Monday, February 27, 2006

Sherwood has his marching orders; Carney says stop it

Ports divide Sherwood, Carney:

As U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock, called for patience and review in approving a deal that would allow an Arab-owned company to manage six American seaports, his Democratic opponent, Chris Carney, said it would take the United Arab Emirates years to build up enough trust for such a contract.

Sherwood thinks it's a good idea because the White House told him it is. Carney thinks it's a bad idea because common sense tells you it's not.


"This is an example of a pre-9/11 mentality towards national security," said Chris Carney, who is running against Sherwood for U.S. Congress. "This is not a deal that needs to be 'tweaked.' It's a deal that needs to be stopped," said Carney. "The UAE has been the crossroads of international terrorists and the state-sponsors of terrorism for 20 years. Two of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE; the UAE made it hard to go after terrorist money after 9/11; and the UAE was one of three nations that recognized the Taliban in Afghanistan."

Not to mention it was a trans-shipment point for nuclear technology coming out of Pakistan, doesn't recognize Israel and almost never votes with us in the UN.

"We also have to remember that this is not just a corporate merger, the UAE owns and operates the company that is slated to take over our ports," said Carney. "What’s next? Handing over JFK Airport in New York to Iran? Handing over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to North Korea? After 9/11 we cannot afford to play nice with terrorists."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I have never been to Wisconsin

But I can't explain the hangover.

WEST BEND, Wis. (AP)- Authorities are hoping to break up what must be quite the party after beer thieves made off with almost $26,000 worth of suds from a delivery truck.
A semi trailer loaded with cans and bottles of Miller beer was stolen from a trucking company in Richfield, according to a Washington County Sheriff's Department report. The trailer was found four days later - sans beer - at an Oak Creek trucking firm.

The missing product, valued at $25,788, included:

- 384 24-packs of Miller Genuine Draft cans

- 560 18-packs of MGD 12-ounce bottles

- 980 18-packs of MGD 12-ounce cans

- 40 24-packs of Miller Light 16-ounce plastic bottles

Somebody get me some pants

WILKES-BARRE – The sluggish process of picking a jury for Hugo Selenski's trial got even more bogged down Thursday morning because Selenski did not have any pants to wear. An apparent clothing mix-up led to Selenski having only inmate pants to don when he left prison for court Thursday morning. But the jury can't see him in any prison garb. So Thursday's start of court was delayed until his attorney could run to his car and grab another pair of Selenski's slacks.

Hugo's wardrobe malfunction was the highlight of the week. Nine jurors have been chosen and hopefully the rest will be picked before the end of next week. The thing that strikes me in the press coverage is how much detail they are publishing about these people. They haven't published their names but list occupations, marital status and how many kids they have. I don't remember any case where this many details about the jury are known before the trial.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Buy Rick a coffeemaker

How Santorum paid for his Va. house...and his Starbucks coffee

Santorum and his wife received a $500,000, five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, Va., home from a small Philadelphia private bank run by a major campaign donor's even though its stated policy is to make loans only to its "affluent" investors, which the senator is not.

A political action committee chaired by Santorum, America's Foundation, spends less money on direct aid to GOP candidates, its stated purpose and more on expenditures than similar PACs. And its expenditure reports are littered with scores of unorthodox expenses for a political committee, with charges at coffee and ice cream shops and fast-food joints as well as supermarkets and a home-hardware store.

For example, America's Foundation made some 66 charges at Starbucks Coffee, almost all in the senator's hometown of Leesburg, and 94 charges at another D.C.-area vendor, HMS Host.

Young Philly Politics has a solution to the dilemma:

So, in order to help Rick, we at YPP have two choices: Buy Rick a starbucks card, to make sure he can have a couple of ethics-worry-free lattes, or we can go ahead and buy him a coffee maker. And, maybe, if we really want to help Rick out, we can throw in a travel mug, as well. I even volunteer to show Rick how to use the coffee maker correctly!
Do you accept the challenge? Will you contribute to a coffee maker for our caffeine deprived junior Senator?

Merging Fire Departments

The Forty Fort and Kingston Fire Departments work together on virtually every call

Officials from both municipalities are exploring merging their fire departments, and a committee will be formed to study the matter. Council members and residents from each town and members of both departments will serve on the committee, Forty Fort Council President Joe Chacke said. "We have limited resources and we're trying to find the best way to utilize them," Chacke said. Kingston’s Fire Department consists of 22 paid firefighters plus Fire Chief Bob Cannon, according to the municipality’s general fund budget. Kingston also opened a brand new fire station in February 2005, which cost approximately $3 million. Forty Fort, on the other hand, is a volunteer staff with only four full-time and eight part-time employees, all of them paid drivers.

Sounds like a good idea. Maybe they should include Edwardsville in these discussions. I know people will object to giving up local control but the economies of scale come into play. All these small towns can't afford to continue to offer independent services such as fire and police. What is a town anyway? It's just lines drawn on a map.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Thanks Steve Flood

Pension fund rises by $50M-The Luzerne County pension fund is worth $192.8 million – a more than $50 million increase since it was overhauled and put under the management of Merrill Lynch in October 2002, the county Retirement Board learned Tuesday.

WILKES-BARRELuzerne County retirees’ pension checks could soon increase

If the pension fund can afford the increase, the adjustment will be either 85 percent or 100 percent of the federal government’s 4.1 increase for 2006. County retirees’ pension checks will increase 3.2 percent or 4.1 percent as a result.

An increase of $50 million in less than 6 years or to put it another way a 35% boost. The pension fund is doing better than my investments. Pensions are a big issue right now as many large companies are trying (getting) out of their pension obligations.

Great, now the Feds are suing us

The Justice Dept. said counties must comply with a federal law on voting systems by the May primary.

