Sunday, October 30, 2005
Inflatable dam in Wilkes-Barre
The inflatable dam in W-B is in the news again. When I first heard about it my first reaction was this sounds like pie in the sky. After reading up on the project, it still does.
When I was a kid I went fishing between the the Market St. and Pierce St. bridges. We would throw our lines out and reel in sucker after sucker with an occasional carp. We didn't even use bait, not much has changed. The last time I was near the river it smelled like a sewer. From what I understand, when it rains the storm water runoff overwhelms the treatment plants because they are tied to the same drainage systems. Some action has been taken to isolate the systems but it will take a long time and much money. I remember seeing these orange things in the water and a buddy explained they were "Jimmy Floaters."
The Jimmy Floaters are a result of sewage mixing with mine water and the rest of the poison in the river. I think congressman Kanjorski should at least be credited with trying to come up with an idea to improve things. But a river has to flow and building a dam is not a viable option.
When I wrote about his opponent in the upcoming election who's main criticism was the dam, Joe Leonardi the Republican candidate made it a centerpiece of his campaign. It's probably a minor issue for most people but the cleaning up the river is important to all of us.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Baseball is over here comes Winter
So the off season chatter begins. Who will be hired as General Manager and where will the free agents go?
The Phillies principle owner put out a statement a few days ago:
After extensive study and charting every home run the past two seasons, we have decided to make changes to the existing left field wall. Details on this project will be forthcoming.
They are going to move the fence back! In this day of home runs, it's good to see a team try to make a correction.
State Supreme Court Justices Russell Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman
I received an interesting e-mail from Jim Panyard, a Republican candidate for Governor. He points outs many things that are wrong with the way we pick judges in Pennsylvania and how people can register their outrage over the recent pay raise. He even quotes Vito Corleone to support his argument! Anyone who uses the Godfather to make a political point is all right by me. It is such a well reasoned position, I have to share it with you:
The Panyard Report #2 From: James Panyard
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 10:59 AM
Subject: The Panyard Report#2
WILL THERE BE A COST FOR THE SUPREME COURT PAY GRAB?
By Jim Panyard
Pennsylvania's judicial elections have, based on voter turnouts, meant very little to the state's voters. Traditionally a turnout of 12 to 15 percent of registered voters, or about 6 or 7 percent of those over the age of 18, has determined who will dispense truth and justice from state benches.
The system for selecting judges is deeply flawed. It politicizes those who are supposed to dispense "blind justice" and objectively interpret state law.
When judges are beholden to the money and voter turnout mustered by special interest groups such as labor unions, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers, state lawmakers and political parties, they cease to be "citizens above suspicion."
Controversial rulings by Pennsylvania courts, up to and including the state Supreme Court, are always colored by a deep suspicion that someone or some group "pulled some strings." Those suspicions are warranted.
Lawyers seeking to become judges aren't picked by an Act of God. They have been politically active, party loyalists, significant contributors to Republican or Democrat candidates and parties and have shown a willingness to, if "not rock the boat", then to at least "play ball" and be aware of "how the system works."
One is reminded of the classic film, "The Godfather." Don Vito Corleone tells a subject he has just granted a favor, "Perhaps, some time in the future, and that time may never come, I will call upon you for a favor."
Imagine a lawyer, desirous of becoming a judge, asking a regional or statewide political Don for his favor and help in securing election to a judgeship. The words may not be the same as those of Don Vito, but do you imagine the message is any different?
This November 8 Pennsylvanians will again have the opportunity to select judges, but the scene is slightly different than the typical "off year", low turnout, apathetic voter judicial election.
Two state Supreme Court Justices, Russell Nigro, a Democrat and Sandra Newman, a Republican, must stand for "retention" to secure another 10-year term on the state's high court. They are both from the Philadelphia region of the state.
What makes this year's election different is that taxpayers are still enraged about the mammoth, unconstitutional pay grabs for the governor, state lawmakers - and state judges - that was passed on July 7th, at 2 a.m.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Ralph Cappy, who, fortunately for Ralph, is not standing for retention this year, was the original designer of the pay hikes ranging from 16 to 54 percent.
That makes Nigro and Newman potential targets of voter wrath on Nov. 8. The Republican Party that carried the pay raises through the state House and Senate, both of which it controls, has already said it will put up significant dollars to defend Newman. In all likelihood, the Democrats will do the same for Nigro.
On the other side of the financially imbalanced scale are angry taxpayers who may or may not get up off their duffs on Nov. 8 to sacrifice Newman and Nigro as symbols of their disgust with "business as usual in Harrisburg."
There is no well funded, statewide organized campaign to set the upheaval in motion. Just a glowing hope that people still care enough about their freedom to use what is left of it in the voting booth
(Mr. Panyard is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania.)
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thanks to the Times-Tribune:
The first Hooters Air flight took off for Florida at 7 a.m. Thursday and arrived on time.
The low-cost carrier affiliated with the Hooters restaurant chain begins with two round trips a week to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, Fla. Starting Nov. 17, Hooters will double the weekly flights to both Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, airport officials said Thursday. Some of the added flights will make brief stops at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown to pick up additional passengers.
This is great, another choice when you want to go somewhere.
What the hell is a Prothonotary?
And why is it an elected position? It's an administrative post with no policy making powers. We have many elective offices that are clerical in nature, this is one of them. I doubt if many people know what the Prothonotary, Register of Wills or Clerk of Courts even do. I even saw a TV ad for some guy that is running for Tax Collector someplace. His name was Charlie Spano and the ad didn't even tell you what district he is running in.
