Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kanjo defends HCR

"My election is really inconsequential to good practice, good law and good healthcare in this country," Kanjorski said. "If I have to lose an election out of doing the right thing, so be it."

Take a position and defend it. Well done Uncle Paul.

Moon Lake

The Luzerne County Commissioners facing an enormous deficit eliminated funding for Moon Lake Park this year that I thought was a bad move but they had to find every savings possible. On the plus side it got rid of some dead weight on the payroll but many people enjoy the place. The Park has been reopened for limited use such as fishing but not camping and the facilities are still closed.

Another Monkey has fond memories of the park and frets what may become of it.

Our cash strapped county is looking at every possible revenue source and is looking at leasing the land for gas drilling. Sounds like a good idea, what could possibly go wrong?

The Sierra Club doesn't think it is legal for the Commissioners to lease the park for that purpose because there is a law in Pennsylvania that once land is given to a municipality or county or school district, the land is held in trust under the "Donated or Dedicated Property Act" and it becomes public use... County officials would have to go to court and prove that Moon Lake Park's original use is no longer practicable or possible, and no longer serves the public interest.

The Keep Moon Lake Park open! Facebook Page has over 4000 members and I doubt if many of them want to risk polluting the lake or the groundwater for a few bucks in the short term.

My friends Kayak Dude and Frack Mountain have documented many incidents of pollution, carelessness and regulatory failure.

As far as I can tell the PA Dept of Environmental Protection is way behind the curve and the EPA has been handcuffed regulating this activity.

My fear is that people will look at the short term dollars to be had but if our water is poisoned it will cost hundreds of billions to clean it up.

Yuddy on the air

John Yudichak is the first candidate in the State Senate 14th District race to start running a TV ad. Expect his Democratic rival Tom Leighton to follow shortly. Steve Urban is the only Republican on the ballot so I don't expect him to spend any money in this race until the fall unless he somehow gets the nod for Lt. Governor. Libertarian Betsy Summers has a big hill to climb just to get on the ballot.

The spot mixes pictures of his family with headlines that extol his virtues in opposing the pay raise and pension increase and smacks the Juvie Brothers. That's a lot to fit into 30 seconds. His YouTube channel also has another 30 second web ad and his announcement speech. The Yonk has a review.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carney in the crosshairs

Last week Sarah Palin put up this graphic on her Facebook page sayin'

We’re paying particular attention to those House members who voted in favor of Obamacare and represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election... and we’re going to hold them accountable for this disastrous Obamacare vote. They are... Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3), Christopher Carney (PA-10)..
We’ll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington.

Carney responded when he visited the Prompton Fire Department to deliver a piece of pork for new equipment.

WNEP: "If this is what Ms. Palin is about, if she is saying we have to reload and put crosshairs on people that's beyond the pale," said Carney. "I'm happy she's doing that, actually. It helps us. "

Carney believes the health care bill will become more popular once people understand it. He said he isn't worried about Palin's plan. "If she wants to take us on based on a popular bill, please, please let her do it," the congressman said..."You can't vote worried about your career, you have to vote the right way," said Carney. "You have to vote your conscience and for me this was a vote of conscience."

I always like to nickname politicians and since Palin is gunning for him maybe we should start calling him Moose.
Dave Madeira just about fainted over his remarks and wants to "tone down the rhetoric" because it gives "aid and comfort to anti-gunners ."
On the health care vote Madeira pointed to a poll released by The Tarrance Group (Republican outfit) in early March that found 58 percent of likely voters in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District oppose the Obama-Pelosi health care plan that Carney voted for in November. The poll found only 28 percent of likely voters in the district support the current plan. I'd like to see another after people find out what is actually what is in the bill.
Is my friend David really saying that he would conduct a poll before he voted on a controversial issue before casting his vote then be guided by the result if he makes it to Congress? Government by plebliscite sounds good but is unworkable and the Constitution gave us a republic not a democracy.
Since my friends on the right like to quote people that have been long dead I will offer this although he is not a founding father.

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogger meetup post game

All I can say about the turnout is WOW! I was expecting maybe 50 people if we were lucky but the CV put the total at 125-150. Many thanks to the staff at Rooney's Irish Pub for the great service in handling the unexpected surge in business.

Now for some Gonzo Journalism with a link heavy post that I'm sure will omit someone so let me know if I missed you.

We picked up the Blogfather and headed to wilds of the Tomato Capitol arriving a few minutes after 5PM to find the place was mobbed already. I walked in the door to find my friends and regular commenters Pope George Ringo and Forest Gump set up a command post at the bar. Mrs. G sat down next to them and I immediately started working the room.

The first candidate I spotted was State Rep John Yudichak who is running for the Democratic nomination to succeed Ray Musto in the 14th District and wanted to know how I came up with nickname Yuddy for him. Actually that came from lost long blogger Bill Fitz. His Democratic opponent W-B Mayor Tom Leighton told me to expect a big announcement next week that may make some people unhappy. The Republican in the 14th Senate race Luz Co Commish Steve Urban and his wife Linda hung out all night. Urban is also running for Lt. Gov

GOP 11th CD candidate Chris Paige who dropped his bid a few days ago was there but America's Mayor took a pass. I had a nice chat with Kanjo's campaign manager Joe Werner but I didn't run into anybody from the Corey O'Brien camp. Steve said they were all at the cage fight. WTF?

All 3 candidates running in the 120th State Rep race worked the crowd. Incumbent Phyllis Mundy (D) wanted to know if I was "just blowing smoke" when I said she was my favorite house member. I assured her that I appreciate her work on health care including supporting a single payer system for PA and holding the Blue Cross not-for-profit company (?) feet to the fire. The top people of that company can be paid 6 or 7 figure salary's while building up a surplus far in excess what is required by law then hand it out for various projects. Republican West Pittston Mayor Bill Goldsworthy promised a vigorous campaign. The Libertarian candidate Tim Mullen
is very interesting . The Greens and Libertarians always run candidates for office that are long shots like President, Senator or Governor. My advice to them has been to build a bench by geting candidates to run for a local post like council, school board, state rep, etc. He is doing that.

118th State Rep Mike Carroll and Monroe County's Terrance O'Conner made the rounds.

121th Jim O'Meara was available he is taking on Eddie Day who didn't show up.