The U.S. Department of Justice has waded into Pennsylvania's growing crisis over voting systems, threatening to sue the state if its counties fail to be in compliance with federal law by the May primary election.

In addition to the potential lawsuit, Wan J. Kim, assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, also warned in a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Thomas Corbett dated Feb. 21 that $23 million in federal funds might be at risk. He said he plans to file a complaint in federal court within 10 days. Triggering the threatening missive from the federal agency is the Help America Vote Act, passed by Congress in 2002 in the wake of the 2000 election debacle in Florida. The law, which standardized voting procedures, mandates that all jurisdictions upgrade to electronic machines in time for the 2006 federal primaries. Levers and punch cards do not meet that standard. The law also mandates that each precinct in the country have at least one voting machine that can be used by handicapped voters.

What a clusterfuck this is turning into. We are now looking at 2 ways of voting in the May primary. What's the rush? Isn't it better to get it right than quick?

Maybe they take football too seriously

KINGSTON -The Wyoming Valley West School Board voted 6-2 Thursday night at the Middle School in Kingston to name Curry as its ninth football coach, affording the Larksville native the opportunity, in a sense, to come back home. Curry replaces Ed Michaels who spent the last eight seasons as the head coach at his alma mater and guided the Spartans to an overall record of 56-29. Curry is the state’s all-time winningest high school coach with a career record of 387-83-5. He led Berwick to six Class AAA state titles and three mythical national championships as well as 13 Wyoming Valley Conference championships. His career record against AAAA schools is 93-35.

Adults, not players, act like children following meeting Supporters of Curry, Michaels square off after board’s decision -The other half of the crowd — mainly parents and students — collectively gasped, then booed. After the vote, Pat Cervenak, Curry’s sister, beamed as she showed off a blue and gold Super Bowl-style ring. She has high hopes for the upcoming football season, she said.“You just wait,” she said. “No more playing these little teams.”One minute later Cervenak stopped smiling.“Hey! That’s Curry’s sister,” an angry woman shouted as Cervenak entered a crush of people in the hallway. After a brief screaming match with a mother, a second woman snatched the camouflage hat off Cervenak’s head. Cervenak quickly grabbed the hat back.The women briefly flailed their arms at each other before a police officer intervened. A group of shocked-looking students and boys in football jackets watched the adults in silence.“I feel bad for the players,” said A.J. Nobile, a Wyoming Valley West senior who will play football at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. “They liked the coach they had.”

Blogroll is back, sort of

I wiped out my blogroll a few weeks ago when I tried to move it to the sidebar. Well I got it back but it's still on the bottom. I don't know what I'm doing wrong as I tried inserting the code all over the template but was only successful in putting it on the end. Oh well, it's better than none at all.

I have listed the sites that are kind enough to link back to me and will add more in the future. Thanks blog buddies!

As usual I will continue to highlight interesting posts from these and other sites.

My Take is covering the voting records of various candidates.

The American Check-Up has some things to say about the Supreme Court and is speculating about 2008.

Another Monkey is dealing with many personal challenges and still finds time to comment on the news of the day.

Politics: Lehigh Valley Style has a great interview with Justin Behrens who is challenging Charlie Dent in the 15th Congressional District.

GrassrootsPA is covering just about everything.

Wilkes-Barre Online has some differences with Cindy Sheehan, Kevin Lynn and Walter Griffith as well as covering the 121st District race.

NEPA Blogs is building a list of local websites.

Keystone Politics is the place to go to read about Senator Rick Santorum's (R-VA) ethical problems and all of today's headlines. They don't link to me yet but LVDem is one of the contributors.

Simply Left Behind doesn't trust Bush. Who does? A special shout out ot Carl, he is the only Blog outside of PA that links here.

One-Man Think Tank is all over the slots thing and watches too much PCN.

Penn Patriot Online has great coverage of the 30th District State Senate race.

PoliticsPA lists Bob Mellow as a Harrisburg wimp.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ricky in hot water

keystone Politics is covering all of Sen. Rick Santorum's problems.

Santorum's mortgage raises interest

SEN. RICK SANTORUM and his wife received a $500,000, five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, Va., home from a small, private Philadelphia bank run by a major campaign donor - even though its stated policy is to make loans only to its "affluent" investors, which the senator is not.
Good-government experts said the mortgage from The Philadelphia Trust Co. raises serious questions about Santorum's conduct at a time when he is the Senate GOP's point man on ethics reform. They said it would be a violation of the Senate's ethics rules if Santorum received something a regular citizen could not get.

He also has some charity that doesn't play by the rules. They collect money but use most of it to cover overhead. From an Allen Sandals press release:

1) Operation Good Neighbor violated Pennsylvania law because it failed to register with the Commonwealth, despite having raised more than $25,000.

2) Although normal charities typically use 75% of charitable funds raised for program-related grants, Operation Good Neighbor Foundation only used 35.9% for that purpose. A surprising 56.5% of funds raised for charitable purposes were used instead to subsidize salaries, fundraising, travel, conference costs, and rent.

3) The Executive Director of the Foundation, Robert G. Bickhart, was paid $50,000 during 2002-03. Bickhart also serves as the Santorum election campaign's finance director.

4) Bickhart's business, Capitol Resource Group a lobbying firm which is self-described as a "government affairs consortium" occupies the same office suite as the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation AND Rick Santorum's campaign office. The address for all three organizations is One Tower Bridge, Suite 1440, West Conshohocken.

Fund Raisers

I get a weekly update on fundraisers for political candidates and couple caught my eye.

28-Feb-06Phyllis Mundy for State Rep. Comm.