All these positions probably require someone with good organizational skills and maybe in the past it was important to have elections for them. Today I think we have too many jobs up for election and it becomes confusing. These jobs should be filled with people with strong managerial backgrounds and they should be hired by the elected officials who have policy resposibilties. In short, an administration. We had that chance a few years ago when a new county charter was proposed, but it failed.
So we are stuck with another election for offices we don't know a lot about. But at least there are some fireworks in one of them. Some choice quotes in the Prothonotay race.
From the Times-Leader:
During a interview Thursday with the Times Leader editorial board that, Medico Olenginski, a Republican who lost re-election four years ago, said:
-Revenue is down while filings in the office are up.
-The office's new computer software program isn't working well.
-Prothonotary Jill Moran is rarely in the office.
-Some checks are taking too long to cash and process.
Moran fire back:
Moran insists the computer system was a wise choice.
"Mrs. Olenginski hasn't been in the office since I took office, so how would she have personal knowledge about the computer? I'd be interested in having an intelligent conversation with her because she doesn't know what it does or how it works. "We went live March 1. No data was lost. That is just an absolute lie. I'll call it what it is because it's an absolute lie."
And Carolee let's her have it:
Medico Olenginski said many people have reported to her that Moran is rarely in the courthouse office, and Medico Olenginski doesn't buy Moran's excuse that she's often working out of the Hazleton office. Medico Olenginski said she would be a full-time prothonotary as she was before because of her strong "work ethic."
Moran said she is in the office "as much as I need to be."
If we are going to have elections for these obscure offices at least we get some entertainment.
Friends of Charlie Luce
I received a piece of election mail today, the first of the season. It was from Charles F. Luce, an incumbent Wilkes-Barre Area School Board Director. In it he points out that he received the Republican nomination but lost the Democratic nod by 12 votes. He points out that he is "still a Democrat but on the Republican ballot."
And that's all it said!
The school board was envisioned as a non-partisan position. That's why the members are not paid and the candidates are allowed to cross file for election.
None of the issues facing our schools were addressed. Not even the usual I did this, that and the other and want to do better in the future.
Vote for me because I'm a Democrat, pretty lame.
Note: The picture is of Coughlin High School in 1919 from Capt'n Clint's Place.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Effective marketing, serious art or both?
Alex at Pstupidonymous is off travelling the world this week and has taken a break from blogging. But he left us with something to think about.
By STEVE QUINNAssociated Press Writer
High prices for oil and natural gas propelled Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to their best quarterly results ever on Thursday, with Exxon becoming the first U.S. company ever to ring up quarterly sales of $100 billion.
To put Exxon's performance into perspective, its third quarter revenue was greater than the annual gross domestic product of some of the largest oil producing nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. The world's largest publicly traded oil company also set a profit record for U.S. companies by posting net income of almost $10 billion, according to Standard & Poor's equity market analyst Howard Silverblatt.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Erik Knappman vs.Maryanne Petrilla
Now we have to decide who will succeed him. I have to admit I don't know much about either candidate. Maryanne Petrilla is the Butler Township manager. I don't know what her responsibilities are, but it sounds like she is the mayor of the town. If so, I would like to hear from somebody who lives there and tell me if the trash is picked up and streets are plowed when it snows. Her opponent is Eric Knappman who had a financial advise show on WILK. He has a construction business and became a certified financial counselor.
I haven't been contacted by either candidate in the mail or any other means. If anyone has more info please send it to me.
Some news from around Pennsylvania
The Washington Post has a summary of some of Don Sherwood's recent fundraising. He has received $26,000 from the PACs of the House Republican leadership. An interesting note is that the money can be used for either election or legal expenses. That's a relief as I was wondering how he was going to pay his lawyers.
The civil war in the PA Republican party has spilled into Montgomery County. The County Chairman is instructing people to back off the pay raise. If the reaction on GrassrootsPA is any indication, he may have thrown gasoline on the fire.
For news, opinions, and issues affecting the people of Upstate Pennsylvania check out the The Bud Angst Report. He covers taxes, protests, hunting and more.
LVDem covers several interesting stories at Keystone Politics. A bill has been introduced in Harrisburg to scrap emissions testing of cars that is probably going nowhere because of federal mandates. He also gives an update on the Allentown mayoral election and pay raise repeal-not. But the best story is about a controversy involving a singing parrot:
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A yellow-naped Amazon parrot from the National Aviary in Pittsburgh sang 'How much is that doggie in the window?' and 'Alouette' to surprised senators Tuesday. The parrot, named Groucho, sat on a perch in a Senate visitors' balcony and sang in a warbling, croaking voice for several minutes after Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, who presides over the chamber, formally recognized the bird and an aviary staff member with it.
Immediately afterward, Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer, the chamber's president pro tempore, was seen scolding Knoll on the Senate floor.
The last few days the Blogfather has been pointing out just how stupid some of the arguments in Washington are. People aren't so much concerned about Harriet Miers, Roe vs. Wade or teaching evolution as they are about heating their homes this winter. And he takes exception to my snarky comments about Cheney's visit. I don't think it is possible to wage class warfare today. I remember at the last Republican convention they declared the War on Poverty to be over, the poor lost.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military announced the death of an American soldier wounded in Iraq on Tuesday, bringing to 2,000 the number of American service members killed since the war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, said via email, "The 2,000th Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine that is killed in action is just as important as the first that died and will be just as important as the last to die in this war .....
Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 15,000 American service members have been wounded in the conflict, according to the Defense Department.
According to CNN's tally, 2,194 coalition troops have died in the war.