119th Gary Zingaretti and Bob Morgan booked interviews. I was very disappointed that Mullery didn't make it.
From Lackawanna County we had 114th State House candidate John Moran and State Senate
hopeful Frank Scavo.
Jake Digel brought a posse that is supporting Senator Arlen Specter and Mike Dineen was their plugging Dan Onorato for Governor.
Past candidates Joe Terrana and Dr Joe Leonardi joined into the fun along with Terry Best, Pittston Mayor Jason Klush and Exeter Mayor Casandra Coleman.
A few State Committee candidates made the rounds including Sabrina McLaughlin and Tom Shibulla. I don't pay much attention to those races but anyone who is running for a spot on the GOP or Dem State Committees is welcome to do a guest post.
Who did I miss?

Elizabeth Skrapits has nice write-up in the Citizens Voice. My Cover is blown.

Candidates meet the faces behind the screen names

Bill O'Boyle of the TL was also there gathering info for a future story.

The bloggers report:


Photo's can viewed at this link.
The next Saturday OT Committee and Operatic Society will be at Mark's Pub in May to watch the Kentucky Derby like we have done for the last 13 years.
I think that since this was such a success the next mega-meetup will scheduled for the fall and we will invite not only the locals but statewide candidates.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Hour today

The next blogger meetup will be Friday March 26th at Rooney's Irish Pub 67 S. Main St. Pittston, PA 18704 starting at 5PM. There is big bar area with tables off to the side and plenty of free parking across the street where the Tomato Festival is held.

Our local internet scribes will be out in force along with our friends and many candidates with their supporters have confirmed that they will be attending.

Two questions have come up.

What is the dress code?

Yes, you must wear clothes even if it is warm out. Bloggers used to be known for writing while wearing their pajamas but I think that stereotype can be put to rest.

Sue wants to know if Big Dan is really the illegitimate son of the Mean Old Man?

Show up and find out.

Kanjo doesn't back Carney?

PoliticsPA: Murphy gets appropriations nod from Pa. Democrats

Murphy won the recommendation over U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, himself a two-term congressman who represents northeast Pennsylvania. The two men and U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper were vying for the position.

U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorksi appears to have cast the deciding vote in Murphy’s favor, which might surprise some political observers. Kanjorski and Carney represent adjacent congressional districts, meaning Carney’s newfound clout could have benefited the region Kanjorski represents. The two congressman, in fact, represent two of the same counties: Lackawanna and Luzerne.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Kanjorski tells PoliticsPA that the vote was taken by a secret ballot, meaning the other congressmen and women in the room did not necessarily know who voted for whom. She declined to deny Kanjorski voted for Murphy, saying she did not know who the congressman supported.

The last 2 Republican Congressmen from the 10th District, Don Sherwood and Joe McDade, had a seat on this committee and the late Jack Murtha wanted Carney on the panel. The late, great Dan Flood was the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations sub-committee for many years.

I have asked both press flacks for the Congressmen for comment and will post their responses when/if I get them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

PA Senate 14th District

TL: Pittston Township union representative Michael Saporito on Wednesday filed to withdraw from his candidacy for the 14th Senatorial District seat, according to a primary withdrawal list posted on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Web site.

I spent a few days trying to find out some info about this guy is and came up empty. Saporito's petitions were being challenged by the Yudichak camp according to

So that leaves 2 local Democratic heavyweights looking for the nomination to succeed Ray Musto. I must say that I'm surprised that there are not more people running for this seat on both sides. Of the the 4 people looking to go to Harrisburg I can honestly say I like them all and will be neutral in the race.

When you compare the job that Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton has done with the record of his predecessor you have to be impressed. He restored the bond rating of the city and added to the ranks of the police department. The downtown has seen more businesses open than close and it's not a ghost town after dark anymore. The trash is picked up on time and the streets are plowed when it snows. There have been some sore spots like the Heights fire house closing and staff reductions in that department. Yes, he has raised taxes because it was the responsible thing to do because we don't want to go back to the days of taking 3 tax anticipation notes in one year.

State Rep John Yudichak knocked off Stanley Jarolin in the 1998 Democratic primary and has been reelected easily since. Jarolin was best known for keeping us informed on which streams would be stocked with trout but not much else. He has had some significant achievements in his time in the State House including ending the unemployment penalty for people on Social Security. He refused to take the the 2AM payraise and has proposed legislation to end the per diem abuse.

A comment on a previous post said Word around Wilkes-Barre is that Leighton thinks he has the Senator seat in the bag already. His camp thinks that Kanjo is going to deliver it for him and he is going to deliver the Congressional race for Kanjo. They don't think Yudichak has a chance.

This is silly. Kanjo in another fight for his political life so he doesn't need to get mixed up in other races even if we all know that Kanjo and Yuddy don't exchange Christmas cards anymore. The last politician around here that could deliver a race was Marty Murray and those days are long gone.

Luzerne County Commissioner Steve Urban is the only Republican running for the State Senate seat but he is also running for Lt. Governor. I couldn't find a Urban for Senate website but did come across one for his Lt. Gov bid. Steve is the only one that I have voted for in the last 2 county commissioner general elections. He says he would be able to argue for county governments across the Commonwealth when Harrisburg decides to pass yet another unfunded mandate that passes the cost on to local government.

In the fall we will also be able to vote for a Libertarian candidate provided she gets enough signatures before August 1st. It won't be easy because the Dems and Reps have set an almost impossible number for 3rd party candidates to get on the ballot. Betsy Summers has run for a few offices before and was a member of the last Luzerne County Government Study Commission.

Note: All 4 candidates are threatening to show up at our blogger get together this Friday in Pittston.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's a gas

According to a flack from the American Petroleum Institute the fracking process of getting natural gas out of the ground will not pollute the drinking water in the area. Ask the people of Dimock in Susquehanna County about that. She claims that there is enough regulations in place by the PA Department of Environmental Protection although the DEP has been playing catchup. They don't have enough inspectors to deal with what has been already approved and the latest state budget calls for drilling in state parks in Harrisburg's never ending quest for more revenue. Now they think that table games at the casinos will be the salvation but that is a different subject.

Sara Banaszak argues that a severance tax like just about every other state imposes will drive drillers away. I doubt that because there is to much money to be made. She also said the EPA should not get involved and Congress should keep the exemption to the Clean Water Act that Haliburton's chief lobbyist Dick Cheney got passed.

There is a bill in Congress to give the EPA jurisdiction over this called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act. The last time I talked to Congressman Chris Carney he was noncommittal on this bill. That's a surprise.

He gave us this statement:

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Carney (PA-10) released the following statement today in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it will conduct a comprehensive research study to investigate the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on water quality and public health.

