Saturday, December 31, 2005

"It’s not a valid strategy, it's ridiculous," Rep. Tom Tigue, D-Hughestown

It maybe a ridiculous strategy but it's worth a try. The Times-Tribune has the story of the anti-pay raise group making some noise in northeastern Pennsylvania:

An anti-incumbent group hoping to recruit challengers to run against more than 200 state lawmakers next year has decided to debut a round of radio ads in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

PACleanSweep plans to run three, 30-second radio ads on Pittston Township-based WILK-AM starting Tuesday. The ads will air a total of 20 times over a weeklong run at a cost of $250, according to PACleanSweep founder Russ Diamond.

"We thought we'd start (the radio ads) in an area where we need to recruit more candidates," he said. "We have a few candidates in the region, but the number pales in comparison to other regions of the commonwealth."Mr. Diamond estimates his group has found candidates for "between 10 and 20 percent" of the legislative races in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. He would not identify specific seats where his group has fielded challengers, saying he did not want to give incumbents a sneak peek at potential opponents."Part of our strategy is to keep the incumbents in the dark for as long as possible," Mr. Diamond said. His group plans to formally announce its roster of candidates during a Capitol press conference during the week of Jan. 30.

Running radio ads to recruit candidates? Unfortunately around these parts if you get elected the first time you are probably there for life. I hate uncontested elections and if the pay raise issue inspires some people to run for office that's great.

Political ghost

Tom Pizano did such a bang up job as Luzerne County Commissioner that he didn't even try to get re-elected and returned to his farm to grow pumpkins and azaleas. But like a scene out of Night of the Living Dead he will again be haunting the halls of the courthouse. A press release from Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly said:

"Tom's knowledge and understand of county government, along with his ability to work well with others make him a fantastic choice for deputy."
After years of making sure the well connected were put on the payroll he gets his payback. First Frank Pizzella is hired by Judge Lokuta, now this. The good old boy network is alive and well in the courthouse. Bob Reilly is in the running to replace Kevin Blaum in the state house and I guess he thinks this will help him with the Democratic party establishment. That may be true but he just lost my vote.

Luzerne County gets a new Coroner

From the CV:

Gov. Ed Rendell has nominated Dr. Jack Consalvo, 59, of Wilkes-Barre, to fill the unexpired term of Dr. George E. Hudock Jr., who died Oct. 2 in the middle of his ninth term in office. Consalvo, a deputy coroner for about 10 years, heads the emergency room at the former Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre. Consalvo is not a pathologist and can't perform autopsies. But he believes he can serve the office well. He interned as a surgeon early in his medical career but has spent the majority of it specializing in emergency medicine and toxicology. He is board certified in forensic medicine and can testify in court as an expert witness on medical issues, as well as interpret medical records and offer expert opinions.

I don't know the man but his resume suggests that he is qualified for the job. Dr. Hudock will be a hard act to follow as anyone who knew him will attest. He was a pathologist who performed his own autopsies which saved the county an enormous amount of money over the years. There was a pathologist in the running for the job but she was registered in the wrong party. This is one job that should not have anything to do with politics but that's not the way the world works.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wilkes-Barre Township

The outstanding public officials in Wilkes-Barre Township can't even meet a deadline or get the paperwork in order.

A strip club is going to open down the street from the Arena, something the local fathers have opposed and vowed to stop. But they did not follow the law in their attempt to stop it as reported in the TL:

Commonwealth Court on Monday agreed with a Luzerne County judge, saying the township must allow the club to open because it failed to hold a hearing on owner Sal Scalzo’s zoning application.

The court battle hinged on a ruling by Judge Michael Conahan, who said township officials were obligated to issue permits for the club because Scalzo was not provided a zoning hearing within 60 days of his application. That meant the application was deemed approved by default.

The problem, Conahan said – and Commonwealth Court agreed – was that the township never notified Scalzo in writing that it felt the application was faulty.

But it may be a solution to the local unemployment problem if the CV is to believed:

A chance to make money by taking off their clothes and swinging around poles has enticed more than 800 women to seek employment at a planned Wilkes-Barre Township strip club, said owner Sal Scalzo.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Who's going to Harrisburg?

The race to succeed Kevin Blaum, D-Wilkes-Barre, as 121st Legislative District representative is on. Kevin has held this seat for the last 25 years and the next person might be there just as long. Unlike some of our local placeholders, George Hasay comes to mind, he actually did some good for the area. There's alot of speculation and feelers about who is going to run for this seat and this is what I've heard. Wilkes-Barre Attorney Bill Vinsko is the early favorite according to a few elected officials and committee people I have talked to . He has been a good party soldier and has some favors to call in. W-B city councilwomen Kathy Kane won the most votes in the last election and her husband Marty Kane is a fixture in local politics. Bob Reilly has been threatening to run for higher office for a long time. He was a city councilman and Democratic chairman when he got elected to the Clerk of Courts job. A few years back he was talking about taking on Kanjorski. The O'Conner clan has there golden boy in Neil O'Donnell and Marty Murry's grandson might be a candidate.

We have some good races in Luzerne County with 2 open seats. Haggerty is the favorite to win the state senate seat Charlie Lemmond has held for so long and the W-B represenative's spot is anyone's guess.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas

I'm note sure if this guy is a part of the War on Christmas or if he just wants to make sure he gets his presents. I wish everyone a joyous Holiday Season no matter what or how you celebrate.

Check out Miss Cellania for more holiday fun.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bush and Santorum poll numbers

The new Strategic Vision poll of likely voters in Pennsylvania indicates that the people of the Commonwealth are not happy with these two.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's overall job performance? Approve 38% Disapprove 55% Undecided 7%

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy? Approve 35% Disapprove 57% Undecided 8%

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq? Approve 41% Disapprove 50% Undecided 9%

On the 3 big questions of the day over half disapprove of Bush's job performance. But Santorum (R-VA) is still carrying water for him even when he does things that may not be legal like spy on people in the US without a warrant. From the Inquirer:

Santorum, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, had no qualms. "The senator recognizes that in times of war, the President has the constitutional oversight or the constitutional ability to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people," Santorum spokesman Robert L. Traynham said. "He fully supports the President's ability to protect American lives by going this step in terms of listening in on conversations." Traynham said Santorum was not among the congressional leaders who had been briefed on the surveillance program.

Santorum's numbers are also in the tank.

Do you approve or disapprove of United States Senator Rick Santorum's job performance? Approve 40% Disapprove 47% Undecided 13%

If the election for United States Senate were held today, and the choice was between Robert Casey, Jr., the Democrat and Rick Santorum, the Republican, whom would you vote for?
Robert Casey 50% Rick Santorum 39% Other 1% Undecided 10%

Now he is running away from his support of teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. The Inquirer documents his flip-flop:

In a 2002 Washington Times op-ed, Santorum wrote: "Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes." But in recent interviews, including one in August on National Public Radio, Santorum said: "I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom." Santorum said his statements are not contradictory, nor has his position changed.