General Zod 2008
Which reminded me of something Pope George Ringo brought to my attention a few days ago. General Zod is running for President! Finally, a candidate we can all willingly obey or else. Reading his platform, he does sound like a Republican but plans to run as an independent. He states his reasons for running clearly:
When I first came to your planet and demanded your homes, property and very lives, I didn't know you were already doing so, willingly, with your own government. I can win no tribute from a bankrupted nation populated by feeble flag-waving plebians. In 2008 I shall restore your dignity and make you servants worthy of my rule.
Check out his entire platform at General Zod 2008.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Some seem content that the recent spike in prices have somewhat abated and don't think it should an issue to be concerned about anymore.
Well I don't know anyone who isn't concerned about the price of gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas. It cost me $2.50 a gallon to gas up my car yesterday and I was recently notified that our budget plan to heat our home will be $50 more per month than last year. That is a big chunk of money that I would normally spend on other things. This enormous rise in energy costs in such a short time frame is going to have all sorts of negative consequences. Inflation is going to spike as the price of energy affects the price of just about everything. People will have less disposable income and will be forced to cut back purchases of non-essential goods and services. And that will hurt retail sales, manufacturing and entertainment industries. If inflation keeps increasing at the 1.9% (22.8% per year) rate it did last month the Fed will hit the brakes, raise interest rates dramatically and probably send the economy into recession. Not to mention the hardship it will cause for people of modest means who are going to have to make some very unpleasant choices.
This is not a new problem. We have gone through one oil crises after another since 1974 when OPEC cut off our supply because of the US support of Israel in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. President Carter tried to move this country toward energy independence and was ridiculed for his efforts. Because of our dependence on foreign oil this country is now involved in the 2nd war in the Middle East in the last 15 years. There are more to come. Oil is the biggest national security threat to our country. If we didn't need oil who cares if Iraq invades Kuwait or any other country? We wouldn't be sending billions of dollars to the middle east to fund their armies and terrorists. Right now the US is financing both sides of the war in Iraq. The Republicans answer? Give tax breaks to companies that are swimming in money to encourage more drilling. Common sense measures like raising the CAFE standards, encouraging conservation and developing alternative fuels are ignored. Of course there is no money in doing those things. Am I the only one who doesn't think it's a coincidence that the top jobs in the government are held by oil men and we're paying almost $3 a gallon for gas?
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Dick Cheney's visit
Vehicles under $40,000 were in short supply on Sutton Road in Jackson Township on Friday. BMWs, big model Mercedes and even a Bentley were common sights in the upscale neighborhood that played host to a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
I drive a Ford.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
More Red Ink
Luzerne County is facing another hole in it's budget and the Commissioners have decided to borrow another $14 million using some creative accounting. As outlined in the TL this years shortfall is a result of a failure to collect about $6.5 million in taxes over the last 2 years and not getting together the paperwork in time to refinance existing debt that would have saved over $8 million. I suppose this is some sort of progress as they borrowed $17 million last year to pay the bills. Put this new loan on top of all the other borrowing they have done for capitol improvements and pretty soon most of the county budget is going to be used for debt service.
The World Series
From a history standpoint you almost can't get a better matchup. The Astros have never even been to the series in their 43 years of playing ball. But the sentimental choice will be the White Sox who last won it in 1917. They lost to the Dodgers in 1959 and haven't been back since. They had two other appearances that are notable. The 1919 team that lost to the Reds will forever be known as the Black Sox because of a gambler's attempt to fix the outcome. That scandal still affects the game today, just ask Pete Rose. And in 1906 they won their first title by beating the crosstown Cubs.
It should be a great series, I just wish it was on earlier.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Chris Carney for Congress
The Carney campaign is joining in a creative way to reach voters. Instead of the usual blather and glandhanding how about actually helping people out. The details are here:
Democrat Chris Carney, candidate for Congress Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional district, will participate in public service events organized by GoodWorks-PAC.org. On October 29, Carney will work in coordination with GoodWorks-PAC.org, local volunteers, and the Meals-on-Wheels Program of the Sunbury-Northumberland Interfaith Council of Churches to support housebound senior citizens in and around Sunbury, PA.
The whole idea is to help housebound seniors with their chores. It might be raking the leaves or going grocery shopping. The candidates should connect with the real problems of people and understand the challenges of everyday life. Most members of Congress are so busy raising money they forget about the problems of the people who sent them there.
Sewer Authority increases rates by $30
The board voted 12-1 to adopt a budget that increases rates by $30 a year for each household unit beginning in 2006. The rate for the average household will increase from $130 to $160 a year.
They are citing the increased cost of natural gas, loss of state funding and the closing of Techniglass as reasons for the hike. Add in the cost of gasoline and it's only a matter of time before the electric utilities put in for a rate increase. Only one board member questioned the increase and suggested ways to cut spending:
Joseph Mazur, the only authority board member to vote against adopting the budget, said the proposed budget concealed the rate increase. As he called for board members to postpone a vote on the budget, Mazur suggested that the authority could reduce expenses by eliminating frivolous expenses in the more than $17.6 million budget. He opposes monthly $700 allowances for five administrative employees who are on call around the clock. He also questioned the authority's three satellite offices in West Pittston, Wilkes-Bare and Nanticoke.
I read on the Authority web site that there are 14 board members. Why so many? Are these people paid? That's one area they can cut expenses. As Joe Mazur said;
"I can't see raping these poor people for something they really don't need."
Monday, October 17, 2005
We have something in common
Cindy Adams claims President Bush, "spending inordinate time working on handling his multiple problems of Iraq, Supreme Court, Karl Rove, gas prices, sliding polls, economy, has begun rehearsing answers to questions that might come up at a press conference.