“Ensuring our community has safe drinking water in the midst of our natural gas boom is of significant concern to me and my staff and I welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it will conduct a comprehensive study to review the effects of hydraulic fracturing. I supported legislation last year directing the EPA to conduct this analysis so that we can determine whether the fracking process requires more federal oversight.

The Marcellus Shale has presented our region with a tremendous economic opportunity and we must take every step necessary to ensure that the health of our families is not compromised as a result.”

Sorry Chris but this is mush. The state and federal governments need to get a handle on this before this turns into another environmental disaster on the scale of what happened in the last 2 centuries as a result of coal mining. We can live without a lot of things but clean water is not one of them.

I haven't been paying as close attention to this issue as I should but my blog buddies have and they can explain more about this issue than I can .


Susquehanna River Sentinel

Frack Mountain

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paige out

Chris Paige has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination in the 11th CD. That makes Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta the presumptive nominee to face Paul Kanjorski or Corey O'Brien in the fall.

His statement:

Goodbye & Farewell

Recently, Mayor Lou Barletta decided to transform our primary fight into a legal dispute. Although I am confident that I would prevail, I am equally confident that a protracted legal battle would not advance the causes I believe in, and - ultimately - those issues are more important than my personal political fortunes.

I began this race because I had something important to say about the bailouts and their moral, economic and political costs to our society and because I was alarmed by the dangerous ongoing transformation in our country and its politics, and I sincerely regret that I won't have an opportunity to continue fighting for you and for the ideals we share. Realistically, I knew the forces in favor of plundering our wealth and subverting our democracy were likely to prevail in the end, but I believed that I had been called to try, and I tried with everything I had. Mother Theresa said it best, "God doesn't require that you succeed; He only requires that you try." And, by that standard, we won - we kept the faith, and we fought for what we know is true.

While I was campaigning, I met a great many people in desperate need of help, and I tried my best to represent them and their needs. I am profoundly sorry that I failed them and you, but the fight must go on. The continuing assaults on our liberties and our prosperity has claimed and will claim millions of victims, and those victims and their families deserve our support. Short of illness, nothing inflicts more damage upon a person and his or her family than job loss, so I always remembered that the fight against job-killing big-government policies was a fight to defend people, not economic abstractions. To me, this was not an intellectual debate; it was a fight to save my friends' jobs and my neighbors' homes and our society's freedom, and I only regret that I could not do more.

And to all of my friends and supporters, let me thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I am truly humbled and deeply honored by your friendship, and I profoundly regret that I was unable to justify the faith you placed in me. My wife and I need some time alone to grieve the loss of our child, but when that time has passed, we will organize a small party as a token of our appreciation for your hard work and sacrifice. No man is a failure who has won friends like you!

Again, I thank you all for your support and friendship, and I wish you all the best!

Goodbye and farewell,

Chris Paige

Luzerne County Home Rule

The Luzerne County Government Study Commission has been busy writing a new charter for county government since being elected last fall. They have adhered to a tight schedule with the goal of putting a plan on the ballot this November even working through a major snowstorm when some members couldn't make it to the meeting.

I was a big proponent of the last plan that called for an elected county executive and a 9 member council with 6 positions elected by district and 3 at-large. It met the goal of separating the legislative and executive functions of the present 3 Commissioner system plus it got rid of electing row officers.

I have some reservations about what they are cooking up this time. My biggest objection is not having an elected but appointed county manager. I don't like having a "Mayor of the County"that is not accountable to the voters. If they think that politics won't be a factor in hiring a county manager I have a bridge in Alaska that I would like to sell you.

An 11 member council elected at-large I can live with but I would prefer to see less members. And they won't have offices or clerks is a worry. Eleven part time people with outside interests will need a staff to keep tabs on things.

The part I like is that the coroner, register of wills, recorder of deeds, treasurer and sheriff would all be hired based on qualifications not elected. These are management/clerk positions with no policy responsibility. After all there is no Republican or Democratic way to perform an autopsy or register a will. Right now the row officers are not accountable to anyone so when nonsense like what has been going on in the sheriff's office or a row officer is spotted selling used cars on company time they can't be disciplined or fired if the infraction is serious enough.

Study commission members Rick Heffron said everything the commission has done so far can be changed.

I will await the final product before deciding whether or not I will support it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blogger meetup

The next blogger meetup will be Friday March 26th at Rooney's Irish Pub 67 S. Main St. Pittston, PA 18704 starting at 5PM. There is big bar area with tables off to the side and plenty of free parking across the street where the Tomato Festival is held. It's easy to find just drive north on River Street from W-B and it's on the left.

It looks like we will have a good turnout. So far I have received confirmation from about 15 campaigns for Congress, State Senate and State House that the candidate and/or supporters will be attending. That includes Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Pastafarians.

Our political bloggers from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties will be there along with our readers, commenters and people who are just interested in local politics.

This is an informal mixer with no speeches scheduled. There is no charge for admission.

Thanks to my colleagues for promoting the event.

Coal Region Voice


Another Monkey

NEPA Blogs

Not Cease From Exploration

Circumlocution for Dummies


A Big Fat Slob

The Lu Lac Political Letter

Scranton Public Policy Examiner

Thanks to the local papers for publishing the announcement.

Political Scene

Bloggers to host area candidates at Rooney’s

This event is sanctioned by the Northeast Blogging Council and the Saturday OT Committee and Operatic Society.

Kanjorski is a yes

WASHINGTON - Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) provided the following statement explaining how he will vote for the health care reform bill. The bill will be voted on later this evening.

"Today I will vote for legislation designed to improve the affordability and accessibility of health care. Americans already spend more on health care than the people of any other nation. If we take no action, health care costs are expected to double over the next ten years, just as they have over the last ten years. It is not the bill I would have written if it were up to me alone, but it is the best we can do at this time.

"This was one of the most difficult votes I have ever cast, primarily because there is a great deal of confusion about what this bill will do. Senior citizens do not have to worry about losing any benefits because of this bill. In fact, their coverage for prescription drug costs and preventative care will improve. No federal funding will be used to fund abortion. The bill does not empower the federal government to take over health care. If people are happy with the insurance they have, nothing needs to change.

"However, this bill allows the American people to choose the health insurance plan that best fits individual and family needs by creating a marketplace of insurance plans. For too long, private insurance companies have monopolized how health insurance operates. This bill attempts to rein in those private insurers by prohibiting their most egregious abuses: denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, imposing a lifetime cap on medical care, and limiting the ability of individuals to change jobs without the fear of losing insurance coverage. It will also enable young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.