Santorum raised the national profile of intelligent design in 2001 by introducing a "teach the controversy" amendment to the No Child Left Behind bill. The Santorum amendment was approved, 91-8, by the Senate and placed in a legislative history report. It validated the push by some school districts to teach alternatives to evolution. But science groups attacked the amendment and lobbied successfully to keep it out of the final version of the legislation.

Maybe Ricky is starting to realize that people are tired of having religion used to divide us and want our leaders to concentrate on what is important. He will now have to worry that Pat Robertson will put out a contract on him.

Barons heading to Allentown

According to the Philadelphia Daily News my baseball team is heading south:

The ride to the major leagues will soon get shorter for top Phillies farm hands. After next season, the Phillies are expected to end their affiliation with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after nearly 20 years and move into a new Triple A park that has been approved for construction in Allentown and is scheduled to be completed by 2007.

"Nothing is finalized, but after 2006, we probably won't end up with a working agreement with Scranton," said Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies' assistant general manager in charge of player development.

The stadium is assured of a replacement team, probably the Orioles AAA team now located in Ottawa, but if this is true it stinks. I wonder how much the political wrangling between the Lackawanna County Commissioners and the stadium authority has to do with this. I can't blame the Phillies management if they decided that these people are nuts and don't want to do business with them anymore. Commissioners Robert Cordaro and A.J. Munchak should be run out of town if they let this happen without a fight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The War on War

The War on War

We have many wars going on. The War in Iraq, the War on terrorism, the War on drugs, the War on poverty, the War on want, the War on Journalism, the War on Christmas, the War on spam, etc……………

How many wars can we fight at once? Maybe we should use a different word to define the challenges before us.

The Dover decision

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.-U.S. District Judge John E. Jones

Yahoo News: A federal judge dealt a major setback Tuesday to backers of the idea that some forms of life are so complex that they must be the product of an intelligent designer. Judge John Jones ruled that it is unconstitutional to teach the concept in public school science classes because it is :a religious view. The case, the first court test of intelligent design, or ID, was the latest in a series of challenges to evolution that go back to the 1925 Scopes trial, when a Tennessee high school science teacher was convicted of teaching Darwin's theory that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

Just because a judge ruled it is religion and not science will not deter some people. From the CV:

Northwest Area School District has no plans to add intelligent design to its science classes, after a federal ruling Tuesday banned the theory from biology classes in Dover, PA. School board member Randy Tomasacci, who has been advocating a discussion of intelligent design's place in the curriculum since February, said members of the board "came to an understanding" last month that intelligent design wasn't appropriate for a science curriculum.
Still, Tomasacci isn't entirely giving up on the theory, which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called "a mere re-labeling of creationism" in his decision. The board member has received support from district residents and he wants to encourage "a healthy exchange of ideas."Intelligent design might be destined for a Northwest social science course, or as a topic of discussion in current events. The board will discuss the theory"s future at a January curriculum board meeting to see "how to teach it where," Tomasacci said.

This guy wants to find a back door to teach religion in public schools and if he is successful the school district will surely end up in court

Tomasacci seemed glad another district had tested the issue in the courts. The Northwest board has no desire to get locked up in litigation, he said.

Maybe he should read the whole opinion. Especially this part:

The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Kevin Blaum

State Rep. Kevin Blaum, D-Wilkes-Barre, 121st Legislative District announced he will not seek a 14th term in Harrisburg. I speculated a few weeks back on who might run for state represenative when I heard a rumor that he may retire. He will always be remembered for his leadership to get the Arena built. I first met him when he was a young high school teacher that won a seat on the Wilkes-Barre City council at the ripe old age of 22. We both worked on the 1976 Jimmy Carter campaign and he later defeated a long time party hack for the state rep seat. I missed the race against Bernie O'Brien because I was off seeing the world in the Air Force but have always followed his carrer. Now we speculate on who will run for the seat but I'm going to hold off on that until I talk to a few people. Here are some highlights from his letter in the TL:

In May 1974, at the age of 22, I graduated from the University of Scranton with a bachelor of science degree in education and a burning desire to serve my community. By the end of the year I was announcing my candidacy for city council. There were 21 candidates in the 1975 primary to fill four seats on council. Unknown and fresh out of college, my chances of victory were further diminished when I drew the 21st spot on the ballot: dead last. I was so far down on the list of candidates, voters needed binoculars to find my name. Yet, when the numbers were tallied, in May and November, we received more votes than any other candidate. I had won my first two elections. Little did I know there would be 28 more elections to come. After serving five years on council, you elected me to the House of Representatives in 1980. I was 28 years old. Two years later I was married. Caroline was born in 1985, Elizabeth in ’88. This is the only life Beth and the girls have ever known. Indeed, it is their unwavering love and support that allowed me to do this wonderful job … and to build an arena. When my current term is complete on Nov. 30th of next year, I will be 54 years old and have served 13 terms or 26 exciting years in the House of Representatives.....

From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you for your trust, your kindness, endorsements and the extraordinary opportunity you gave me to serve. Each day I consciously worked to be the best representative any community ever had. However, I now write to tell you there is more I wish to do. First and foremost I do not want to miss any more field hockey games. I want to return to the field of education, I’d like to volunteer my time to organizations and projects that seek a better and brighter community for us all, and so much more. Therefore, I respectfully ask your blessing and support as I now seek a promotion from the humble status of public servant to the lofty position of private citizen. Toward that end, and for the first time in my adult life, I will not be a candidate for election to the House of Representatives in 2006. Beth and I reached this decision four years ago when I was quite ready to step out of the political arena at age 50.
But in early 2002, after long deliberation, I decided to remain in the House two additional terms because of several important pending community projects and the near certain election of a governor who might be persuaded to help fund them. While we look forward with great anticipation to our new private lives, be assured I am not going anywhere. The future of our region remains paramount in my mind.

Finally, there are 11 months remaining in this, my final term in the House of Representatives. I better get back to work. Thank you again for an extraordinary 31 years.
God bless you all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Klink 2

When Bob Casey was selected by the power brokers in Washington to run against Rick Santorum (R-VA) it was de ja vu all over again. In 2000 Ron Klink was the insiders choice to take on Ricky because of his stands on abortion and guns. Of course the abortion hotheads and gun nuts all backed Santorum anyway and Klink could not raise enough money from Democratic donors to be competitive. I find it insulting that the rest of the country thinks that all we have to do is nominate a Republican-lite candidate to have a chance. In 2000 the clear choice was Allyson Schwartz. She would have made her differences with Santorum clear instead of saying "me too" and would have excited the Democratic base. In the end Gore won the state and Klink lost by 5% after being outspent 7:1 (thanks LV). If we had a real Democrat that talked about important issues instead of the hot button nonsense things may have been different.