- Breakfast at McGrath's, 202 Locust St., HBG 8-9:30AM


07-Mar-06Citizens for Yudichak

- BreakfastMcGrath's Pub, 202 Locust St., HBG8-9:30AM


McGrath's must serve a great eggs benedict. Or maybe it's a good place for lobbyist to pass their cash to the incumbents.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Political guru

When I was first involved in politics you had to get the blessing of the local political boss if you wanted to run for office. In Luzerne County that man was State Senator Marty Murray. He demanded 2 things, loyalty and obedience. If you paid you're dues and he thought you were ready he would back you for elective office. Former Controller Steve Flood tells a funny story about the time he told Marty he was going to run for office. Murray told him not to until he gave him the OK. When Flood pressed the issue Murray told him the lamp on his desk would beat him if it had his blessing. Steve ran anyway and the breathing equivalent of the lamp won the election.

The new political guru is Ed Mitchell, he doesn't demand loyalty or obedience just money. In the last county election Luzerne County Controller Maryanne Petrilla paid his company over $100,000 to get elected. His clients are are a who's who of the local political establishment. Congressman Kanjorski, Bob Casey Jr., Prothonatary Jill Moran, DA Dave Lupas, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, State Reps. John Yudichak, Phyllis Mundy, Kevin Blaum, a bunch of Judges and many more.

His new project is Brian O'Donnell, a Wilkes -Barre Area School Director who is running to succeed Kevin Blaum as the 121st District Represenative in the General Assembly. Mitchell describes him as "new blood." I just think he's got the best chance to win," Mitchell said. "I like the fact that he's somewhat of an outsider." If my memory is right he is part of the establishment of office holders and his brother Brian ran against Ralph Musto a few years ago but was torpedoed when Trini entered the race splitting the anti-Musto vote in some sort of deal with the devil.

So O'Donnell won the Mitchell sweepstakes and must have the cash to pay his company what it will take to win.

In addition to O'Donnell, six Democrats have expressed interest in their party’s nomination in May. Potential candidates include Wilkes-Barre Councilman Mike McGinley, Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly, city Administrator J.J. Murphy, city Solicitor Tim Henry, former city Administrator Jim Hayward and Plains Township resident Jim Williamson, a junior at Princeton University. On the Republican side, only Christine Katsock, who lost to Blaum in 2004, has announced a campaign

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Hugo

The biggest murder trial in Luzerne County in a long time will not be prosecuted by the District Attorney because he does not get along with the presiding Judge. He has appointed a 5 member prosecution team to handle the case:

Lupas has assigned Assistant District Attorneys Jim McMonagle, Sam Sanguedolce and Chris O’Donnell to prosecute the case. Joining them at the prosecution table will be chief investigator, Lt. Detective Gary Capitano, of the district attorney's office, and state Trooper Gerard Sachney.

There are many questions about who the bones discovered in his back yard actually belong to:

Forensic experts faced an extraordinary task in trying to piece together the thousands of chipped bone fragments found in Hugo Selenski’s back yard. Are they from two people? Three people? More? According to prosecutors who spoke in court about the case, experts have said the bones could be from as few as three people and as many as 10. But, can't they be more specific? Can’t DNA prove identity?

This guy has a bone collection in his back yard and they can't tie him to it all?

Hugo Selenski Timeline

From the Citizens Voice:


April 20: Pharmacist Michael Jason Kerkowski is charged with selling drugs without a prescription at the Medicine Shoppe on Route 29, Eaton Township, Wyoming County.

June 28: Kerkowski is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a customer's poisoning death. Joseph James Mekuta of Scranton died after taking an anti-depressant

Dec. 17: Kerkowski pleads guilty to two felony counts each of distributing a controlled substance and insurance fraud.


Jan. 9: Kerkowski’s license is suspended by the state.

Jan. 19: He withdraws his pleas.
Jan. 21: He is arrested for practicing without a license.

Feb. 28: A Wyoming County jury takes only 35 minutes to find the pharmacist guilty of selling painkillers without a prescription.

April 25: Kerkowski pleads no contest to several felony charges involving the illegal sale of painkilling prescription drugs and insurance fraud. Charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Mekuta’s death are again dismissed.

May 14: Kerkowski misses his sentencing hearing and is considered a fugitive from justice. Also missing is his girlfriend, Tammy Lynn Fassett.


June 5: Two bodies are found in a shallow grave on the Kingston Township, Luzerne County, property where Hugo Marcus Selenski lives. Selenski is arrested on charges of robbery, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person, stemming from an incident in fall 2002 during which he allegedly robbed Kerkowski’s father of $40,000.

June 8: Investigators confirm the bodies are those of Kerkowski and Fassett.

June 9: Officials unearth more human remains at the site.

July 3: Selenski is ordered to stand trial on robbery and aggravated assault charges.

July 31: Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas officially indicates Selenski is a suspect in the murders of five people whose remains were found on the Kingston Township property.

Sept. 17: Investigators confirm the identity of two more sets of remains discovered on Selenski’s property. They are Frank James, 29, of New York City and Adeiye Ossasis Keiler, 23, of Kingston. An informant claims that Selenski killed both men, alleged drug dealers, on May 14.

Oct. 6: Selenski is charged with two counts of homicide, criminal conspiracy, robbery and the abuse of a corpse in the deaths of James and Keiler.

Oct. 10: Selenski escapes from the maximum security ward of the Luzerne County Correctional Facility at about 9:40 p.m. Using bedsheets, he climbs down seven stories and then uses a mattress to scale a razor-wire fence.

Oct. 13: Selenski surrenders to state police at 8:40 p.m. at his Kingston Township home. He is taken to the State Correctional Institution at Dallas where he is held in a restricted housing unit.

Nov. 18: District Justice James Tupper rules Selenski will stand trial on two counts each of criminal homicide, robbery and abuse of corpse, and a single count of criminal conspiracy. During the preliminary hearing, Patrick Raymond Russin testifies that Selenski brought Keiler and James to the Mount Olivet Road home in May to "feel them out" as possible robbery targets and then decided to kill them midway through the evening. He said he saw Selenski, 30, shoot both men around 1 a.m.