"I thank the many Northeastern Pennsylvanians who have shared their thoughts with me on this important legislation over the past few months. When you are sick, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to pay the bills. Insurance is supposed to relieve this worry, but instead the current system has made that worry worse. Today, we are working to reverse this course."

The Democratic leadership ditched the Demon Pass approach that had so many of my Republican friends knickers in a twist. So the House will pass the Senate bill and after the President signs it that will be the law of the land. A separate bill to be sent to the Senate to fix the differences but even if they screw it up health care reform has passed.

This is a big win for President Obama, the Democratic Party and most importantly the American people. I hope that the news coverage will switch from process stories to explaining the benefits but I won't hold my breath. Right now Fox News is is off the air on my cable system which is probably a local problem but it could be that all their heads have exploded and took out the electronics.

ABFS, LuLac and LVR have been doing the play by play all day.

From one of my favs in Congress Allyson Schwartz:

Families across our nation understand that the status quo in health care is unacceptable and unsustainable.
And, they have called upon us - through millions of supportive calls, emails, and messages to Congress - to pass a uniquely American solution to ensure that all Americans have access to meaningful, affordable health coverage.
That moment is now.
It is time to put American families – not insurance companies - in control of their own health care.

It is time to hold insurance companies accountable to keep premiums down and prohibit the denial of care and coverage.

It is time to ensure that Americans have access to affordable health insurance choices.

It is time to finally fix the Medicare prescription drug gap, known as the donut hole, and provide seniors with greater access to preventive and primary care.

It is time to contain the rising cost of health care for Americans, and reduce the deficit for our nation by $1.2 trillion.

Later today, Congress will take action to bring down health care costs for middle income families, help small businesses afford coverage for their employees, improve coverage for seniors, reign in wasteful spending, and provide access to coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.
This vote comes after hundreds of hours of debate, meetings, and bipartisan dialogue.
In the 13th Congressional District, health care reform will improve coverage for 443,000 residents, provide tax credits and other assistance to 135,000 families and 15,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage, and improve Medicare for 115,000 beneficiaries.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carney is a yes

I just got this statement. That's a relief because if he voted No I was prepared to endorse Dave Madeira.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Carney (PA-10) today made the following statement with regard to the health insurance reform bill Congress will take up on Sunday:

“We’ve been through a long, difficult debate over health care. I’ve listened to my constituents through 14 town halls and thousands of phone calls, personal visits and letters. I’ve talked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I’ve heard from health care experts, economists, and the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates the cost of the program.

Throughout this debate I have focused on several overarching priorities and I believe, after careful review, that this bill addresses them. This measure denies insurers the ability to reject coverage to people with so-called ‘pre-existing conditions,’ a common sense provision that, as a cancer survivor, I feel particularly strongly about. Covering maternity care will no longer be optional for insurers; pregnant women and their unborn children will be guaranteed coverage when they need it most. And the arbitrary and exorbitant insurance premium increases that have hamstrung small businesses and working families will no longer be possible.

This bill takes critical steps toward providing quality, affordable health care while reducing the cost burden on our hardworking families and small businesses. It does so in a fiscally responsible manner, reducing the deficit by an estimated $138 billion over the first 10 years and an additional $1.2 trillion in the following decade.
This bill also continues the longstanding ban on public funding for abortion, a factor that weighed heavily on my mind in recent days.

I am voting for this legislation because all Americans should have the same insurance choices enjoyed by members of Congress and their families. If it’s good enough for members of Congress, it is good enough for the people they represent.”

Slobby is predicting that Paul Kanjoski will vote no to protect Sallie Mae

HCR down to the wire

The House vote is scheduled for Sunday right now but that may change and our 2 local Congresscritter's voted for the bill the first time. They have been listed as undecided in all the whip count stories that I have read over the last few days but I would be surprised and very disappointed if they vote against it.

Tonight the Wapo is reporting that Paul Kanjoski will vote for the bill.

Eight others who had said they were undecided -- Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Bob Etheridge (N.C.) Paul Kanjorski (Pa.) Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio), David Obey (Wis.), John Spratt (S.C.), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Charlie Wilson (Ohio) -- said they would vote yes as well.

I will try to confirm this later today.

Chris Carney remains "undecided" about the latest national health insurance bill. As of Friday afternoon, he said he still was listening to what "both sides of the issue" were saying and was studying the legislation.

Carney sent out another press release yesterday slamming the big business special interest groups that are running ads in the district.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Carney today called out the hypocrisy of an ad campaign running in the 10th district funded by a group that has repeatedly fought on behalf of big tobacco interests. This is the very same industry that profits from giving people cancer, yet the group Americans for Prosperity has bought huge amounts of additional ad time to try to scare the public about health insurance reform.

Congressman Carney today made the following statement:

“I find it unconscionable that this group is putting huge sums of money behind a TV ad with the sole intent of trying to scare the people of the 10th Congressional District by falsely implying that mammograms were going to be denied to women under 50 years of age.

Their claims are entirely misleading, and are nothing but a callous attempt to scare women, cancer survivors and their families. The Web site rated the ad a “Pants on Fire” lie.

As a cancer survivor, I find it outrageous that this group would try to scare people in such a manipulative way. But even more appalling is that tobacco companies spent decades lying to the American people about the cancer causing effects of smoking.

The fact that this group has repeatedly fought for big tobacco and now wants to kill health insurance reform tells me that they have no interest in fighting cancer but rather solely in protecting profits.

Big health insurers are also spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in our region to pressure my vote. I can’t understand how big health insurers can raise rates in some cases by 39 percent and then rationalize spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns to mislead the public. These big health insurers should be spending their money to give families and small businesses lower rates.
Here’s my challenge: If these companies are serious about helping people who have cancer, take these ads down and spend the money covering people, not covering up the truth.

I won't be bullied by special interests and I certainly won't be bullied by insurance companies and tobacco companies. I am going to do what I believe is the right thing to do for the central and northeastern Pennsylvanians and I am going to listen to the people of Pennsylvania who don't have the money for lobbyists or television ads."

Passing this bill is both good policy and good politics. It's good politics because you can't spend a year on one of the Democratic Party's top policy goals for decades and come up empty. It will make the Democratic Congress look stupid and ineffective dealing a body blow to the President.

It's good policy because it opens the door to further reforms to the health care system.