More importantly, he's even watching reruns of West Wing."
This is good news, I think he can learn from President Bartlett. He should probably be watching this season. The White House is dealing with a national security leak. Sound familiar?
Sunday, October 16, 2005
One more thing to worry about
Pet owners worried as dog flu spreads across United States
"Experts said the flu is spreading steadily through the United States affecting dogs, with no vaccine available to curb it. Perhaps five percent of its victims are dying. "Researchers recently found to their surprise the virus had crossed over from horses to dogs, striking greyhounds at racetracks in 11 U.S. states. Now it has been found in pets in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state."
The whole story is available at Canada.com
I guess if this gets to be a big problem the military will start drafting Veterinarians as the proposed solution to a bird flu outbreak is to impose martial law. From CNN:
A call by President George W. Bush for Congress to give him the power to use the military in law enforcement roles in the event of a bird flu pandemic has been criticized as akin to introducing martial law.Every time you wake up in the morning the government is trying to scare the hell out of you. What happened to the confidence in our people that Ronald Reagan always spoke of? We are better than these fear mongers that are in charge at the moment. If you listen to Bush long enough you will never get out of bed in the morning. They want you to lay there with the covers over your head, pissing your pants worrying about the bogey man under the bed or in the closet.
Why I prefer to shop by myself
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Lots of happenings in our county seat. The biggest political news is that the city council has appointed another commission to draw up the lines for new districts that will come into effect in 2007. From the TL:
City council voted last week to throw out the existing districts and form a new commission. Councilwoman Kathy Kane said that decision was motivated primarily by a dislike of the sprawling districts that gave little regard for neighborhoods.
The first plan drawn up by a commission in 2002 was a work of true gerrymandering. It divided the city into strips that cut across the neighborhoods. When the referendum was approved I think most people wanted a local councilperson to represent where they live. That spirit was ignored by the previous commission. At first I didn't like the idea of districts as it would lead to horse trading; you vote to pave my street, I will vote to fix your bridge, etc. But when I think back having a local advocate might have helped. I grew up in the North End and one of the worst things that ever happened to us was when they closed the Hollenback swimming pool because they built a new one at Coal Street Park. The kids of North End, Brookside, Parsons and Miners Mills had their swimming pool taken away. The new one was in the Heights. I wasn't allowed to go to the Heights because my Mom thought it was too far and not safe.
Hasay is hiding out
State Representative George Hasay was a no show for the Luzerne County GOP shindig. Bill Fitz is very disapointed, check out the details at My Take.
Friday, October 14, 2005
The cost of health care impacts every business large or small. I read recently that almost $10,000 of new American car goes to pay for employee and retiree health care costs. When I was a manager of a small hotel we kept as many positions as possible part time to avoid benefit costs. I now work for a large concern but my premiums and co-pays have gone through the roof. I recently had to deal with a family member who needs long term care and she lost her house to pay for it. This is NUTS! We are the richest country on earth and we can’t figure how to take care of our people. And don’t tell me the government can’t efficiently administer a large health care plan. Medicare spends 3% on administration while most private plans are in the range of 20-25%.
From the TL:
Health insurance costs are estimated to rise 15 percent for Luzerne County government workers in 2006.
Why can't the state and the county employees join forces. The more numbers the better the deal. Mix in the schools and you have great deal.
Blame it on the internet and video games
WILKES-BARRE – A male juvenile was arrested on disorderly conduct charges after he made a homemade explosive device using toilet bowl cleaner on South Welles Street on Wednesday, police said. The incident is under investigation.
This kid may have a bright future as a chemical engineer.
Santorum and U2
Senator Rick Santorum is holding a $1000 a head fundraiser during the upcoming U2 concert in Philadelphia. It was originally reported in a way to suggest that Bono supported him. Carl at Simply Left Behind has a good play by play:
Yesterday, Rick Santorum's office issued a press release disguised as a story in Newsmax.com.
On Sunday, October 16, a unique political event will take place. At a concert of the legendary rock group U2, Senator Rick Santorum will hold a fund-raising event for one night only. (emphasis added).
U2 front man Bono is no stranger to Washington, D.C. He has come often to the nation's capital to network with politicians on behalf of his many causes. Santorum met Bono earlier this year, having been introduced by John Kasich, the former congressman from Ohio and host of Fox News Channel's "Heartland."
Naturally, Bono and the organization this tour is supporting, DATA, were quick to issue an embarrassing response...
"It is not uncommon for politicians, from both parties, to organize events at all kinds of music concerts and other entertainment events. If any political fundraising events take place at a U2 concert, it is without the involvement or knowledge of Data, U2 or Bono. U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician - they are rock concerts for U2 fans."
CapitolBuzz sums it up:
NewsMax's misleading story that U2's Bono is raising money for Santorum is particularly interesting since in his book, It Takes A Family, Santorum describes Bono as satanic and ties U2 to the liberal view of society that Senator Rick hates so much. It's also noteworthy that Santorum is more than willing to stomach U2 when he's raising money for his campaign. His hypocrisy knows no bounds.
This behavior is not new for the Senator from Virginia. When he put himself in the middle of the tragic Terri Schiavo situation in Florida he cancelled a town hall meeting about Social Security out of "respect for the family." However he was able to make it to three fundraisers in the state and came away with over $200,000 in campaign cash.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I asked for local links and you have responded. This picture is of the USS Wilkes-Barre, a Cleveland class cruiser built during WWII. If you want the details of the ship it's here. The ship was damaged by a Kamikaze off Okinowa in 1945.