May 14 and Keiler inside the house several hours later. Russin said the bodies were dragged to a pit on the property and set on fire.


Feb. 5: The Luzerne County district attorney’s office announces it will seek the death penalty against Selenski.

Feb. 6: Selenski's aunt, Catherine Marie Falzone, and her 17-year-old son are charged with hindering apprehension for hiding Selenski in her home the day after his escape.

Feb. 9: A heavily restrained Selenski pleads not guilty to murder charges.

March 12: The estranged wife of Kerkowski is arrested on a federal weapons charge for disposing firearms to known drug addicts or drug users. She later pleads guilty.

June 6: Selenski tells The Citizens’ Voice in an exclusive interview, "I’m not claiming I wasn't involved, but there are other people more involved."

June 9: Federal investigators charge Selenski's younger brother, Ronald Selenski Jr., with providing the accused killer with two shotguns, including the weapon used in two slayings.


Dec. 22: The state Superior Court upholds Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.'s earlier ruling that jurors will not hear an alleged incriminating statement made by Selenski that five bodies would be found on his property.


Jan. 24: Christina Strom pleads guilty to helping Selenski launder thousands of dollars he allegedly got through drug dealing, robbery and murder.She agrees to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and admits in federal court that she was aware money used to purchase her Kingston Township home came from murders and other criminal activity.

Feb. 10: Olszewski rules that Selenski can be held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility — from which he once escaped — during his trial.

Feb. 15: Olszewski rules Selenski can"t be prosecuted for his escape, stating that prosecutors waited too long to merge the separate homicide and escape charges for trial.

A jury for Hugo

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A telegenic ex-con who has taunted prosecutors and has gained a small but avid following said he felt good as he arrived for trial Tuesday, nearly three years after a tip led police to the remains of at least five people buried in his backyard.
"I'm just ready, that's it," Hugo Selenski said as deputies brought him to the courthouse at 7:40 a.m., wearing a dress shirt and dark tie.
Selenski's murder trial has been eagerly anticipated in northeastern Pennsylvania, where the charismatic one-time bank robber has become something of a celebrity. He escaped from jail following his 2003 arrest, gave newspaper interviews in which he heaped scorn on prosecutors and breezily denied any knowledge of the corpses found on his property. Jury selection began Tuesday morning amid extraordinary courthouse security and was expected to last through the end of the week. Twelve jurors and four alternates were to be chosen from a pool of 150 potential jurors.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Greens in Wilkes-Barre

CV: The Pennsylvania Green Party will convene in Wilkes-Barre next week to nominate candidates for governor and U.S. Senate. "I'm really excited and flattered that the Northeast was chosen, because I’m proud of my party and I'm proud of Northeastern Pennsylvania," said Wilkes-Barre political activist Carl Romanelli Jr. The Pennsylvania Green Party has grown to almost 17,000 members, 432 of them in Luzerne County alone, Romanelli said. Romanelli and Jay Sweeney, chairman of the Wyoming County Green Party, organized the convention, themed 'Peace is Patriotic: A Green Party Plan for American Security. " The event is open to the public, and the goal is to promote the Green Party and its anti-Iraq war platform.

I think this is great. I can't remember any political party having a state convention in W-B. I just might check out the Friday night cocktail party.

Schedule of Events highlights

Saturday 2/25

Main Ballroom at the Genetti's

9:30 am Opening Ceremony - Skip Mendler - Wayne County

10:00 am Ballot Access Coalition/Voter's Choice ActDiscussion will include the recent Ballot Access Lawsuit Bob Small - Delaware County, Ken Krawchuk - Libertarian Party

Ken Krawchuck provided most of the fun in the last round of governors debates.

10:45 am Democracy Rising - Kathleen Daugherty - Co-Founder Democracy Rising Pa

11:30 am Counter-Recruiting and the Selective Service Law - Victoria Ross - Susquehanna County

1:30 pm Poetry Reading - Jim Spak Poet/Activist (Host) - Luzerne County

Jim Spak reading poetry? He may outdo the Vogons:

Saturday Evening Speakers

6:00 pm Carl Romanelli - Luzerne County Green Party "Columbia and the Need for a more Enlightened Foreign Policy"

7:00 pm Malik Rahim- "Katrina Response and the Continuing Struggle Against Racism"

8:00 PM Featured Speaker - Michael Berg The father of Nicholas Berg, who was executed in Iraq. Michael Berg is running for Congress in Delaware as a Green. He will tell his story and why he is running as a Green.

Sunday February 26

9 am - Noon Green Party Business Meeting

Noon - Lunch - Speaker Kevin Zeese - An Independent Unity Run for Senate - Peace, Justice, Democracy and Prosperity

1 - 4 pm Nominations

Celebrity and politics

TT: Frank Andrews is recognizable to many as the anchor of local television newscasts for years, first at WNEP-TV, now at WYOU-TV.
His real name is Frank Shimkus and he's thinking about running for the state representative seat currently filled by Gaynor Cawley. If Mr. Andrews runs, the name he uses on the ballot could help determine his success.

If I remember right Frank left WNEP because he had one too many cocktails at night.

Another rumored candidate is Marisa Burke the present anchor of WNEP. The buzz is she will take on State Senate minority leader Bob Mellow.

Happy Presidents Day

One of my favorite Presidents is William Henry Harrison. He wasn't around long enough to screw up the country:

But before he had been in office a month, he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. On April 4, 1841, he died--the first President to die in office--and with him died the Whig program.

Pennsylvania's only President tops the list for Worst Presidential Errors:

So who had the worst blunder? President James Buchanan, for failing to avert the Civil War, according to a survey of presidential historians organized by the University of Louisville's McConnell Center. Scholars who participated said Buchanan didn't do enough to oppose efforts by Southern states to secede from the Union before the Civil War.