Ezra Klein lists the immediate benefits:

Legislation that covers 32 million people. A world in which 95 percent of all non-elderly, legal residents have health-care coverage. An end to insurers rescinding coverage for the sick, or discriminating based on preexisting conditions, or spending 30 cents of each premium dollar on things that aren't medical care. Exchanges where insurers who want to jack up premiums will have to publicly explain their reason, where regulators will be able to toss them out based on bad behavior, and where consumers will be able to publicly rate them. ... The final closure of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit's "doughnut hole."

.. you also get the single most ambitious effort the government has ever made to control costs in the health-care sector. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill cuts deficits by $130 billion in the first 10 years, and up to $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years. The excise tax is now indexed to inflation, rather than inflation plus one percentage point, and the subsidies grow more slowly over time. So one of the strongest cost controls just got stronger, and the automatic spending growth slowed. And then there are all the other cost controls in the bill: The Medicare Commission, which makes entitlement reform much more possible. The programs to begin paying doctors and hospitals for care rather than volume. The competitive insurance market.

This bill is not perfect but it will do a lot of good. My advice to Kanjo and Carney is vote for reform and defend your position.

Kanjorski's office tells me that the Wapo story is incorrect. He is still undecided.

Friday, March 19, 2010

St Patrick's Day past

Poetry from the inbox


I recall so clearly on that cold green night

The echo of frightened squalors

Looking for some light of hope.

The circled dance of the damned raged at the other Pub

Where safety reigned and water was rampant

For those who were the sires failed to appear elsewhere

And the fires that waited in the darkness knew.

Tonight, Jerry doth not sleep!

“Dance!, Dance!, Dance!!” cried the stately prince.

Whilst embracing the swine beneath his floor.

Let Jim be the diplomat as we bargain our fate.

Upon the hill the Pub of giants was sulking in its memories;

For its brethren had chosen abandonment over loyalty.

Memories of Duffy’s cries of knowledge and Richard’s moans of pain;

Surely, are we not all profiled in the eyes of the evil Prince????

The morose silence broken with a ray of light from Dante’s boardroom.

THE dark sky broken up with sights of past and present agonies burning.

Like marshmallows and Styrofoam on a summer grill.

Tonight Jerry rises from his ashes and adorns his jogging suit. Jerry doth not sleep tonight!!!

As the other Pub turned out its lights and the prince embarked to subterranean perversion the Pub on the hill was now a living value of soot and broken granite.

The roast beef Sodom and Gomorrah that followed was soon crushed by the aching memories of lost souls yearning for consumption of forbidden beverages and not the conversation of fair-weather drinkers. Joe’s toupee could not hold the ravaged spirit back. No roast beef today or ever!

As nearly 15 years has now gone the past is surely the present today. St. Patrick had his snakes and Jerry has his demons. Indictments flow from the land of milk and honey. Indictments are ripples of revenge for the dark light of a night not soon forgotten.

The prince flies low today; but he still flies and you best understand the fact. A badge does not erase the miseries caused; of words of comparison to Sigourney Weaver and the fair maiden Colleen; but there is no screening of Alien tonight. Only death.

Tonight, Jerry doth not sleep.

Nor do we!!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ballot Challenges

According to the PA Department of State website 11th CD Republican candidate Chris Paige's nominating petitions are being challenged by Wm Maughan, Maureen Ace and Robert Ace. According to One of them is being represented by Lawrence Tabas, a Philadelphia lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the state GOP, which is firmly behind Barletta.

No surprise really because trying to knock your primary opponents is part of the game. I expected the Corey O'Brien camp to challenge Brian Kelly's signatures.

Paige responded to the challenge in the pa2010 comments:

Since I haven’t been served with either complaint, I can’t comment beyond the obvious: this is a deplorable cowardly move that flatly contradicts Mr. Barletta’s frequent comments to the media that he welcomed additional challengers into the race. Assuming this report is correct, we are pleased that discovery will allow us to investigate Mr. Barletta’s own activities.

McGruff admits that the Barletta campaign has information that provide the basis for the challenge.

In the Senate race Joe Sestak wants Joe Vodvarka off the ballot so people don't have 2 choices in voting against Arlen Specter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


In 2008 not one of our Democratic members of the PA State House from Luzerne County had a Republican opponent. This year all 6 seats that that I keep track of will be contested in the fall.

The only open seat is the 119th District were we have Republican candidate Rick Arnold and 3 Dems in what promises to be a spirited primary to succeed John Yudichak who is running for the State Senate. The Democratic contenders are recent Controller candidate Bob Morgan, Bear Creek Surpervisor Gary Zingaretti and Attorney Gerald Mullery.

In the 12oth Phyllis Mundy will be facing Republican West Pittston Mayor Bill Goldsworthy and Libertarian Tim Mullen.

Majority Leader Todd Eachus has represented the 116th since 1997 and now finds himself up to his ass in alligators over the Bonusgate scandal. He will have to get past Republican attorney Tarah Toohill in the fall.

Pittston Rep Mike Carroll had a primary challenge from young PJ Best 2 years ago in the 118th but no opposition in the fall. Republican Terrance O'Conner will not get him a free pass this time.

Eddie Day Pashinski defeated former reformer Christine Katsock (we dodged a bullet there) in the 2006 election to succeed Kevin Blaum who was one of the best people we ever sent to Harrisburg. Fellow Plains Twp resident Jim O'Meara will snag the Republican nomination in the 121st.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lackawanna corruption

The US Attorney's office is promising some some big news later today in Lackawanna County. Whatever else he did I think that former Commissioner Bob Cordaro should be dragged through the streets for chasing the Red Barons out of town.

TT: A federal grand jury in Scranton indicted Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak and former Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro this morning on public corruption charges.

Both are indicted on charges of racketeering and tax evasion. Mr. Cordaro faces a maximum of 364 years and a $7.7 million fine if convicted. Mr. Munchak faces 193 years and a $3.25 million fine.

Click here to read the indictment

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homeless Vets

This is a guest post.

We Must Do More for Homeless Veterans

Last summer I volunteered for the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance and the LC Veteran Affairs office. I was surprised to learn that over 100k veterans are without permanent housing. That over one in three homeless men are vets. I feel this is immoral. If we asked someone to risk their life for our country, then are we not obligated to ensure they at least have a home? This is another reason I am voting for Joe Sestak for Senate.

The retired 3-star Navy admiral traveled five cities across Pennsylvania last week to bring the homeless veterans issues to the public. Traveling with members of Vet Vision, a national veterans advocacy group and publication that endorsed his Senate bid, Sestak warned that with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans more likely than veterans of any other conflict to end up on the streets, we must do all we can to prevent that from happening.