I have covered the other senate candidates and they are not afraid to spell out their positions. Almost a year out from the election the only people paying attention are political junkies but I am seeing a growing rebellion in the Netroots. This post on Lou's List got me thinking:

Chuck Pennacchio clearly believes that getting on the same stage with Casey is his chance to pick up significant support, and the poll results show he may be right. And that's only one issue. Casey is widely considered to be a weak debater and his mastery of many national issues is questioned. Santorum has also been chomping at the bit to debate Casey.

One thing that is certain is Casey will have no problem raising money. In fact he is getting money from the same people who back Santorum as Maria of 2 Poltical Junkies point out:

THERE'S STILL A PRIMARY ON MAY 16TH. There's a candidate out there who refuses to take money from any PAC. He's actually pro-choice in a BLUE STATE. And that matters because Casey is completely anti-choice. Perhaps that's why Casey's slipped 6 points in the polls. Despite his best efforts, the electorate is starting to learn what his views are and who backs him.

Furthermore a recent Quinnipiac Poll shows that:

When it is pointed out to pro-choice Casey voters that he and Santorum both oppose legalized abortion, 63 percent of the Democrat's supporters say they still will vote for him, while 22 percent say they will not vote in this race. Hear that Schumer, Reid and Hillary? Twenty-two percent will sit out the race because you all decided that it was good for the party to run an anti-choice candidate in a BLUE STATE. And that 22% means bye-bye to a Casey win.

Dragonballyee ( did I spell it right?) talks about how Casey is not in touch with the people who care and can help him:

I don't have a problem with Casey Jr. speaking at a law firm. But it seems that it's stops like this that are the only ones he's making and I think that's shitty. I haven't heard or read of a single account of him showing up at a grassroots event. A Meetup. A Drinking Liberally. A rally. There's nothing wrong with raising money. There is something wrong with not talking to the people.

I haven't seen Casey Jr. speak clearly on a lot of issues. Say the Iraq war. The slow-moving Casey campaign still hasn't reacted to Rep. Murtha's call for withdrawal. Chuck Pennacchio didn't see the Iraq war as the right move and has been calling for troop withdrawal for ages.
It annoys me that people agree with
Chuck Pennacchio's stance on the issues but give money to Casey Jr. It really annoys me that Rendell-Reid-Schumer made the PA Senate race what it now is.

Comments From Left Field has hope:

Currently Casey's biggest challenger, Chuck Pennacchio, recognizes this weakness as well and is stumping all over the state picking up supporters at a rapid pace. While his campaign is not highly financed, this should not be seen as a negative because he has refused to take corporate PAC money, something Casey certainly can not say. In an interview earlier this week with Family Life TV in Kittanning Pennacchio had this to say about the money issue;
"We turn that to our advantage by running against the money, I'm happy to be running without that albatross (of corporate donors)."

I will repeat what I have stated all along about this race, Pennsylvania Democrats deserve to make up their own minds about who is best suited to challenge Rick Santorum in a general election, not have it decided by power brokers in Washington. It is my opinion that Chuck Pennacchio is a people's candidate formed in the mold of Paul Wellstone and someone I would be proud to call Senator.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Haggerty has the bucks and Skrep opens a restaurant

"Trust me, this isn’t going to be a place to let people get drunk out of their mind." Greg Skrepenak Luzerne County commissioner

That makes me feel good. So his Dad has a place that will display all of his trophys called Big Ugly's on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard. From the TL:

The younger Skrepenak, a former NFL lineman and All-American football player at University of Michigan, said he told his father he won’t be able to work there during the day because he must focus on his commissioner duties. He does intend to be a regular at night, helping out and socializing.

It looks like he will not get into the race for the 20th senatorial district and hopefuly will give up being a county commissioner when his term expires. My advice is ride your fame and make your bucks. It looks like he may be taking that advice.

Kingston Mayor James Haggerty spent $90,000 to win a job that pays $8000 a year. He has $18,000 on hand but debts of over $29,000. I'm sure he can raise much more for this race and the TL gives a summary who he is indebted to already.

He will fit right in. Harrisburg has many politicians that owe their loyalty to the money that sent them there and send them back. More of the same.

Government pay raise

As a service to those who find this site by doing a search for "government pay raise" here is the scoop.

December 1, 2005

Bush approves 3.1 percent pay raise

President Bush has formally approved a 3.1 percent average pay raise for white-collar federal employees next year. The raise is included in the fiscal 2006 Transportation-Treasury appropriations measure (H.R. 3058), which Bush signed Wednesday.

The 3.1 percent increase provides pay parity between civilians and military service members. The Bush administration had proposed a 2.3 percent civilian increase, but as in previous years, the president ultimately accepted a larger raise backed by both the House and Senate.
Now President Bush must decide how the raise will be divided between an across-the-board increase and locality pay differentials. Earlier this year, the Federal Salary Council
recommended that 2.1 percent be allocated to across-the-board pay and 1 percent to locality raises. Historically, the president has followed the council's advice.

John Spencer

LOS ANGELES - John Spencer, who played a tough and dedicated politico on The West Wing who survived a serious illness to run for vice president, died of a heart attack Friday. He was 58. Spencer died after being admitted to a Los Angeles hospital during the night, said his publicist, Ron Hofmann. He would have been 59 on Tuesday.

Spencer played Leo McGarry, the savvy and powerful chief of staff to President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen). In a sad parallel to life, Spencer’s character suffered a heart attack that forced him to give up his White House job. McGarry recovered and was picked as a running mate for Democratic presidential contender Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits; the campaign against Republican Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) has been a central theme for the drama this season.

Many of us are big fans of the West Wing, including this guy. We are going to miss the Leo character and it will be interesting to see how they write this into the show.

Friday, December 16, 2005

More tax forgiveness

The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted to forgive more than $310,000 in school taxes on four blighted city properties. Newcomer Lynn Evans on Wednesday night was the lone dissenting vote. I knew there was a reason why she was the only one I voted for in the school board election.

The Times-Leader has had a series of articles examining the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program that confirms what many of has suspected, it hasn't worked. I did some math using the TL numbers for Wilkes-Barre. I may be wrong but I come up with $3.7 million in tax breaks since 1999 that has produced a net 640 jobs.

These items caught my attention:

Half of the KOZ properties in the city are owned by the city itself or government-related agencies. Many are dilapidated or abandoned properties that haven't attracted investors, even with their tax-free status. Others such as City Hall, Public Square Park and police headquarters make little sense as targets for developers.