Thanks to Simply Left Behind for the above.

So who is the worst President of modern times? My pick:

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Some PA links

Bill Bostic has become one of my favorite reads and now he is doing podcasts. His latest is an interview with former GOP Governor candidate Jim Panyard. Neither one of these gentlemen are afraid to speak their minds and are very entertaining together. Maybe they should have a show on PCN. You can catch the fun at One-Man Think Tank.

PennPatriot Online is a conservative blog that welcomes debate, has well reasoned arguments and doesn't resort to name calling.

As Randy put it: I always try and keep in mind the voter when posting or commenting on issues. I personally feel that blogging should be about public debate. So I encourage others to disagree with my comments. Debate is essential for fostering healthy political discourse in Pennsylvania. I also believe that the blogging world in PA is perhaps the best in the country. A good blogger should always respect other individuals or bloggers that disagree with them.

Spending more money they don't have

WILKES-BARRE Luzerne County commissioners are expected to authorize approximately $400,000 in funding to four agencies to advance upcoming projects.

The Catholic Youth Center in Wilkes-Barre needs $200,000 for a new gymnasium, the Tri Area Recreation Authority wants $100,000 for two recreational parks in the Hazleton area and the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts has requested $20,000 for the Governor’s Award for the Arts festivities planned for this summer. Representatives from all three agencies made their pitch to Commissioners Greg Skrepenak, Stephen Urban and Todd Vonderheid at Friday’s work session. American Legion Mountain Top Post 781 also is seeking $75,000 for a baseball field.

They are borrowing a few more million just to cover payroll this year and claim they have cut as much as they can. I'm sure all of these projects are worthwhile but they claim they don't have the money to operate the county without floating yet another bond. Are you telling me these organizations can't hold fundraisers to finance these improvements? A case in point, I'm a member of the Kirby Center and respond to all of the extra appeals. The latest one is they want to put my name on a seat for a price.

Suck it up boys and learn to say NO until you get the county on a better financial footing.

Joe Hoeffel for Lt. Gov.

HARRISBURG - Receiving no objection from Gov. Rendell, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Hoeffel said yesterday he would move ahead with his planned campaign for lieutenant governor. Hoeffel said Rendell, in a private meeting on Wednesday, made no attempt to dissuade him from taking on Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll in the Democratic primary.
He said he would not run over "the governor's active objections."

Hoeffel's entrance into the lieutenant governor's race would make it a four-way primary. Valerie McDonald Roberts, Allegheny County's recorder of deeds, and Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp also seek the office. They are taking on the incumbent Catherine Baker Knoll who has been involved in various controversies recently.

This is fun

"I strongly endorse Congressmen Kanjorski's retirement."- State Representative John Yudichak

Another confirmation of Yuddy's regard for Kanjo as reported by Bill Fitz at My Take.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Carl Romanelli

Carl Romanelli, a native of the North End of Wilkes-Barre, is seeking the Green Party nomination for US Senate. In fact the nominating convention will be held in W-B Feb. 24 to Feb. 26 at the Genetti Hotel & Convention Center. He has been involved in the local political scene for some time and is regular quote in the local papers. He volunteered his services in Wilkes-Barre redistricting controversy but was ignored. I knew Carl when we were growing up and had no idea he was as big a political junkie as me. I haven't seen him in years. The only other local Green I know is Jim Spak who I first met when he was working for Morris Udall in the 1976 Presidential campaign.

Good luck in getting the 67,000 signatures you need to get on the ballot.


If you start a movement to remove all the legislators in Harrisburg you're going to get a reaction.

The Patriot-News: PACleanSweep is finding out politics can be dirty business. The founders of the Web-based movement to oust all state lawmakers seeking re-election have become the target of an opposing Web site., launched this week, takes swipes at Russell Diamond, the founder and board chairman of the campaign, which grew from the public outcry over last summer's legislative pay raises. Those raises, which ranged from 16 percent to 54 percent, were repealed.

To the shock and amazement of no one a Harrisburg Republican staffer is behind the effort.

HARRISBURG -- An aide to House Republicans created a Web site that attacks the head of anti-incumbency group PACleanSweep. House leaders insist that Bob Nye, who works in the state Capitol in the district operations office under House Majority Leader Sam Smith, acted alone and that lawmakers were unaware he had posted the site.

Lawsuits coming soon.

UPDATE: Lawsuit filed

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The founder of a group seeking to defeat incumbent state lawmakers filed a federal libel lawsuit Friday against the creator of an opposition Web site that alleges that his campaign is a "moneymaking scheme."
The site,, compares PACleanSweep chairman Russ Diamond to former Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and alleges that "81 percent of every dime CleanSweep has spent has gone directly into Russ Diamond's pocket."
"The last time I looked, when you call somebody a criminal and it ain't true, that's libel per se," said Lawrence M. Otter, a Doylestown attorney representing Diamond, who said he learned about the Web site's existence on Saturday.

The complaint also alleges that PACleanSweep's civil rights have been violated because seeks to thwart its effort to field challengers against incumbent lawmakers in the primary and general elections. The organization says it has recruited more than 80 candidates.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Each of the Commonwealth’s arguments is without merit

-Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr

So the one crime you can prove get's dismissed because the paperwork wasn't filed on time. Now you have to prove a crime with a lot less evidence. Goood luck Mr. Lupas.

Hugo escapes some charges


Every level of society has become technology drunk. Why use a pencil and paper when you can use a $3000 machine to do the same thing? Our lever machines have served us well for many years why not use an updated version? I'm sure if you wrote a specification for an updated lever machine some company would build it. But the Help America Vote Act mandated something different.