The leading voice on this issue in Congress, Sestak has already taken steps to help the Obama Administration’s goal of eliminating veteran homelessness within five years, including supporting the Veterans Bill of Rights, introducing legislation to increase housing assistance and getting additional funding to treat combat-related mental illnesses.

I don't need to point out to your readers what these people have done. We should be treating them as heroes. Why do our governments act as though we don't even owe them a decent home?


Austin Smith Ford
Mountain Top

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Carney to Health Insurance Companies-Buzz off

A TV ad sponsored by an outfit calling itself The League of American voters has been airing on local cable and broadcast stations this last week asking people to call Congressman Chris Carney to tell him to vote no on the on "the Obama-Pelosi Plan" for healthcare reform. It is full of the usual lies and distortions (transcript here) and the LAV is headed up by that man of integrety Dick Morris. It is a 501(c)4 organization that is not required to disclose donors but you can guess where the money is coming from. Wherever you are on political spectrum I think we can all agree that if an organization runs a political spot we should be told who is paying for it. Congress really needs to amend the law especially after the Citizens United decision by the activist Supreme Court that overturned the will of the legislature and it's own precedents.

Instead of convincing Carney to vote against the bill it sounds like the ad pissed him off. I got this press release on Friday.


Carney calls out insurance executives for running national ads in the 10th District

CLARKS SUMMIT – Congressman Carney (PA-10) released the following statement in response to the four ad campaigns funded by big health insurance companies that are running in the 10th District:

"I appreciate the input I have been getting on both sides of the health care debate. But I find it appalling that the hardworking families of the 10th district have to compete with big health insurance companies to get their voices heard. Big health insurance companies are seeking to use scare tactics to influence my vote. There are at least four national groups funded by big insurers that have poured more than $267,000 into our district. I represent the people of central and northeastern Pennsylvania, not insurance executives.

These big insurers should be ashamed. People getting dropped from their coverage because of preexisting conditions don't have millions of dollars to spend on TV ads. How many of those people could have been covered by the millions of dollars insurance companies are spending to organize and advertise against health care reform?

As I've said throughout this debate, I will judge every plan based on whether it increases affordability, denies insurers the option of rejecting people with preexisting conditions and enables people to take their insurance with them when they change jobs. We must also protect coverage for our seniors and ensure that federal funds can’t go to pay for abortions.

It is time to give families the choices that they have been badly lacking and bring affordability into a system that has run out of control.”

Carney voted for the bill the first time around and it sounds like he will vote for it again despite all the national publications that list him as undecided. I made my view clear to the Congressman last week and have told Paul Kanjorski's office the same thing. Pass the damn bill. It's not perfect but can be improved on just like Social Security and Medicare have been over the years. Their Republican opponents are going to slam them for voting for it the first time and if they vote no this time they will look weak ala John Kerry. I voted for it before I voted against it.

I usually look at the overall voting record knowing that our reps will sometimes vote for or against things that I disagree with but this is a litmus test with me. If a Democratic Congress can't get this done it shows that they are not fit to govern.

Friday, March 12, 2010

You Tube weekend

We are inspired by each other. Blog buddy Steve of Not Cease From Exploration today wrote a about dispute between the record company EMI and the band Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd won the argument.

A long time ago I travelled from Omaha to Los Angeles to see the Pink Floyd Wall show and then got to see it in London a few months later. It was the best rock concert I have ever seen.

EMI has had disputes with other artists such as the Sex Pistols who wrote a song about it.

Blogger meetup

The next blogger meetup will be Friday March 26th at Rooney's Irish Pub 67 S. Main St. Pittston, PA 18704 starting at 5PM.

I scouted out the place today and it's perfect for us. There is big bar area with tables off to the side and plenty of free parking across the street where the Tomato Festival is held. It's easy to find just drive north on River Street from W-B and it's on the left. Mapquest it. The DJ doesn't start until 8:30PM so we won't be blasted out. The menu looks good with everything from sit down dinners to bar food and munchies. For those who want to light up a smoking station is right outside the front door.

Phoning it in

Congressman Paul Kanjorski likes to do business by telephone. In the last year I have been invited to participate in numerous telephone town meetings but was unable to dial in because I was at work at the time.

A few weeks ago his primary opponent Lackawanna Commissioner Corey O'Brien attacked Kanjo for missing Stimulus Oversight meetings:

As the Democratic representative on the Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Commission -- the organization that oversees and directs federal stimulus spending in the Commonwealth -- Paul Kanjorski only attended ONE of the TEN meetings. According to meeting minutes available online, neither Kanjorski nor a member of his staff attended SIX of the TEN meetings. That’s an attendance rate of 40%.

He is also hitting Kanjo for claiming that he is "too busy" to debate him 10 times before the primary election. The person in charge of the commission told the TL that said a member of his staff has participated in every meeting via telephone but she omitted that from the minutes that are published online. “One of Congressman Kanjorski’s staffers has participated in every meeting of the Stimulus Commission via telephone,” Kanjo spokesperson Abbie McDonough said. “Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get their facts straight.”

Maybe the staffer or the Congressman should show up in person for these meetings. Kanjo has held live town halls in the past in which he has said some controversial things and seems to be playing it safe this time around. With the Teabagers showing up and disrupting these meetings across the country I can understand his reluctance but my I advice to Democrats is simple. Take a position and defend it. From what I have seen of these Tea Party people and have read in the press they are the same names and faces that I have been seeing at GOP events for years. Despite what FOX News tells us there is nothing new about this group, it just has another name .

The Tea Party activist pictured below protesting outside Congressman Carney's office looks a bit familiar.

Flying under the radar Kanjo is looking to limit the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Would you loan this guy money?

This one has me shaking my head. Former Judge Mark Ciavarella defaulted on a loan from a bank in Minersville. You have to wonder why a bank would approve a loan to an unemployed person under federal indictment who is a defendant in multi-million dollar civil lawsuits that had previously defaulted on a business loan from Louis DeNaples bank. Miners Bank had previously been used to pay the bribes from Robert Powell and Bob Mericle to the Juvie Brothers.
Scooch and his fellow defendant Michael Conahan filed a bunch of motions last week to delay their eventual trial alleging a violation of attorney client privilege, asking for new Judge and a change of venue.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Petition Day

Today was the last day to file nominating petitions and we got a few surprises. It's almost like the trade deadline in MLB but not as important.

Some surprises.