Retention of Judges
State Supreme Court Justices Russell Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman (pictured at left) , both of Philadelphia, are up for a 10 year retention vote on November 8. They were both elected in pointless statewide elections were the candidates can't answer any questions about the issues of the day so we usually get bio ads that tell us how tough on criminals they have been and end by saying they will lock up all the drug dealers. That has been a succesful policy as we all know since all the drug dealers have been taken off the street since they were elected. So now we must decide if they deserve to continue on the bench.
A new twist has been added this year as they have become the lightening rods for everyone who is mad about the pay raise recently enacted by the legislature in Harrisburg. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
Citizen groups angry about state legislators' big pay raise want to vote incumbent lawmakers out of office on Nov. 8. There's only one problem -- there aren't any legislators up for re-election next month. So the pay-raise protesters are doing what they consider to be the next best thing. They're urging Pennsylvanians to take out their frustrations on two state Supreme Court justices who are up for a 10-year retention election on Nov. 8 -- Russell Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman. Ousting them, the protesters say, would send a strong statewide message that political incumbents aren't safe, no matter who they are, and it might even lead legislators to rethink the raise.
Thanks to Republicans and Conservatives for pointing out this article. DJB makes a very good case on why we should vote no on these people. As the article points out these people are get along/go along with everything that is wrong with Harrisburg.
More reasons to vote against these two was detailed by John Baer in the Daily News. Mr. Nigro has a taste for expensive restaurants:
He charges for lunches of more than $100 at Capital Grille and the Four Seasons; dinners of more than $200 at Bliss and Pompeii; dinners of more than $300 at Mio Sogno and Prime Rib: dinners of more than $400 at Prime Rib and Morton's.
Newman has more modest tastes:
She charges for her AOL and Comcast hookups, for her On Star service and for $10 tips to hotel bellhops and doormen (nothing against bellhops and doormen; just wish her generosity came out of her own pocket). She charged $165 for a private driver to take her to a conference. And she charged $5.05 for a soft drink and a quart of Half & Half from the Acme "for a meeting."
All this on their expense accounts! You and me pay for this.
I have always voted no on these retention questions, now I have a good reason.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Ed Wade is fired
One World championship in 120 years. 5 appearances in the World Series 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983 and 1993. And people obsess about the Cubs and Red sox futility.
Somebody had to take the fall and take responsibility. The team this year was exciting. They didn't fold down the stretch. I remember all the so called experts saying they would need 90 wins to make the playoffs. But they won 88 and missed the playoffs by a game. They were right.
He signed Jim Thome and Billy Wagner but locked up payroll on Lieberthall, Abreu and Bell.
We need a Billy Bean type guy. There a few experienced GMs out there, I hope the Phillies will grab one.
There is an election in Luzerne County?
The most important position is Controller. Our present Controller Steve Flood was a pain in the neck to the powers that be and he was targeted by his own party for defeat. He was willing to put up his hand and was willing to say stop and think about this. So now the Democratic nominee is Maryanne Petrilla the business manager for Butler Twp. I don't know much about her but I hope she will put her loyalty to the taxpayers ahead of her debt to the party. Speaking of debt, her last filing shows she has a $70,000 campaign debt. Her opponent is Eric Knappman who I know nothing about. Even my friends in the local GOP don't know much about him. If anyone can enlighten me, please do.
We have a rematch in the Prothonatry race. Jill Moran, the incumbent Democratic prothonotary candidate is up again against the previous occupant Republican Carolee Medico Olenginski. I'm not sure how to measure performance in this job as the duties are record keeping and administration. It probably should not even be an elected position. I don't think most people even know what a Prothonatary does. A long time ago when I had less gray hair someone was pitching a candidate for this office to me. My reaction was "what the hell is a prothonatary." I miss Carolee, her act with Fred Williams on WILK was always entertaning. Moran is another one who owes allot of people money, she has $139,000 in campaign debt.
I'm not sure about the Register of Wills race. Dottie Stankovic was renominated and don't even know if there is a Republican in the race. The county party chairman gave her ringing endorsement after the primary:
"There's obviously bad blood out there. There's no mandate for Dotty with the number of votes she got. She and certain other people have been a cancer within the organization."
She has my vote.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
There is some great info on local history at the Wilkes University website.
The naming of Wilkes-Barre was meant as an insult to King George III although other towns in the area were named in his honor.
A little background:
The Stamp Act was introduced in the House of Commons in February 1765. Barre was the single most vocal opponent of the tax in the House; he predicted rebellion in the Colonies. In a famous speech in opposition to the Stamp which stunned the House, Barre called the British Colonists in America the "Sons of Liberty," a catch-word which ignited passion in the New England settlements, but did not stay passage of the Stamp Act by Parliament.
When the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, the town of Boston had a portrait of Barre hung in Faneuil Hall. The portrait was later destroyed by British troops during the Boston siege of 1775.
John Wilkes was a vocal opponent of the King's ministers. Whether he was a dedicated reformer, or an opportunist with unusual wit, can be debated. Nevertheless, Wilkes became a symbol of British and Colonial national rights and liberties which an oppressive government sought to suppress. His confrontations (or antics) were closely followed in Massachusetts and Connecticut newspapers, and Colonial assemblies would periodically meet in local taverns to cheer Wilkes' legal victories over Parliament.
Major John Durkee, President of the Settlers, began to use the name "Wilkesbarre" for the region near the Connecticut fort in his official correspondence. Durkee's designation of the critical center of the settlement as Wilkesbarre, of course, honored John Wilkes and Isaac Barre. The name Wilkesbarre assuaged Durkee's patriotic ardor, and was a shot across the Atlantic in the direction of the King's ministers.