The TL: Ballots for state and local offices would be cast through the familiar lever-style machines the county has used for decades. But in elections where federal offices are up for grabs, voters would have to use paper ballots – or if the county so chooses, the electronic system being proposed – to cast votes for those offices.
That's the scenario painted in a Commonwealth Court ruling issued Monday in a Westmoreland County case. The ruling, which will have statewide impact, requires Westmoreland County to get approval from voters via a referendum before changing to an electronic voting machine, like the model chosen by Luzerne County officials.

Ol' Froth has it right:

And what's wrong with paper ballots anyway? Sure, you cannot count them quickly, but high-speed counting benefits but one group, the media. I'd rather have it right, and get the results a day later than have high speed tallying for the benefit of the media that results in an inaccurate vote result.

Local candidates websites

I'm not going to list the sites of the statewide candidates but will give a glimpse of our Luzerne County hopefuls. I'm going to wait until after the March 7 deadline to list all the candidates but in the mean time here are one's who have established a web presence.

20th Senatorial District

Daivid Madeira

Jim Haggerty

Lisa Baker

117th House District

James May

Stanford Davis

Karen Boback

118th House District

Jim Spinola

120th House District

Joe Chacke

Paul Stebbins

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Voting machines

WILKES-BARRE-On Monday Commonwealth Court ruled that the state Constitution requires a referendum before voting methods are changed, according to Charles A. Pascal Jr., the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, 11 Westmoreland County residents.

A state Supreme Court decision upholding that of the lower court could complicate Luzerne County’s receipt of the $3 million in federal funding for the machines. A required referendum could delay the institution of the voting terminals, and the county could miss the May deadline built into the federal law.

This may complicate Luzerne County's switch to electronic voting machines or it may get thrown out on appeal. Over at GrasrootsPA one of my favorite analyst has this to say:

"The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators."- Article I, Section 4 of the US Constitution

I've not examined the legal argument, but it appears that through the application of the Supremacy Clause, valid Federal Statute (The help America Vote Act) would trump the state constitution and state statute with respect to the 2006 Congressional / Senatorial elections.

Conservative Goddess


"Money talks" and "principle walks" in the New Monarchy, Republicans and Democrats alike, which rules our state.-Jim Panyard

NEWS RELEASE: Mr. Swann’s nomination, sadly, proves the state Republican Party is not interested in principle, but in power and celebrity. It is not interested in public policy and answers to the state’s multitude of problems, financial, social, educational or otherwise. It is interested in winning, principle be damned. When a man of Bill Scranton’s stature and resources believes a primary fight for the nomination is foolhardy, it doesn't take a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing. The Rendell-Swann celebrity "horse race" will be a media fest but, regardless of the outcome, the people of Pennsylvania will lose again.

Swann now lone GOP gubernatorial candidate: Former football star Lynn Swann's march to the November election just got a little bit easier. Long-shot candidate Jim Panyard of Lebanon County dropped out of the race this afternoon, saying he couldn't attract enough press or financial support to his struggling campaign to make it worth waging.

Panyard's exit means this year's election just turned into a high powered, celebrity face-off between Swann and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Politics and Sports just don't mix

Regular commenter Soccermike has a guest post:

Politics and Sports just don't mix

When you think of politics and sports together you can't help to think what disaster is going to happen next. Take last spring, when congress had nothing better to do, except control a war, they instead drilled current and former Major League Baseball players on the use of steroids. Then there is the Washington Nationals mess, first the city's council of men and women voted to bring the team down to earth as well from Montreal and promised Major League Baseball that they would have a new stadium. Instead they are voting the stadium down and possibly the team might have to move again. Not to pick on just baseball, the other mess in Pittsburgh regarding the Penguins who are for sale for a cheap $100 million, who are the only major sports franchise in Pa. without a new stadium or arena. Even the lowly Pirates who have one of the worst records in baseball have a new stadium. So the team is for sale and the Penguins will probably move to Kansas City or somewhere west. Besides the government money to build these stadiums and arena, and the political smiles at the ribbon cutting ceremony, or the first pitch on opening day politicians have to stay out of sports and here is the best example I could give right here in Northeast Pa.

Here you have two counties Luzerne and Lackawanna. One team is a minor league baseball team and the other is a minor league hockey team. One team is controlled by the county commissioners and the other is controlled by the individuals who have business experience behind them and a major sports team. Who do you think makes money? The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are on of the best teams in the AHL. Even in the beginning of their franchise seven years ago they were sold out every game. They average over 8,000 fans per game today is second in the whole league they are on tops of the league in memorabilia and team apparel sold every year. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons mean while only draw about 4,000 per game last summer, memorabilia and team apparel do not sell as easily and their stadium runs every ticket promotion you could imagine to draw in fans. Not to mention when you want to get a job with the stadium or the team front office, every decision has to go through the County Commissioners. If that is not a disaster waiting to happen I don't know what is. It's not surprising to me that the Philadelphia Phillies want to move the minor league team to Allentown. Not only is it closer for them, they won't have to deal with these commissioners who don't listen to anyone but themselves. I feel bad for the Phillies management. You have a good following with fans, your only 2 hrs. away from your prospects, and the team use to draw pretty well. I think the fans are getting sick and tired of the politics involving the stadium, I think that is why attendance is down.

Aaron Burr

The last Vice President to shoot someone was Aaron Burr who killed Alexander Hamiliton in a duel in 1804.

Indicted for murder in New York and New Jersey but never tried in either jurisdiction; escaped to South Carolina, then returned to Washington and completed his term of service as Vice President; arrested and tried for treason in August 1807 for attempting to form a republic in the Southwest of which he was to be the head, but was acquitted.

Letterman's Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses

10. Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm
9. Wanted to get the Iraq mess of the front page
8. Not enough Jim Beam
7. Trying to stop the spread of bird flu
6. I love to shoot people
5. Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter
4. I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me
3. Excuse? I hit him didn't I?
2. Until Democrats approve Medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly
1. Made bet with Gretzgy's wife

Sunday, February 12, 2006

DA drops the ball

"A case of this magnitude, of this importance, how the rule couldn't be followed is beyond me," -Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

The latest in the Hugo Selenski case is that DA's office didn't file the paperwork to charge him with escape.