Thirteen property owners who were granted KOZ status, and have enjoyed about $37,000 in relief from municipal property taxes, have reported no new investment or jobs since joining the program, according to applications filed with the state.

Tax reasons may help when a business is opened but is not the only one. The KOZ program is not the answer.

The report in the CV had this: Leighton said his desk is stacked with developers willing to revitalize the former Old River Road Bakery, Radnor Building on South Washington Street, Academy Street Market and First National Bank building on Public Square. Outstanding taxes are the only obstacle, he said.

"Everything in the city is tax exempt and none of the places are filled," Evans said following the meeting. ""Bring us the people who are interested. He said he has a stack of people interested. Where are they?" asked Evans.

A resonable request. If there are companies interested in developing these properties and want a tax break to do it they can at least tell the taxpayers want they have in mind.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Progress in Wilkes-Barre

I just heard on channel 16 that the new state office building is now open where the hole used to be. It's relocating over 200 jobs to downtown
W-B. The theater project is behind schedule but will be completed soon. The new firehouse in North End (left) is coming along. Thanks to Markie for the pic. And Coal Street Park is getting a makeover. I know all these government sponsored projects are important but the most promising thing to me is the opening of the new Schiel's Supermarket in Parsons.

A new business in the city done without tax breaks or government funding is the best news the city can get. How many properties have been given a tax break to the well connected owners that never produced a job? This is the first major business to open in the city in a long time. The place is great, brand new building, wide aisles, lots of parking and all the latest gizmos at the check-out. They opened their first store in the old Giant store on Hanover Street and created over 100 jobs. There were tax incentives that lured them to that location and it has been a hit but it was not the most important reason. Mayor Tom Leighton is trying to get everyone to buy into his "I believe" campaign and he may even get an old cynic like me to buy into it if we see more success like this.

Politics and sports don't mix

I hope the people who made this decision remember Dubya is a big baseball fan.

Daily News Wire Services

Cuba won't be allowed to send a team to next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic, the U.S. government told event organizers yesterday.

The decision by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control was conveyed to Major League Baseball yesterday, according to Pat Courtney, a spokesman for the commissioner's office. A permit from OFAC is necessary because of U.S. laws governing certain commercial transactions with Fidel Castro's communist island nation.

Paul Archey, the senior vice president of Major League Baseball International, and Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association, issued a joint statement saying the organizers would try to have the decision reversed. The commissioner's office and the union have jointly organized the 16-team tournament, which runs from March 3-20 in the United States, Puerto Rico and Japan.

"We are very disappointed with the government's decision to deny the participation of a team from Cuba in the World Baseball Classic," Archey and Orza said. "We will continue to work within appropriate channels in an attempt to address the government"s concerns and will not announce a replacement unless and until that effort fails."

If only Castro had signed with the Yankees.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Mayor demurs

From the Times-Tribune:

If Mayor Chris Doherty is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor next year, it’s news to him.

Posts on a message board on the political Web site, speculated last week about the mayor running for the seat currently held by Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll. "No truth at all," Mr. Doherty said. "I just got re-elected. " Gov. Ed Rendell, who is up for re-election next year, is an ally of the mayor. However, Mr. Doherty said the governor hasn't asked him to run and he would say no if asked.

This guy raised almost a million dollars to get re-elected the mayor of a small city so I think he can raise enough money($5mil) to make a statewide bid. It stinks that you measure the viability of a candidate by the amount of money they can attract but that is the way of the world of politics. If Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll decides to bow out, and there is pressure on her to do that, he would be an attractive replacement. For all the ins and outs, and this and thats, and ticket balancing, no one votes for Lieutenant Governor or Vice-President. But they may get the top job. Just don't hurt the ticket.

LVDem calls it:

We're making waves here folks! That's a great mention. Follow my logic. Somebody close to Doherty plants the news here. The print folks pick it up. Doherty initially says he hasn't thought about the matter. His people float it again. Print folks pick it up again but this time Doherty says he is considering it as people from around the state are starting to approach him for a run. Two weeks later, Doherty makes a formal statement about whether or not he is running.

The Mayor and higher office

To everyone's surprise (not) Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty has entered the race to succeed retiring state Sen. Charles Lemmond. It's funny that there were no stories about his official announcement in the local rags today, yesterday both papers had pre-announcement stories. The CV story wasn't on the website but was in the print version and the TL write up was available in both. The Times-Leader had this write-up:

Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty will throw his hat in the ring in the competitive Republican race for retiring state Sen. Charles Lemmond's seat. Haggerty plans to announce his candidacy tomorrow at his Kingston law office.

"Obviously, we'll get into greater detail on Wednesday," Haggerty said Monday night.
"What I can say now is since Sen. Lemmond's announcement, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for me to run for this office because of the tremendous record of success in Kingston under my leadership," he said. "After looking at the district and the race, we"re convinced it"s a campaign we can and will win."

Don't you just love politicians who talk about themselves in the third person? We are not amused.

The Citizens Voice (not on web) points out he spent big bucks for TV ads in his re-election bid for Mayor of Kingston against token opposition. And he admits it helped gain name recognition in the six counties that make up the 20th senatorial district.

Four other Republicans have announced their intentions to run for the seat: Russell Bigus, Dallas Township, Lisa Baker of Lehman Township; Ronald Chvotzkin, Jackson Township home; and Dallas resident David Madeira.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bush dragging down Santorum

Quinnipiac poll finds Bush support hurts Santorum

In the 2006 race for U.S. Senate, Democratic State Treasurer Robert Casey holds a 50-38 percent lead over Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. This compares to a 52-34 percent Casey lead in an October 6 Quinnipiac University poll. Pennsylvania voters disapprove 59-38 percent of the job President George W. Bush is doing. And by a 60-27 percent margin, voters say Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for reelection. Even 36 percent of Republicans say supporting Bush hurts Santorum. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing? Right thing 40%- Wrong thing 55 %.

It seems all those warm fuzzy ads financed by Americans for Job Security haven't helped much. In fact they may have backfired by making an issue out of who this group is bankrolled by. From the CV:

A trade association that bought advertising touting Sen. Rick Santorum's Social Security bill violated federal election law by failing to register as a political committee and disclose its donors, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.'s Senate campaign charged Wednesday.

The Casey campaign claimed in a federal complaint that Americans for Job Security is also illegally advocating Mr. Santorum's re-election. The campaign wants the Federal Election Commission to investigate the group's purchase of more than $875,000 in commercials in five television markets across the state, including the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, to halt further advertising and to fine the group twice that amount."If they were proud of their donors, they should tell everyone where they're getting their money," said Larry Smar, the communications and policy director for the Casey campaign.