OK, maybe I'm getting carried away with the history lesson. What set me off was I was listening to the Kings College radio station yesterday and the person doing the station ID said Wilkes-Bahhrrrr. Get the name of the town right. What do they teach in college? I grew up here and its always been Wilkes-Berry. That's berry, not bear or bahrr. Our town was named after a great man at least pronounce his name right.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
I'm happy he likes my description of him:
The "blogfather?" That's a freakin' new one. Somebody once called me the "Rush Limbaugh of Wilkes-Barre," which really isn't the case. Yet another called me the "Matt Drudge of Wilkes-Barre," which, while Tom McGroarty was the mayor, was probably completely accurate. But, the "blogfather?" I like that.
Anyways, y'all should check out Gort 42. Add it to your faves and get a free Sony Playstation III for a limited time only.
I think someone also descibed him as the Jonathan Swift of Wilkes-Barre. I agree he is not the Rush of W-B. Unlike Rush he does his research. Sometimes when I listen to these talk radio clowns I'm reminded of the old saying "why let the facts get in the way of a good opinion."
Unfortunately I have run out of free Playstations. If you want one I suggest you contact the Blogfather at:
I'm sure he will make you an offer you can't refuse.
Friday, October 07, 2005
More about Wi-Fi in Wilkes-Barre
From the TL:
Philadelphia’s getting all of the attention, but Mayor Tom Leighton wants to beat it to the wireless punch. The city might create a nonprofit corporation, Wire Free Wilkes-Barre, to guide the project much as Philadelphia has done, according to the plan.
The aggressive timeline is in part due to a state law signed by Gov. Ed Rendell in November, Murphy said. After Street announced Philadelphia’s plans in 2004, local Internet providers objected to what they called unfair municipal competition.
The state responded with a law requiring governments to offer local providers the chance to build their own Wi-Fi networks before municipal plans are developed.
That requirement is avoided if a network is in place before the end of the year, Murphy said.
Unfair competition? The companies that want to provide this service are telco's and internet providers. For the most part they have monopolies.
West Wing live
September 6, 2005 -- In a first for NBC's "The West Wing" (Sundays, 8-9 p.m. ET), the Emmy Award-winning series will broadcast a live episode featuring a debate between presidential candidates Congressman Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) on Sunday, Nov. 6 (8-9 p.m. ET).
Live TV is risky and I hope they pull it off. The show has left political reality but it’s still good. Arnie Vinnick is a Republican I could vote for so he could never actually get nominated. It should be fun.
Last week's episode was good. From Television without pity:
In his office, Toby takes Josh's call. Josh is asking that they do something to quiet down the leak story, but Toby breaks it to him that the White House is ending its investigation of the leak. Josh recognizes that this will throw the focus onto security issues for a while, giving Vinick a chance to dominate the discussion and contrast himself with the Democrats. Josh starts yelling at Toby, who just hangs up on him.
Then the Bombshell:
Josh tells Santos that the AP has a photograph of something that happened in his hotel bed in Cleveland: "Is there anything you'd like to tell me?" Unspoken but implied are the words "before I tear your eyes you, you cheating hussy." Santos: "His name is Bruce. He's a flight attendant on Aer Lingus." I think I know that guy. Santos leans back against the wall of the elevator, and sighs. "At first, it was long walks..." And that's when Josh loses it. Santos maintains the joke for a second, looking horribly offended that Josh would laugh at him just as he's sharing this difficult story. Josh apologizes for doubting Santos, pointing out that it's his job to ask these questions. And then Santos says, "Wait a minute. Cleveland?"
Thursday, October 06, 2005
From Blondesense :
If...President Bush were to tell me that it's sunny outside, while a lowly mule was telling me that the sky was falling, I would without hesitation go down to the basement and stay there until the mule told me that the sky had stopped falling.And although the mule could stay in the basement with me, I would not permit the President the accommodation.The Dark Wraith would not have enough extra food for both a wise mule and a dumb ass. -- The Dark Wraith
Welcome to the Late Show, ladies and gentlemen. It's like the Supreme Court, anyone can get in here.--David Letterman
We're learning more and more about Tom Delay. ... He was nicknamed, 'Hot Tub Tom,' got kicked out of Baylor for drinking and ... became a wild party animal who drank 10 martinis a night, or as they call it in Washington, a Kennedy. --Jay Leno
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is retiring. President Bush has already launched a search for the most inexperienced, incompetent candidate he can find. No, they'll find a replacement for Greenspan as soon as they figure out what the hell it is he does --David Letterman
President Bush has pledged to grant millions of dollars in tax breaks to national casino companies rushing to rebuild casinos along the Gulf Coast, giving residents who haven't already lost their house a chance to do so.--Daily Show commentator Lewis Black
Pension fund blues
The Luzerne County pension fund will have another big hole to fill this year. From the TL:
It's looking like taxpayers will again be forced to pay about $7 million to shore up Luzerne County's employee pension fund next year. Luzerne County Controller Steve Flood announced the estimate during Wednesday's budget hearings.
Luzerne County's fund did not require subsidies from 1991 through 2000 when healthy investment returns more than covered payouts to present and future retirees. But the fund dipped from a high of $203 million in 2000 to around $142 million in 2002.
The fund required $313,600 from the county in 2002, $5.3 million in 2003, $6.6 million in 2004 and $7.8 million in 2005.