In the US Senate race Joseph Vodvarka of Allegheny county filed as a Dem making Arlen Specter's and Joe Sestack's life more complicated.

Republican Terrance O’Connor, of Monroe County will be running against against Mike Carrol in the 119th.

In the State Senate 14th Distcrict Michael Saporito of Pittston Twp. will take on W-B Mayor Tom Leighton and State Rep John Yudichak in the Democratic primary.

I'm not dead yet

On Friday Another Monkey revisited his idea of a blogger buddy system to alert the world if one of our electronic scribes bites the dust. He was inspired to write about this subject after learning of the death of Jon Swift who was a brilliant writer. He was like the Stephen Colbert of the blogosphere. I read him all the time.
Mark liked the idea and suggested that we should all have a pre-written post ready in case we meet an untimely demise and even wrote his own obit. Then on Saturday a death notice for Joseph Sam Valenti, formerly of Pittston, appeared in the TL. My inbox lit up asking if this was the same Joe Valenti who writes I'm happy to report that Joe is alive and well. He told me that the Joe Valenti in question is a distant relative of his and we send our condolences to his family.
I'm not sure how much longer I have on this earth and right now I feel awful. My back still hurts after digging out of the last snow storm, my head hurts because I tripped over my own feet and smacked my head on the water heater. To top it off I just got back from the dentist after getting drilled for a crown. None of this is life threatening but my genetics are a worry. Few male members of my father's family have made it past 60. Factor in my lifestyle, subtract 10 and I think my days are numbered. This post is starting to sound like a Woody Allen movie. Love, death and taxes.
Before we all croak I have proposed to a few of my brethren in local blogosphere that we get together soon and invite some candidates or their representatives for local office along with commenter's and lurkers. Friday March 26th works for me and we just to need to agree on a venue. The last one we had was at Dan's Keystone Grill that was well attended with candidates for Luzerne County Controller and W-B Area School Board showing up. Even 10th CD candidate Corey O'Brien made an appearance.
Dan's is to small and Mark's Pub is to loud so we need a new venue for the next meetup. One wag suggested that we meet at Patte's Sports Bar which I think would be fun but some people would like to avoid the place.
The not dead yet Joe Valenti suggested that we get together at Rooney's Irish Pub in Pittston. That sounds good but I'm open to suggestions.
Update: The Willow Tree in Hilldale section of Plains Twp has a back room and Old Tyme Charlie's has also been suggested .

10th CD happenings

I attended the annual Kiss the Blarney for Carney event on Sunday along with a couple of hundred other people. Despite being to subjected to bagpipe music it was a good time. Many local Lackawanna County elected officials and candidates were in attendance along with reps from Senator Specter's office. I chatted with a few including State Rep Jim Wansascz who is running for State Senate to succeed Bob Mellow.

Carney asked me for my assessment of the race and I told him that I think he is in good shape. I'll repeat it again; Challengers don't win elections, Incumbents lose them. He hasn't done anything to lose this thing. Addressing the Health Care Reform bill in his remarks to the crowd he pointed out that we can't continue with the status quo. Something has to be done to get costs under control and insurance companies can't be in charge of who gets health care in this country. I offered my observation that he voted for it once because it was the right thing to do and his Republican opponents will howl about it but if he now voted no on the bill he becomes John Kerry, I voted for it before I voted against it.

He was little iffy on the FRAC ACT but assured the crowd that he was in favor of clean drinking water. He made the national security argument that the US has to off foreign oil. I'll keep bending his ear on this one. There is no reason this should be excluded from the the Clean Water Act and I'm sure that Kayak Dude can make that case.

I asked him about some of the other races this year. I was surprised that he endorsed Manan Trividi in the 6th CD primary against Doug Pike. His 2006 campaign manager is running Pike's campaign but Chris was adamant in his support for fellow military officer Trividi. As far as the Paul Kanjorski-Corey O'Brien race he said "I serve with Congressman Kanjorski" and supports him. 2 years ago O'Brien and fellow Lackawanna Commissioner Mike Washo showed up for the event but were not to be seen this time nor were any of Kanjo's people.

A real treat was meeting the author of NEPArtisan and we plotted another blogger meetup. For some strange reason he really wants to meet the Blogfather. I'll call Mark tomorrow and try to set up a meeting of his fan club and coordinate with the Northeast Blogging Council and the Saturday OT Committee to find an agreeable date.

The Republican candidates had an event in Lewisburg yesterday before 50 people. The tax cut triplets of Tom Marino, Malcolm Derk and Dave Madeira made it but Steven Solieri and young Ted Yale were no shows. Just a guess but I don't think that Yale or Solieri will make the ballot.

The Republican candidates all decry deficit spending but offer no realistic solutions to cutting the federal budget putting large portions of the budget off limits. At the same time they all advocated cutting taxes. Maybe they all need course in remedial mathematics.

I'm not going to pick it all apart so read these press write-ups.

Carney out of touch, Republicans say

Candidates lay out issues at forum

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Justin Behrens takes a pass

In the race to succeed John Yudichak in the 119th State House seat we are down to 3 Democrats and 1 Republican. The GOP hopeful is Rick Arnold and the Dems are Bob Morgan, Gary Zingaretti and Jerry Mullery.

Justin Behrens decided to end his bid and sent along this well thought out explaination.

Over the past couple weeks, while working diligently working to obtain signatures in order to placed on the ballot for State Representative of the 119th District, I have come to realize the severity of a much bigger issue, political mistrust. This was evident by acts of angry door slamming, hostile conversations, and lack of interest in becoming registered voters. The voice of the 119th District is clear, whomever is elected into this office will need to carefully listen to the people they serve in order to gain back public trust.
This is why I have decided to pull my name from ballot and dedicate my next couple years understanding the issues of the people and getting to know them. Serving in the United States Army to defend this constitution and this country with honor, pride and integrity was something that I took seriously. Now, I am going to serve the people of this community with the same values. I want to get a better feel for the people of this district and work on building my grass roots campaign.

I thank all those that supported me and assisted in obtaining signatures, we will be doing this again in the future. I will consider running for public office again keeping to my promise of running without any money from political action committees. Instead, my campaign will run from the bottom up by volunteer supporters with the focus on grass roots interactions. Inspired by Rep Yudichak who was able to knock on the door of each voter twice during his first campaign for the district, I hope to be visiting each doorstep multiple times in the upcoming years.