Federal election law requires political action committees to disclose donors and contributions, but the trade association asserts it does not fall into that category. Dubke said the association stopped disclosing donors years ago because opposing politicians and reporters asked about donors instead of issues the group talked about in its ads. He denied the ads advocate the senator's re-election.

If the ads don't advocate Ricky's re-election then why do they end by asking you to call his office and tell him what a good job he is doing? What I have been reading is that this group is financed by drug and insurance companies and is based in Santorum's place of residence, Virginia.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bush is conflicted

Sometimes people like me in Northeastern PA don't know what to make of Bush. We get stories like this one from Capitol Hill Blue:

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. "I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way." Mr. President, one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

Then the Newsweek article about the the boy in the bubble that Simply Left Behind broke down. Why won't he talk to Jack Murtha, a guy who wants to talk to him?

Jack Murtha still can't figure out why the father and son treated him so differently. Every week or so before the '91 gulf war, President George H.W. Bush would invite Congressman Murtha, along with other Hill leaders, to the White House. "He would listen to all the bitching from everybody, Republicans and Democrats, and then he would do what he thought was right." A decorated Vietnam veteran, ex-Marine Murtha was a critical supporter for the elder Bush on Capitol Hill. "I led the fight for the '91 war," he says. "I led the fight, for Christ's sake."

Then he finally talks about the human toll of this conflict:

"I would say 30,000 more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," the president said. " We"ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq."

And tens of thousands maimed for life. There are many plans out there to get our people out. The US can't occupy a country forever.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Pennsylvania Society meets in New York

The annual get together of the political class of PA and the money class of the USA happened over the weekend. The highlight was a black tie dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria sponsored by Mellon Bank. They attended this one after going to other events sponsored by Waste Management, Triad Strategies, PNC Financial Services, the Pa Manufacturer's Association (who's past President Jim Panyard wasn't invited), Greenlee Partners and Sunoco. You get the idea. This is bi-partisan gathering of pigs at the trough and there were plenty of fundraisers to go to. See PoliticsPA for the entire schedule. The only objection I have read is that it is not in PA as reported by the Inquirer:

In Philadelphia, City Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to bring the affair within the state's borders. The vote took place during the same week that Leonard N. Ross, a friend of Mayor Street's, became the 18th person charged in the ongoing City Hall corruption investigation. "Look, I'm not trying to mess up anyone's vacation here," said Councilman Frank DiCicco, who sponsored the resolution and has never gone to the affair. "It's just business."

Maybe I watch too many Godfather movies but I love it when someone says "It's just Business."
The whole things stinks to rest of us.

With all the recent talk about ethical lapses in the Capitol corridors and Philadelphia City Hall, the drive for cleaner government has not reached New York. During this three-day-weekend affair, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will be feted twice; the state auditor general, the state House majority leader, and the Allegheny County executive will throw their own soirees; and legions of other public officials will be courted by special-interest groups.

There was an alternative for the rest of us:

Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp - who helped lead the successful grassroots movement to repeal the pay raise lawmakers gave themselves in July - planned to counter the high-end partying in New York with a bare-bones bash yesterday in the Capitol.

"Please bring a potluck item," Stilp wrote on the invitation. In an interview, he said, "Working-class Pennsylvanians can't even relate to the Pennsylvania Society dinner. We want to start a new tradition for the average person: the Pennsylvania People's Dinner." Stilp, meanwhile, said he'd planned to bring his inflatable ''pay raise pig'' to Manhattan, but thought better of it. "If we want to make changes," he said, "'the place to be is the Capitol.'"

Then these guys wonder why they think they are out of touch:

Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer (R., Blair) defended the weekend: "This is not class warfare - just an opportunity to let your hair down a bit."

One weekend attendee, Ken Davis, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, was shopping around his candidate for lieutenant governor, Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews. 'I don't know anyone who's been bought at Pennsylvania Society,' David Said. 'Rented maybe -- but not bought."

Chris Doherty for Lt. Governor?

If any of the rumors that are flying around are true we may be seeing more of these two together. LVDem ran this by me on Friday:

Doherty approached to run against CBK in primary for Lieutenant Governor

"Sources close to Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty say that aides to Governor Ed Rendell have approached him about running for Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Supposedly, Rendell wants Doherty but (obviously) needs to keep a distance."

Then I spotted this letter in the CV today:

I have heard some rumblings among my friends and associates in the progressive community about Mayor Chris Doherty from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Mayor Doherty is the 47-year-old mayor of Scranton, fresh off a big second-term election victory. Mayor Doherty seems to possess a genuine passion for public service. Over the past four years, he has done wonderful things for Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I, for one, am confident that a young and energetic leader like Mayor Doherty would be a perfect addition to the Lieutenant Governor's race. Here's to a "draft Doherty" movement that will excite progressive voters across the state who are looking for a new generation of leadership in our Commonwealth.

Wishful thinking or an organized campaign? The Democratic field may become as crowded the Republican side if this is true. Valerie McDonald Roberts, Allegheny County's recorder of deeds, has announced her candidacy to replace to Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, a fellow Democrat also from Allegheny County. And there is talk of Barbara Hafer or Joe Hoeffel may get into this. I think Hafer has denied any interest but Hoeffel told the Daily News:

"I'm thinking about it, which is about all I can say," said Hoeffel from his Philadelphia law office. "I'm talking to some friends and thinking about the possibilities."

Maybe all this speculation is a way to get Knoll to step aside because I can't imagine that any serious Democrat would enter this race without Rendell's blessing. Many view her as a possible liability for the ticket because of her well publicized problems with funerals, parrots and knowing the Governor's name.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


There is a big dustup going on about voting machines and IDs in Pennsylvania. A bill passed the House of Representatives in Harrisburg that would require people to show photo identification before voting and would put tighter restrictions on where voting places can be located. It also would take away the right to vote from people convicted of a felony who are out of prison but on probation or parole. Sounds reasonable until you start to think about it. About half the people eligible vote in a presidential election and in off year elections the numbers are even smaller. Why put up more barriers to voting?I have heard the stories about drinks for votes, cash payments and multiple ballots being cast but I have never seen it. The people who bother to vote should not be hassled. The few criminals who have served their time and want to register to vote should be encouraged as it indicates a desire to be a part of society and keep their nose clean.

More worrying is the mandate to use computerized voting machines. These things make me nervous as anyone who uses a computer knows how vulnerable they are. Sometimes I think our society is technology drunk when we should look at making things simpler. Let's go back to paper ballots for elections. To make the switch our Commissioners will have to borrow yet more money. The problem is not with who votes but with the counting of votes.