WILKES-BARRE- One document. That's all Luzerne County prosecutors had to file to preserve the prosecution of Hugo Selenski’s escape charges.
But an assistant district attorney on Friday conceded his office apparently didn't file that document. Now, trying Selenski on charges related to his daring and nationally known escape from the county prison is in limbo. Olszewski on Friday also ordered Selenski to return to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility until the end of his trial.

Bugaboo has all Hugo all the time.

Federal authorities say W-B man is a terrorist

This must be big news as I just heard it mentioned on FOXNEWS:

TL: Michael Curtis Reynolds says he's a patriot. Federal authorities say he's a terrorist.
The FBI believes that the unemployed Wilkes-Barre man tried to conspire with al-Qaeda to wreck the American economy. Agents say Reynolds plotted to blowup the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a Pennsylvania pipeline, and a New Jersey refinery. The sensational allegations, disclosed in a federal transcript obtained by The Inquirer on Friday, reveal a convoluted plot that includes cyberspace intrigue, an elaborate FBI sting, and a clandestine money-drop on a deserted Idaho road.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Some silliness

There is another Senate candidate that has not gathered much attention in her race to succeed Rick Santorum.


Check out : senator solange pennsylvania 2006

The "third Bush twin" has a CD out:

On November 25th, 1981, George W. Bush became the loving father of twins. Unfortunately, Mom gave birth to triplets.
Hello, America. I'm Flora Bush, the daughter the President doesn't want you to know about. I'm a Democrat! I'm a punk! And I'm going to rock you with my new album, THE CHILD LEFT BEHIND!!!

Listen to Flora Bush' debut CD featuring such classics as " Get out of Iraq (and my room) and "Puppies and Landmines"

Free Ride?

Nomination petitions will start to be circulated for various offices up this year on February 15 and must be filed by March 7. Unless there is a surprise 3 of our Luzerne County lawmaker will face no opposition. Even after the uproar over the pay raise and efforts of groups like
PACleanSweep no one is willing to challenge our veteran legislators Ray Musto (Sen-14th), Todd Eachus (Rep-116th) and John Yudichak (Rep-119th). I'm not passing judgment on the performance of these gentlemen in office but every candidate should be opposed. I'm going to wait and see who gets enough signatures to get on the ballot for the various open seats before I start weighing in on their chances. But it is sad that only one incumbent, Phyllis Mundy, has attracted any opponents. On a related note Mark has a great rundown of the candidates in the mix to succeed Kevin Blaum in the 121st District at Wilkes-Barre Online.

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Poll

Rendell, Swann in dead heat:

In a hypothetical showdown, Rendell received 45 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Swann, the likely GOP nominee. Thirteen percent were undecided. A Keystone poll in September showed Rendell with a 20-point lead over Swann.

In the equally high-profile U.S. Senate race, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., the likely Democratic nominee, continues to hold a double-digit lead over U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn Hills, although Santorum has gained some ground, according to the poll. In the Senate race, the poll shows Casey, a Democrat from Scranton, leading Santorum by 50 percent to 39 percent with 11 percent undecided.

The whole Keystone Poll is here.

Journalists Roundtable on PCN

The best show on TV if you want to keep up on state government is Journalists Roundtable on PCN. As the title suggests it's weekly discussion of the issues facing Pennsylvania's politicians with the reporters who cover Harrisburg. There is a blog devoted to watching and providing a summary of what is on PCN with the creative title of PCN Blog. The contributors to the PCN Blog are some PA's top bloggers and are worth a read every day.

above average jane
Froth Slosh B'Gosh
Mark Rauterkus
Fester's Place
America's Hometown
One-Man Think Tank

300 signatures

There has been some news about who is and who is not running for 2 of the open state rep seats in Luzerne County. From the TL:

Wilkes-Barre Councilwoman Kathy Kane and city Assistant Solicitor Bill Vinsko are out, and city Administrator J.J. Murphy and Solicitor Tim Henry might be in the race for state Rep. Kevin Blaum’s 121st District seat. Democrats Kane and Vinsko had contemplated running but have decided not to try to succeed Blaum, D-Wilkes-Barre, who announced in December he wouldn't seek re-election. Democrats Murphy and Henry said they will soon decide whether to run.

Other Democrats who might run for the seat include: city Councilman Mike McGinley; Brian O'Donnell, an optometrist and a two-year Wilkes-Barre Area School Board member; Bob Reilly, the Luzerne County clerk of courts; and 21-year-old Jim Williamson of Plains Township, president of his Princeton University junior class. Christine Katsock is the only Republican to announce a campaign for Blaum's seat

In the 118th:

Michael Carroll, a legislative aide for state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, said he may run in the Democratic primary for state Rep. Tom Tigue's 118th District seat. Pittston Area School Board member James O’Brien announced Saturday he’s in the running for Tigue’s seat. Terry Best, another Pittston Area board member, said he plans to make it official next week. Mark Singer, an attorney who also serves on the Pittston Area School Board, has dropped thoughts of entering the Democratic battle for Tigue's seat.

Three Republicans have announced plans to run for Tigue’s seat: Arthur Bobbouine, of Pittston, Luzerne County’s chief deputy sheriff; Maureen Tatu, a Chestnuthill Township supervisor in Monroe County; and Jim Spinola, also of Chestnuthill Township and an architect with an Allentown firm.