Commissioners Chairman Greg Skrepenak blames a bad stock market but others point the finger at the previous Commissioners for paying too much in fees to money managers who made poor investment decisions. He also took a shot at the lawsuit against past commissioners and money managers that is trying to recoup some of the losses. I may actually be with Skrep on this one as the county has already spent $3 million from the pension fund on legal fees. Plus they are using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to persue recovery of the losses. The purpose of RICO was to eliminate the ill-affects of organized crime on the nation's economy. RICO was intended to destroy the Mafia not to settle political scores. Because of it's wide misuse the courts have been trying to restrict it's scope so now RICO has become one of the most complicated and unpredictable areas of the law.
I like Steve Flood and think he has been a very good controller but this lawsuit may drag on for years with very little benefit after all the lawyers are paid. I will miss him, Steve was good at asking questions and just saying no. The way this county has been run I found him to be one of the few willing to rock the boat. There are some that can't wait until he is out their hair.
Skrepenak asked county Budget/Finance Chief Sam Diaz to keep the controller's office budget flexible in case the newly elected controller wants to make any changes. Flood said during the hearing that his replacement will be Republican Erik Knappman. He still harbors resentment against Democrat Maryanne Petrilla, who beat him in the 2005 Primary.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Danny is back and he is all over the Tom Delay situation. Go visit him at:
hints, allegations and things left unsaid
My favorite self declared conservative who declares his mission is to defend America from Liberals is Dr. Rick. Some times I wonder if he gets his talking points from the White House or the RNC. At times his site reads like a transcripe of the Rush Windbag show. But he has some original ideas and it it is fun to argue with him:
The American Check-Up
Bill Fitz was probably the first local blogger to concentrate on local politics and is a sharp guy, even if he can't spell:
The blogfather of us all is Mark Cour who writes Wilkes-Barre Online. I don't always agree with him but for the most part I think he knows more about what is going on in W-B than any one else:
I know of a few sites in the area that deal with politics but they don't cover Luzerne County. Send me links people.
There a few local sites that are not political that I read.
Michele in Hanover is always amusing:
And Tim in South W-B gives you his take:
Tracks and tapes and thoughts and things
As I said before send me links to all local blogs
Monday, October 03, 2005
The New York Mercanaries have to go to California. The Angels always play the Yankees tough.
The Astros are hot but they have Braves in the first round. Fourteen straight division titles and I'm pulling for them.
The Padres with 82 wins don't even belong in the playoffs but they are in and will get clobbered by the Cards.
It should be fun.
Republicans spend to much money
From Alex at Pstupidonymous :
Here are the depressing facts. Domestic discretionary nondefense spending is up 70% since 1994. Spending growth slowed in 1995 and 1996 as the Republican-controlled House pushed for a balanced budget. But spending began to rise rapidly again in the later 1990s, as Republicans and Bill Clinton "compromised" by spending more on both of their priorities. And the gusher has continued under President Bush, as Republicans have failed to trim domestic pork to pay for the necessary increases in defense.
Except for the 2003 tax cuts, we can't think of a single recent major policy accomplishment. There have been smaller victories--trade bills, some modest tort reform, and now some judges approved. But the drive for major reform has stalled. Mr. Bush was a co-conspirator in passing the 2003 Medicare drug bill that is the largest expansion of the entitlement state since LBJ's Great Society. But even when Mr. Bush has pressed for reform, as he did this year on Social Security, Republicans on Capitol Hill have whined and resisted. If Mr. Bush failed to mobilize the country, it was in part because Congressional Republicans were so vocal in their caterwauling.
He linked to Opinion Journal for this analysis.
I have said this over and over again. What ever happened to the Republican party I grew up with? You remember them, balanced budgets and keeping the government out of your life.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Nittany Lions Roar
Penn State beat run-first Minnesota at its own game. Whether going off-tackle, around the end or just straight up the middle, the Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) ran roughshod over the No. 18 Gophers' porous defense.
In the process, they shut down the vaunted running attack of Minnesota (4-1, 1-1) and gave a big hit to Laurence Maroney's Heisman Trophy campaign, holding him to a season-low 48 yards.
We Are Back!
539 yards of total offense with 364 on the ground. The defense was great, holding the Gophers to 287 total yards. Their Heisman candidate was bottled up all day. Penn State beat run-first Minnesota at its own game.
Tom Delay and Don Sherwood
"Dennis Hastert decides against his first choice to replace Tom DeLay because he feels that people won't notice the difference. Later, ham sandwiches were served."
From the Washington Post:
A Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) yesterday on a charge of criminally conspiring with two political associates to inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House in Washington.
Delay's ties to Don Sherwood are documented at Chris Carney for Congress:
Don Sherwood has accepted over $14,800 dollars from Tom DeLay's PAC and during the past year has voted over 95% of the time with the majority leader. Earlier this year, Sherwood voted to weaken House Ethics rules in an effort to protect DeLay’s position as majority leader. (H Res 5, Roll Call #6, 1/4/05)
So Delay raises money illegally then funnels it to rubber stamps like Sherwood who does what he is told. No wonder many times when you are talking about politicians some one will chime in "their all crooks." Add this to the ongoing "stroke'em n' choke'em" lawsuit. The latest is Sherwood wants all records sealed:
Lawyers representing U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood in a $5.5 million assault and battery lawsuit filed by his former mistress are seeking to keep collected evidence and testimony confidential before the suit goes to court, according to documents filed in a Washington, D.C., federal court Friday.
Lawyers for the Tunkhannock Republican argue that the nature of Cynthia Ore's allegations center on "intimate details of the parties' personal lives," information that is generally protected by courts with a confidentiality order.
I interested what "intimate details" Sherwood wants to keep secret. Does he wear womens underwear or dress up as a biker? This might get as juicy as an episode of Desperate Housewives.