Ad space in Luzerne County

Are you ready for the Viagra Courthouse Tower or the Depends Public Restroom. Instead of Moon Lake Park lets call it the Exxon Valdez Wildlife Sanctuary. Why stop with buildings why not rename the river the Pennsylvania American Waterway and I'm sure many roads and streets can be auctioned off to lawfirms that make their money by chasing ambulances after auto accidents. We have many culm banks that can use a better name than big ugly black things. How about tattooing on Skrep's forehead. I think most politicians should be sponsored by e-bay because they go to the highest bidder.

From the TL:

Luzerne County commissioners want to cover some of the projected $9.4 million deficit for 2006 by selling ad space, billboards and naming rights on county property. Recreation is one area where naming rights and advertising can be fruitful and well-received by the public, said Mike Nadol of Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management, which helped the county come up with the idea. Companies might relish the chance to name stretches of the Wyoming Valley Levee Trail or place ads at the riverfront amphitheater and marina to be built along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre. Billboards or signs on high-traffic county-owned property might bring in some bucks too, Vonderheid said. On a smaller scale, ads could be put on kiosks or benches in and around county buildings.

We live in a time when somebody is always trying to sell you something. I know the county, like many local governments, is strapped for cash but enough already. Do you really want more billboards? And ads in parks? I go to a park to get away from TV, radio and advertising. I provided a few ideas on naming rights, does anyone have more?

Friday, December 09, 2005


After checking out the internets today I'm happy to report that all the bloggers who braved the elements are all safe and sound. After a quick trip around Wilkes-Barre to gather supplies (beer, steaks and lottery tickets) it appears that life will go on. After all the bars and Turkey Hill are open. My own snow experience was more frustration because my rebuilt snowblower didn't do as good a job as my unrebuilt snowblower because the new skids are set too high and I had to do a lot of shovel scraping. But now the fun part of the day as I have fired up the grill to cook a couple of Delmonicos as recommended by PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals).

A glance of what others are doing today.:

LVDem has declared a snow news day.

Another Monkey made it to work safe and sound.

dragonballyee had a mishap but lived to tell about it.

Above Average Jane is spending her day with her crab and other critters.

Fester is enjoying a muffin.

Ol' Froth has the same opinion of local news that I do.

And PSoTD has a great recipe for a snowball.

Someone stole a 400 pound spacecraft

From the TL:

"I looked and thought,'Wow, where's my space shuttle?"

For 20 years Bielecki has owned the North End scrap yard, and during that time he’s created a hidden museum of strange and historic rubbish, including three caskets, brass beds, funeral home candleholders, parking meters, runner sleds, spittoons and a moonshine still from an old house in Ashley.

When a large aluminum mock spaceship came through his scrap yard three years ago, Bielecki said he had found something special. He doesn’t know who it belonged to or why someone decided to get rid of it, but he knew he had to make it a part of his ever-growing collection of unwanted things. He and his staff cleaned the spaceship with mops and emblazoned the craft with big black decals that read "#1 USA." Bielecki wired the scrapped craft to several heavy pallets and placed it on the roof just above where an American flag still hangs. Now he's sad to see it gone.

About two months ago, in the early-morning hours, Bielecki was roused from his sleep by a call from Wilkes-Barre police. "They said, 'Bielecki, your space shuttle’s out on Penn Avenue," he said. Officers rolled the round seven-foot-tall piece of metal onto the sidewalk. Busy days continued to push back the relaunch to the roof. It sat out of public view behind the building for about two months, until Monday when Bielecki noticed it was gone.

This will rank right up there with the missing Big Boy that was eventually found in a college student's apartment. I'm sure the police have other things to keep them busy rather than looking for a tall piece of junk. Maybe Bill Fitz can ask around campus and solve this mystery.

Update: The Enterprise was located in Mineral Springs and has been returned to the top of the heap at Bielecki's junkyard. "I don’t know if he flew it there, or what, and crash landed," a jovial Bielecki said. The police say they have a suspect but if you read the comments we already have a confession.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I'm still being frustrated by my attempts to get my blogroll back. I have done everything Blogger, Blogroll and others have advised but it still doesn't work. Until I get some geek to check-out my template and fix it I have decided to do a real time blogroll.

We bloggers are a mixed bunch, writing about everything from the news of the day to what is happening in our lives or our favorite bands and movies. Most blogs have a mix of topics like mine. I try to stick to local politics but wander off to national issues occasionally. I throw in my observations of the sports world and sometimes something personal. The traffic on this site has grown from my immediate circle of friends and family to several hundred hits a day. I want to thank everyone for stopping by. I want to give a special Thank You to the people who taken the time to leave a comment. Agree or disagree, the important thing is the debate and sometimes they have been very heated, which is great.

We have a small group of local bloggers who deal with issues of the day. I'm sure our numbers will grow.

Off to the roundup:

Wilkes-Barre Online is making predictions about the mid-term elections.

My Take is busy with the controversy over Willow Grove and bashing Planned Parenthood. It's good to see him post on his flagship as he has about 12 other websites.

hints, allegations and things left unsaid hasn't updated for a while but if we nudge him I hope he will get back in the game.

Another Monkey came up with an idea to have some fun with word verification.

It stinks that we even have to put another step in the comment process but the spammers are relentless. Do these stupid bastards really think that they are going to sell you something when they do something so rude and piss you off?

Beale's Bites covers the local news.

I'm sure the local news will try to convince us all that we will die because it might snow tonight. I can hear it now. Take cover, adjourn Congress, break out the food you were saving for the nuclear war!

The American Check-Up is busy defending Bush as usual. I'm sure he would blame the bubonic plague on liberals.

PA judges

With the defeat of state Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro fresh in their minds the legislature is considering changing the way statewide judges are selected. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The next chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Alan M. Feldman, says a priority for his one-year term will be to change the way judges are selected in Pennsylvania.
Feldman, who will formally outline his agenda today at the bar's annual meeting, said the ouster by voters of state Supreme Court Justice Russell M. Nigro on last month's statewide election ballot should serve as a "wake-up call" to spur adoption of so-called merit selection for judges. Feldman is scheduled to take office in January.

One merit-selection alternative proposed by State Sens. Vincent Fumo and Anthony Williams, both Philadelphia Democrats, calls for judicial appointments by the governor, on the recommendation of a 19-member panel, with confirmation by two-thirds of the state Senate.

"It's absolutely essential that we do this" to take the choosing of judges out of the election system and its dependence on campaign money, ward politics and ballot positions, Feldman said.

As I pointed out before most people don't know who they are voting for since it comes down to whoever can raise enough money to buy TV time to get their name recognized. They are not allowed to state a position on any issue so we get a recitation of their resume. The sources of the of the money they needed to finance a statewide campaign casts doubts about their integrity. When you take money from people and groups like labor unions, business associations, political parties and even the lawyers that will appear in front of you there will always be a suspicion that the fix is in.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Howard Stern and Bill O'Reilly

Media Whore alert

I just saw a promo on Fox News that said Howard Stern will be on the O'Reilly Factor tonight. Well they both like big busted women, talking dirty and sex toys. I think this just might be the first of many joint appearances since they have many things in common.