I will continue to address ending regressive taxation, such as property tax, so that we can ease the undue burden that has been placed on working families. With progressive taxation we can fund our public schools properly, empowering the next generation of leaders.
I will support for legislation that will empower communities to choose a system of governance that would include checks and balances. I believe public money should not be given to private schools. Our public school teachers are heroes and there is not a better investment a society can make than to support their efforts.

Together, with supporters, I will also endeavor to bring about quick meaningful healthcare reform at the state level. I am open to working with any solution that will increase access and quality for everyone.

Finally, I do not consider m
yself a politician, but rather a statesman. I will continue to build the voice of the people and encourage candidates that are running to speak that voice, which I so passionately helped defend while serving in the United States Army. I will continue to have my website up running at where I will dialogue and work with the people addressing their needs and concerns. Honor, Pride, and Integrity back in Harrisburg and this great Nation.

Jim Wansacz

The PA 22nd Senate district is mostly in Lackawanna County with a slice of Monroe and just 3 Luzerne County towns-Avoca, Dupont and Duryea. With so many state legislature races in Luzerne County I have to draw the line somewhere so I won't be putting in a lot of time covering this one. Fellow blogger NEPArtisan has been following the twist and turns since Bob Mellow announced his retirement who will have to scrape by on a $300K a year pension. It must be nice to write the laws governing your own retirement.
Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty dropped his bid to be Governor
and now wants to be the State Senator from this district seems to be the frontrunner. Former Lackawanna Commissioner Joe Corcoran got the Democratic Party endorsement for whatever that is worth and 2 others are in the race.
Which brings me to 114th District State Rep Jim Wansascz who wants to be a State Senator. He is getting beat up over the per diem thing but is open to changing rules about them as he explained to the Scranton Public Policy Examiner. I met Jim today and thanked him for including me on his press list. He requested that I publish his press releases and I'm happy to oblige. The one question I forgot to ask was "Do you think you can beat Frank Scavo in the fall"?
Jim doesn't have a campaign website up yet but he is on Facebook. His state rep site is


On Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010, Representative Jim Wansacz filed in excess of 2,000 signatures for the 22nd Senatorial District. Wansacz was the first candidate to file and plans on submitting supplementary signatures before the March 9th deadline.

“I am encouraged by the outpouring of support I have had since announcing my intention to run for the Pennsylvania State Senate,” Wansacz said. “This is a testament to the dedication of my volunteers who have made a tremendous effort to obtain these signatures in the face of the weather we’ve recently experienced.”

While several candidates having announced their intentions of running for the seat, only Wansacz has submitted the requisite signatures for inclusion on the Democratic ballot this May 19th. State law requires the filing of 500 signatures of qualified electors within the party and District of the seat.

“This is the beginning of a long campaign, one we intend on focusing on what matters most to the people of the 22nd District,” said Wansacz. “I look forward to discussing the issues that affect our every day lives; job creation, property taxes, education and preserving our environment.”

Saturday, March 06, 2010


One of my goals in life was to get to a level of prosperity that I needed a professional to do my tax return. I'm happy to report that I reached that goal in 2003. I'm certainly not rich but the rules about depreciation of rental property and the different treatment of stock dividends, etc. have got to be so complex that I want a Tax Pro to do my return. I won't to go a seasonal place like the one that hires people to stand out front of the place in a ridiculous costume.

I was dealing with a firm in my little burgh of Plains Township for the last few years but it changed ownership and the person I dealt with moved on. Last year I never talked with the person who did my return despite requesting an audience. Pretty poor customer service.

So I'm trying out a new number cruncher and will report back to you.

Walter on the job

I've been busy with the horse race aspects of the upcoming elections for state and federal offices and have neglected the happenings of Luzerne County government so it's time to catch up.
Republican Walter Griffith was elected as Luzerne County Controller by a wide margin on a promise of being a "pain in the ass" and so far he is living up to that. The way to be a pain is to simply ask that county government follow the law. I know that that is a novel idea around here. He has exposed various expenditures that were were not authorized by the Commissioners, Salary Board or Union contracts such as the Chief Public Defender collecting on-call pay or employees trying to cash in unused sick days far in excess of what the union contract allows. He has refused to pay invoices from companies that may not have valid contracts with the county because the Commissioners never approved them.
Then there is the out of control Sheriff's department. They have been selling guns to a select few and Griffith wanted an accounting of all firearms in the office and was forced to subpoena acting Sheriff Charlie Guanieri who refused to cooperate. Some select deputies were getting bonus payments that exceeded their annual salaries for driving their own cars on county business that even the the union objected because it wasn't offered to all employees. When county employees use their own cars they should get 50 cents a mile not some sort of vehicle lease. The PA Attorney General is supposedly investigating this arrangement but he he is busy running for Governor so I don't expect much.
The Luzerne County theme song.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Charlie's money

Just about every campaign has a few of these give the money back squabbles.

In 2008 Paul Kanjorski's camp demanded that Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta return a contribution from crooked Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens. I don't think that he did. Kanjo got some cash from NY Congressman and Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel who is under fire for ethical violations and the Republicans are apopolectic “It comes as no surprise to the residents of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District that Paul Kanjorski has once again chosen personal greed over ethical and decent behavior,” GOP Executive Director Renita Fennick said in a PR. Ed Mitchell says the Kanjorski campaign hasn't decided to give back the money or donate it to charity or just keep it. Democratic primary opponent Corey O'Brien piled on “Decisions like these, to not return or donate the money, are why we’ve lost confidence in our leaders.”

A few days ago Malcolm Derk sent out a release demanding that Congressman Chris Carney "should immediately return this tainted money” from Rangel.

TL: U.S. Rep. Chris Carney will send $21,000 from his campaign war chest to a local charity, keeping a promise that if embattled U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel were ever found to have violated House ethics rules, he would return the money.

“I have long said that I would give to charity any contributions from Mr. Rangel if the ethics committee found wrongdoing. I will be donating the contributions my campaign has received from Mr. Rangel to the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute,” Carney said

I've received emails from the Derk camp and others taking credit for Carney's decision to dump Rangel's money like so many others across the country.

Another 10th CD Republican candidate Dave Madeira says:“Chris Carney may parade himself as a bipartisan fiscal-conservative, but the truth is revealed in his sources of income. Even without the scandal, what is Carney doing taking money from Rangel,” Madeira
asked “Better yet, what does Carney owe Rangel for that $21,000?”

Most of the time these inside baseball arguments are don't register with voters. Maybe a public financing scheme for Congressional campaigns is the best way to get past it. An added benefit would be that the "special interests" won't be able to buy legislation.