Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with old, in with the new

I'm not going to do a top 10 list of 2011 stories but highlight some of the things that happened this past year that will carry over into 2012 that interest me. LuLac and Capitol Ideas have great recaps of the year's top stories in numerical order.

In no particular order with omissions that I'm sure you correct me on dear readers they are Luzerne County Government, Redistricting, the latest flood and the local blogosphere.

I usually don't do multi-subject posts but may start doing it the future like the quick hits of Pennsylvania Progressive and NEPartisan.

Luzerne County Government

The 3 Commissioner 3rd class county code form of government with 127 row officers has come to an end. It is being replaced by a system that is used by many county governments across the country. There will be growing pains and squabbles but I hope the news system works better than the old one.


Wilkes-Barre has been the anchor of the 11th Congressional District since Pennsylvania became a state but will now be part of the 17th CD. It looks like incumbent Democrat Tim Holden will face a primary challenge from Matt Cartwight. No Republican has announced a run yet. In the 11th CD the salons in Harrisburg have taken care of Lou Barletta but Bill Vinsko vows to take him on even though they drew the lines right around his house to keep him out of the district. Tom Marino looks safe in the 10th CD. Former Congressman Chris Carney teased that he would run again but that has fizzled out.


Expect more as the polar ice caps continue to melt putting more moisture in the atmosphere. I roll my eyes at the people who say climate change can't be real because it still snows.

Local Blogosphere

DB Echo has a nice summary of the resurgence of NEPA Blogs. He and Michelle have done a great job of identifying local bloggers and most of them don't have anything to do with politics. Even when I come across a new political blog one of them has it listed before I get the chance. NEPA Blogs has turned into a multimedia operation with a Facebook page, Twitter account and radio and TV appearances. A few local political blogs popped up and withered shortly thereafter although 2 sites devoted to Wilkes-Barre politics have been updated regularly with claims of corruption by city officials.

The local media is starting to notice that political bloggers are not some kids banging away in their mother's basement wearing pajama's eating Cheetos as the early stereotype depicted but are people who have experience in campaigns, government and media. Certainly as well (many times better) informed as the Captains Obvious college professors they so often run to analysis.

Joe Valenti of Pittston Politics punishes himself by going to school board meetings and constantly breaks news in the Wyoming Area and Pittston Area school districts. The CV picked up on his reporting about the solicitor controversy in WA. LuLac Political Letter editor David Yonki was spot on in his prediction in the recent Luzerne County Council race and is a regular on the radio and WYLN's public affairs broadcasts. Even I got in on the electric media recently when Tiffany Cloud invited me to be a guest on her show Storm Politics to talk about the impact of political blogging. And we all owe a debt of gratitude to the Blogfather for his work at Wilkes-Barre Online that broke one story after another that was latter picked up the newspapers often without attribution.

Blogfest was a hit again this year and I expect the spring edition will be the political event of the season like it has been the last 4 times we did it. I was flabbergasted by the turnout for the first one and many people tell me that it is their favorite political gathering. This year the primary is April 24th because of the Presidential election so it presents a scheduling dilemma. We always do it on a Friday but Good Friday is April 6th so that leaves either April 13th only 10 days before the primary election or March 30th. I think March 30th would work but we need to nail down the date. I usually invite all sorts of big shots to Blogfest and some of them even show up. We need to set a date to give a heads up to the statewide candidates for US Senator, PA Attorney General and Auditor General plus the local hopefuls for Congress, State Senate and House.


D.B. Echo said...

I think one of the great underreported, undercited stories on 2011 is the slow, grinding, gnawing, relentless change coming through the Pennsylvania government's total commitment to making this a frack-friendly state. It's not in the big stories, but in the little things that hit page 6 and then go away: Cabot Oil stopping delivery of water to the Dimock residents whose wells were contaminated (and who won a judgement against Cabot - before it was later overturned), the continued bubbling of methane into the Susquehanna (and where else? would we notice methane being released anywhere other than under water?), the elimination of local control over any zoning regulations involving fracking, the death of John Jones III on July 31 when an out-of-control fracking truck overturned onto his car, killing him and injuring his daughter, the recent collision of two fracking trucks that resulted in a spill of "drilling mud" (doesn't that sound benign?) into a creek, the intentional dumping of fracking waste onto game lands, the poaching of deer out-of-season and without a license by employees of the drilling industry, the arrest of a group of illegal immigrants working for a fracking contractor, and on and on and on... In two years or so, people will look at the glowing skies at night, hear the continuous industrial clamor, look at the unsellable status of their houses, look at the destruction of freshwater supplies and the contamination of creeks and streams, shake their heads at the latest deaths due to a fracking truck accident, read about the latest crimes perpetrated by roughnecks from Oklahoma and Texas and Georgia, and ask "What happened? How did this happen?"

Anonymous said...

Gort, I'm sure you Luzerne County Row Officer comment was tongue in cheek or just a simple comment meant to exaggerate the form of government but the way I look at it is that there were 11 Row Officers and now there are two.
3 Commissioners
1 DA (Still exists)
1 Controller (Still exists)
1 Treasurer
1 Prothonotary
1 Recorder of Deeds
1 Recorder of Wills
1 Clerk of Courts
1 Sheriff
If I missed one, just fill it in, it won't make any difference in the end result.
They received salaries of under $40,000 and will be replaced with 6 managers who will earn in the $75,000 range. Each of the Row Officers had a deputy and there doesn't seem to be a plan to keep or eliminate those positions.

Of course the parting shot by Petrilla and urban was to de fund the remaining Row Officers whose terms have not expired and they are required to be paid by law. They also eliminated at least one deputy that being in the office of the Prothonotary and lets not forget that the three clowns did not budget for the staff of former magistrate Danbury's office.

The Committee who wrote the new Charter did a superb job of fixing county government so they could remove politics from government but all they actually did was to eliminate the voice of the people. The new manager will do what ever he/she wants and the only input by the Council is to approve first the county manager and the 6 choices he makes in hiring the departmental managers. Their job is then done till the budget comes up for approval.

My point in all of this is that you said that other counties are operating this way and I beg to differ. Not even close! This is a cluster F#*k in the highest order. It can't work and it won't work. I'm not being negative just to be negative, this system is terribly flawed and just won't work. Look at the report of who the new manager will be. He is in personal foreclosure in California and he has had 9 jobs in 18 years. WTF are these people thinking? Were the applicants that bad? As they told us in the service, bend over and spread your cheeks ....... we are about to get it. In closing, let me just say, God help poor Tom Pribula. They are giving him a job this is nothing less than a monster.