Colin Powell

I went to the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre last night to hear General Colin Powell talk about leadership. The former Secretary of State was one of the most impressive public speakers I have ever seen. He talked for over an hour without notes and connected with the audience with his humor and knowledge. I'm not going to recap everything he said but the thing that stuck with me is he said don't let the terrorist change who we are. We are the most open, free and generous people in history. And when mistakes are made, like the Patriot Act or using torture, we have the means to fix them. He also recommended using diplomacy to solve the nuclear threats of North Korea and Iran. And he said the Iraq deployment can't go on forever. Overall he was optimistic about our place in the world. I'm sure whoever wins the Republican nomination in 2008 will ask the General to be his/her running mate. Imagine a McCain/Powell ticket?

The CV and the TL have a recap.

West Wing live debate transcript

Thanks to the commenter who pointed me to this link to the debate transcript. The highlight was when Senator Vinick kept using the word liberal as a pejorative term and Santos shot back:

Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things – every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

Carl liked it so much he put it on the header of Simply Left Behind. The West Wing website poll has Santos winning the debate. It's a shame that no real politician has ever made that defense.

In related TV news WVIA is showing one of my favorite British political satires, Yes Minister on Wednesday at 5:30PM.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Lions in Winter

Enough of politics and other minor matters the big news is Penn State is going to the Orange Bowl. After a few down seasons PSU came roaring back this year to go 10-1. They started shaky and had thrilling wins at Northwestern and against Ohio State at home. The only blemish was a last second (if there was a second left) loss in the big house. They blew away the rest of the schedule with the defense leading the way and the offense doing it's part unlike last year. Remember the Iowa game? How do you lose a football game 6-4? But all is forgotten and the focus is on the 2 coaches who have won more games than any others. As usual Joe Pa plays down the hype:

"I think we just ought to forget about the Bobby Bowden-Joe Paterno relationship," Paterno said. "I think we ought to be looking at two good football teams that are going to go down there and have a chance to knock each other's brains out."

Yeah right. In college football it's all about school loyalty, where you live and especially the coaches. The players come and go but until recently the Head Coaches were the one thing that stayed the same. In Happy Valley and Tallahassee you know who the coach is going to be next year. They both have over 300 wins and have faced each other seven times with Paterno winning six of the meetings. The class acts that they are you will hear each of them praise the other team over the next few weeks and discount the chances of their own squads. Expect a good one.

As far as that other game goes I think we are in for a good one but Texas just has too much for USC.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I have taking some heat because I think John Murtha is right. Get out of Iraq as soon as we can. The locals don't want us there and I can't blame them. How would you feel if foreign troops marched up and down of Main Street USA.

Declare victory! Saddam is gone, there is no WMD and if they want a democracy let them build it. But the usual nonsense has got in the way. Instead of answering the criticism the response has been to attack the messenger. Maybe Murtha doesn't have the solution, I doubt if anyone does.

When this man is called a traitor by some jerk who avoided Vietnam because he had a cyst on his fat ass it makes my blood boil.

Some say Murtha is misguided, but everything I have read about the man suggest he knows more about what is going on in the military than any other member of the legislature.

From T-Blog:

Congressman Murtha is so well-respected for his first-hand knowledge of military and defense issues that he has been a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties on military and defense issues and is one of the most effective advocates for the national defense in the country.

Known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict.

Several times a year, Murtha travels to Iraq to assess the war on the ground and he often visits wounded troops in hospitals at home. And he sometimes just calls up generals to get firsthand accounts.

There is much more about John Murtha I can tell you but if you are paying attention you already know. When a tough old bird like Murtha tells you are in a hopeless situation maybe you should pay attention.

The Blogfather

Oops wrong picture.

Mark of Wilkes-Barre Online and I have been having some fun lately. We watched football and drank beer and solved most of the world's problems. If people would just listen to us and General Zod this would be a happier planet. He listens to local talk radio but I don't because I have to work when it is on.

We agree on many things on the local scene but few on the national stage. But we are always civil, as Barry Goldwater said "To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."

Recently the morning hosts of WILK have starting badmouthing us bloggers. Well, probably just Mark as I'm sure they don't know who I am and I think we are the only one's who cover local events. They have a microphone, we have a keyboard, they have a big audience and ours is not so big. Why are they threatened by blogs? Maybe because someone was the only girl not asked to the prom? Or the young tennis star had too many zits to be taken seriously. Those last 2 statements illustrates what weak arguments they are using against us. If you want to debate issues I'm game. But don't use the unsubstantiated smears that are to common in the world of talk radio. Nancy, Kev, email me, I would be happy to discuss the issues of the day without name calling. But that would be no fun.

It snowed today

Yes it snowed today and people had to shovel the stuff. I'm sure it will be the lead story on what passes as the 6 o'clock news in Northeast PA. At least it's the weekend and the local TV stations didn't subject us to endless updates, school closings and predictions of endless doom. The supply of milk, bread and toilet paper must be secure as no bulletins interrupting the NFL games have told us otherwise. Why people get so bent out of shape every winter when the flakes hit the ground is beyond me. My biggest disappointment is that there was not enough to use my favorite (only)winter toy, my snowblower. Although the snowfall is light I will continue a tradition of the Gort household and fire up the BBQ grill in celebration of the first appearance of wintry precipitation. The ritual also includes throwing snowballs at the dog and trying to get the cat to go outside with the resulting wounds being inflicted. This will probably be the first of many snows to come if you can believe the experts that are predicting a severe winter. Of course these so called experts can't tell you what is going to happen Thursday let alone what the weather will be like a month or two from now.

The other Senate candidates

It is conventional wisdom that the 2006 Senate race will be a contest between State Treasurer Bob Casey (D) and incumbent Rick Santorum (R-VA). But first we will have a primary to select the party nominees. Almost no one has noticed but Ricky has an opponent on the Republican side. Philadelphia real estate broker and privacy advocate John Featherman (left) is running because "government should get out of our bedrooms and pocketbooks." He is a former Libertarian Party candidate who attracted the usual few thousand protest votes when he ran in 2000. He said that Santorum's book It Takes a Family was the final push to get him into the race. He said that Santorum has betrayed the principle of limited government. "He thinks he's invincible."

On the Democratic side Casey has to get past 2 challengers, history professor Chuck Pennacchio and lawyer Alan M. Sandals, both from Philadelphia. Mr. Pennacchio has a nice profile in the Times-Tribune today:

Chuck Pennacchio is openly against the war in Iraq and never would have authorized the president to invade.