Fight nice boys
From the TL:
The Philadelphia consultant handling Luzerne County's employee buyout has hired two familiar faces in county government to work on the project. Wilkes-Barre attorney Peter Moses will be paid $10,000, and CaseCon Capital Inc. will receive $40,000.
Moses, the son of prominent Wilkes-Barre attorney John Moses, works as solicitor of the county prothonotary's office for $9,012 annually.
The one recent decision they made on their own is to give a real estate developer a 10 year tax break on a $100 million project and agree to maintain the business parks roads, boy that's a great deal for the rest of us taxpayers who will pick up the tab. Steve Urban gets mad when they make decissions without his input. I don't believe it's as bad as when Crossin would give him the agenda 10 minutes before he had to vote on something but he is an elected commissioner and should be informed.
Here are few choice quotes from the Times- Leader:
Skrep: You get tired of getting punched in the face over and over again, and I'm going to punch back. If he wants to play the game this way, we'll play.
I pay mine. He doesn't pay his. In my book that's a hypocrite. Do as I say, not as I do.
Vondy: We've endured 20 months of criticism from him. Not proposing, solving or leading - just criticizing. There should always be opposition, dialogue and debate on issues, but that's not what's happening here. It's I hate everything you guys propose and it's not good enough.
He is consistently cowardly, consistently devoid of leadership and consistently on the side of yesterday. He is regressive and more concerned about hate. To just criticize is the easiest thing to do and the least responsible thing to do.
We would all love the luxury to be Monday morning quarterbacks, getting to sit back and take shots and not have to lead and make decisions, He's Steve 'no-fault' Urban.
I love Urbans response:
He recommends that Skrepenak and Vonderheid grow thicker skins, saying he wasn't elected to go with the flow. Urban says majority commissioners are frustrated because they don't want to "take any heat."
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Sen. Charles Lemmond retires
From the TL:
When state Sen. Charles Lemmond retires a little more than a year from now, he will have left his mark on Pennsylvania's political landscape: from helping his party gain seats in Congress to helping newborn children with hearing impairments.
The 76-year-old Dallas Republican recently announced he would not run for a sixth term in office, vacating the 20th Senatorial District seat he took in 1985 when his term ends in December 2006.
State Sen. Charles Lemmond, R-Dallas, will retire at the end of his term in December 2006. He will have been in office for 21 years, serving five full terms and one year of his predecessor's unexpired term. Here are some of his legislative highlights:
1985 Won a special election to fill the vacancy left by outgoing Sen. FrankO'Connell Jr.
1986 Won his first general election against Democrat Joseph Bilbow
1989 Only Luzerne County lawmaker to vote against a law that imposed new restrictions on abortions in Pennsylvania
1991 Led Pennsylvania's redistricting effort after the 1990 census
1992 Helped write Pennsylvania's living-will law, called the Advance Directive for Health Care Act of 1992.
1995 Sponsored law to allow judges to consider an adult defendant's juvenile record in determining bail.
2001 Again helped redraw Pennsylvania's congressional districts after the 2000 census.
2004 Voted against Act 71, which expanded gambling in Pennsylvania by legalizing slot machines at 14 locations around the state.
I guess the best description of him is that he is a Rockefeller Republican. An endangered species these days. Now the race is on to replace him. One candidate has already thrown his hat into the ring. Dallas chiropractor David Madeira has declared his candidacy and has a web site up:
Two other Republicans are considering a run, Lisa Baker of Lehman Township and Kingston Mayor James Haggerty. My friend Bill Fitz of My take has a thing for her but I don't know enough to make a a judgement. Baker has worked for Lemmond and Govs. Mark Schweiker and Tom Ridge. Haggerty seems to be a competent Mayor, the town pays it's bills on time and it hasn't burnt down on his watch. No serious Democrat has emerged yet, maybe Skrep will take a look at it.
More progress in Iraq
From the Citizens Voice:
Five Northeastern Pennsylvania soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing west of Baghdad on Wednesday, driving the state's death toll in Iraq to more than 100, Pennsylvania Army National Guard officials said Friday. The deaths of the soldiers, all members of the Scranton-based 1st Battalion, 109th Mechanized Infantry, represent the largest loss of life from a single attack on Pennsylvania soldiers in Iraq. Nineteen Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldiers have been killed in Iraq.
Killed were: Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Arnold, 27, of Montrose. Staff Sgt. George A. Pugliese, 39, of Carbondale. Spc. Oliver J. Brown, 19, Athens, Bradford County. Spc. Lee A. Wiegand, 20, of Hallstead. Spc. Eric W. Slebodnik, 21, of Greenfield Township.
The soldiers were providing security for engineers building a railroad bridge when an improvised explosive device struck their M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Guard officials said. The vehicle was then hit by rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms fire, setting it ablaze.
This was co-ordinated attack by a force that the Secretary of Defense described as a bunch of dead enders. Is there an answer to this madness? A Mom and Dad has one:
Sporting a T-shirt with a picture of his dead son, the father of a local soldier killed in Iraq was one of the hundreds of people arrested in an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Al Zappala's son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, 30, of Plymouth, was killed in a explosion in Baghdad in April 2004. Baker was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 109th Field Artillery and was serving with the 103rd Armor Regiment.
"Nothing I can do can ever bring my son back, but his brothers and sisters are still there in an illegal and unjust war based on lies," Zappala said.
Baker's mother, Celeste Zappala said her message to the government is to "bring the troops home now and take care of them when they get here. Every day there's another family like us and that's what we're trying to stop."
Phillies are still alive
This is a picture of the Tugger I found at The Tug McGraw Foundation website. As Pope George Ringo keeps reminding us, You gotta believe!