He's for a woman’s right to choose an abortion and universal health care. He's also for allowing civil unions between gay couples, but against a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman and the federal law that restricts gay marriage. Which, he thinks, makes him a better choice than state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. to be the Democratic Party nominee against Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum in the 2006 Senate election. On each issue, he believes, a majority of Pennsylvanians feel as he does.

He makes a very good point about the state of the Democratic Party:

"My purpose in running is to have a debate about the future of the Democratic Party, the future of our country, the future of our constitution and the nation's place in global politics. Democrats have muddled the message nationwide. The Republican Party has been hijacked by right-wing religious follows, Fortune 500 business groups and neo-conservatives. The Democratic Party has been hijacked by inside-the-Beltway consultants. The consultants are paid win or lose, but they tell all the Democratic candidates, Don’t say anything, It’s a losing formula. Their formula for running away from issues, running away from messages is disastrous. One thing about Santorum, one thing I give him is he’s a person of conviction. The only way to beat him is to match him conviction for conviction and Bob Casey has no convictions as far as I can tell. The only way to win is to get convictions on the table and have a real debate."

Alan Sandals also makes the point that you can't win elections by being republican-lite:

I’m a real Democrat.....Even people who are relatively well off are concerned about the future that these bad policies in Washington are creating for our children and grandchildren. Already Americans are slipping behind other countries in education, leaving our children unprepared for a global economy that keeps growing more competitive. With reduced funding, will local schools be able to keep pace with the future workplace? Will there be enough jobs in our country? Will they pay enough for workers to buy homes and raise families?
Our aging population works hard all their lives, playing by the rules, only to find their financial security gone when another round of corporate mergers leaves them with empty promises and empty retirement accounts instead of the lifelong pensions and health care they earned.
Some politicians want you to believe that looking out for your security isn't the job of government. If a person falls into financial trouble even though he or she works hard, well, it’s tough luck, they say.

I don’t believe that, and neither do you.

At first glance any one of these three guys sound better than the choice we will probably have.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Skrep mulling replacing Lemmond

Give me a break. He has been a Luzerne County Commissioner for 2 years who billed himself as a fresh start but has continued business as usual. I'm not impressed with his performance so far and now he is thinking of running for state senator or is it another tease like when he was going to run for Congress. Dr. Rick at the American Check-up did some amateur psychoanalysis about that idea that still applies. A short list of criticisms of his tenure starts with his hiring of his gym buddy Sam Hyder then giving him a nice raise. And Hyder wasn't the only well connected person to get a job. He has never met a consultant he wouldn't pay to study every problem facing the county. Luzerne County can't meet it's payroll without borrowing money every year. He votes to lay off a bunch of people then gives a golden parachute to the one's that are left financed by another bond. I could go on and on. I would like to see a serious Democrat run for this seat, he is not it. Time for Bill Fitz to re-start his Stop Skrep site.

Iraq debate goes local

As I pointed out before John Murtha has changed the debate about the war from if the US should get out but to when and how. Recently the Secretary of State and Mr. Bush himself have addressed the subject. He said we will stay there until we achieve victory but has not been able to define what that means.

Now the local media is finally paying attention to the question that is sure to dominate the 2006 congressional elections. From the TL:

Sherwood, Carney clash on war Tenth District congressman urges caution; challenger calls for quicker action.

During his address at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland, Bush said that in addition to 80 Iraqi police and army battalions assisting American forces, there are 40 battalions operating with little coalition support. Following President Bush's speech, Chris Carney, a Democrat running for Don Sherwood’s 10th Congressional District seat, called for 40 American battalions to be brought home from Iraq. "I'm concerned that it's taken almost two and a half years for the president to tell the country how he plans to win in Iraq," Carney said.
The speech, he said, offered no new information and the strategic document didn't satisfy his questions about the president's plan to battle the insurgency in Iraq.

"Are we going to be there 10 years or are we going to be there two years?" Carney asked.

Don Sherwood, a Republican from Tunkhannock, echoed Bush's rejection of "artificial timetables" from politicians. "My congressional district has been hit hard, and I would love to get our people out of Iraq immediately, but we need to get the out there when the mission is accomplished," Sherwood said. "When we have a stable peaceful Iraq we can bring all our people home or some of our people home."

What does "bring some of our people home" mean? Is the US planning a permanent military presence? History has shown that you can't occupy a country forever when the locals don't want you there.

Also the attacks on John Murtha continue even after Jean Schmidt was roundly criticized for calling him a "coward." The right wing blogs are still going after him personally instead of dealing with the substance of his argument. But that is par for the course in this poisoned atmosphere that people like Rush Windbag helps perpetuate. It's not just the right wing radio blowhards that are to blame as there are plenty of people on the left that are over the top. Speaking of Rush, I was listening to him yesterday when he called Murtha a traitor. Sometimes I don't think he even believes some of what he says but it's good for ratings. Contrast all this rhetoric with what Chris Carney said to the Boston Globe:

"Both parties have pursued policies of division, and there is this gaping whole in the middle where I think most Americans reside," said Carney, who until recently served as an adviser to the deputy defense secretary's office, and who now is vying to unseat four-term Republican Don Sherwood.

"Those people need to be represented," he said. '"I don't know how we go from a country as united as it was on Sept. 12, 2001, to one as divided as we are today. That is what is propelling me in this race."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Go out swinging

Steve Flood has about a month left as the Controller of Luzerne County but he is not laying down on the job. He is one of the most impressive public officials I have ever met. The man wants good government and so do I. Enough of the bullshit, jobs filled by less than qualified applicants because they have a connection and big raises given out even as the county has to borrow money just to meet payroll!

After holding their feet to fire about the pension fund and invented jobs (remember Cliff Madrack and Moon Lake) he is looking at the 20 year deal between the Commissioners and some outfit that is running the juvie jail in Pittston. From the TL:

WILKES-BARRE . Luzerne County Controller Steve Flood continued to ratchet up his complaints about a $58-million deal brokered between the county and a privately owned juvenile detention center at a meeting Thursday. Flood also said he plans to send a bill to Pennsylvania Child Care for overcharging the county. If they don't pay, the controller said he'll attempt to sue. A solicitor for the controller also had some harsh words for county officials, calling them a "cancer" that affects the political system. In addition to the letter, Flood accused PA Child Care of overcharging the county nearly $280,000 for housing children in the Pittston Township facility. Flood said he expects to send a bill to the company today requesting a reimbursement to the county or else he'll sue in five days.
Flood's solicitor, Sam Stretton, said the suit would be mostly a symbolic gesture since Flood has less than a month left in his term. In January, former Butler Township manager Maryanne Petrilla takes over Flood's position. She defeated Flood in the May primary.

Skrep and Vondy can't wait until this guy is out of their hair and the chosen one takes over.