All this will shake out March 7, the last day to circulate nomination petitions. A state representative candidate needs at least 300 signatures on a nominating petition for a spot on the ballot. In the state senate race 500 signatures are required. As anyone who has ever been involved in a campaign knows getting 300 signatures is not as easy as it sounds.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Governor Rendell outlines budget

Governor Rendell gave the annual budget address in the state capitol and promised more education and healthcare spending without a tax increase. It had some political theater that reminded me of the SOTU. He got a long, cheering standing ovation for his call to increase the minimum wage and introduced various people in the audience after reciting their accomplishments. He claimed that his administration has saved over $1 billion through better management and cut the state payroll by 4000 jobs without layoffs. He also challenged the legislators to enact property tax reform by the end of the month. The entire budget is outlined at the official state website.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hugo update

It would take to long to review all of twists of the Hugo Selenski case so I'm just going to post the latest as it happens.

On Monday Selenski's escape partner surprised everyone by pleading guilty to attempted escape. This was surprising because he has always said that Selenski pushed him out of the window. Bolton also pleaded guilty Monday to stealing an all-terrain vehicle from a home in Sugarloaf Township, Columbia County, in January 2002 and is facing a long sentence because of a long criminal history.

During a pre-trial hearing last week Selenski's lawyer told him to "Shut up and sit down. When you're in the courtroom, I'm in charge." And his girlfriend Christina Strom, 32, agreed to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.

Adding to the unfolding drama a key defense witness, Dr. Cyril Wecht, the former Allegheny County medical examiner has been indicted for corruption.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Voting rights

There is a new movement spreading throughout the United States to restrict the franchise of voting.

Keystone Politics is documenting these efforts in our Commonwealth. After poll taxes, literacy tests and other efforts you would think we have got past that.

J. Gregory Palmer on HB 1318

Paula Diane Harris makes an impassioned defense of the voting rights act.

The end of the road

So once again a handful of power brokers decide for all of us who our nominee will be. Why do we even bother having primary elections anymore? bobbi - a comment on GrassrootsPA

First the most experienced Republican candidate, State Senator Jeff Piccola, couldn't make any traction now the former Lt. Governor got clobbered in the various regional caucuses and hangs it up. That leaves Jim Panyard as the only alternative on the Republican side to Lynn Swann, a political novice and former Pittsburgh Steeler star. Rapid Edward is looking good.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Who's buying your Congressman?

It has been pointed out that that our 10th District Congressman Don Sherwood has had a problem raising money from people but not from PACs. Let's take a look at who is giving to him.

The latest FEC filings tell us what special interest he is in bed with.

In this latest round he got got $4000 from EXELON CORPORATION PAC. On top of at least $18,000 he recieved from Exxon-Mobile who just reported record profits of over $40 billion while you and me pay the most for gasoline we have ever had to in our lives.

Big Pharma and Insurance companies gave him almost $10, 000 in this cycle alone. Is it any wonder that the new Medicare Drug Plan is off to such a rocky start. I'm willing to bet that he didn't even read the bill before he voted on it.

He recieved $2500 from a company in North Dakota called Agri-MArk. I don't know of any connecton locally to this outfit.

The American Bankers Association gave him at least $2000. A payoff for his vote on the bankruptcy bill.

Then I look at the list of companies that are fattening up his war chest but don't do business in our area.

BAE Systems of North America
Burlinton Northern
Eli Lilly
Northrup Grummen
General Dynamics
Genesis Healthcare
General Motors
General Electric
Lockheed Martin

To be fair he took money from some local businesses and labor unions. Commonwelth Telephone gave him a nice chunk of cash which I will bring up at the next stockholders meeting. They hate me anyway, I love being a pain in the ass.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hugo Selenski

The biggest murder trial in the history of Luzerne County since the last one is set to start next week. I usually stay away from blogging about crime and punishment but this story is facinating.

The Hugo story will probably be a movie of the week (hopefully not on Lifetime). He is accused of killing 3 or more people and mutilating the corpses then burying them behind his house. There were a few more bodies discovered out there that are unaccounted for. He was arrested and sent to the Luzerne County Prison and then escaped using bed sheets. Bed sheets! What a cliche but it worked.

Some links :

Altered Perception

The Citizens Voice

The Times-Leader

The Super Bowl

It’s time again for America’s unofficial holiday. Friends and family gather to watch the game, eat too much and have a beer or 6. I don’t have a dog in the fight this year since the Eagles self destructed and became a bad soap opera. Mrs. Gort is a big Steelers fan and is wearing her black and gold. I’m showing my PA solidarity by donning my Eagles attire. As with most years I just want a good game and entertaining commercials. But I doubt they can top the year Louie the Lizard tried to electrocute the frogs.

120th District update

With all the comings and goings of candidates for Luzerne County's seats in the legislature I'm going to try and sort out who is running for what. Today we start with the 120th District House seat held by Democrat Phyllis Mundy. So far she does not have a primary opponent but 4 Republicans have announced their intention to seek the nomination to oppose her.

The first to announce was Kingston businessman John C. Cordara who said his decision to run for the state House of Representatives was ignited by Mundy's support of last year's controversial pay-raise legislation. In his official announcement he said " My first order of business is to ban gay marriage." He also had an amusing letter published in the TL recently:

Every two years, liberal state Rep. Phyllis Mundy comes out of her hole to predict the political climate for the next two years. She is paid $72,500 plus many benefits per year to do so.
This year, Phyllis, known to some taxpayers as "Punxsutawney Phyllis," saw her shadow. That means two more years of pay raises and self-serving politics.

The second candidate to throw his hat into the ring is Forty Fort Borough Council President Joe Chacke. In his announcement he outlined his role in the Forty Fort police crises and Phyllis Mundy's lack of involvement. From his website:

This past year Forty Fort Borough made a very difficult and controversial decision. Based on skyrocketing costs and with our incomes declining, we couldn't afford the police department as is. After many months of intense meetings and negotiating with the police department, we reached an agreement that saved the department and made it economically feasible to maintain it. Throughout the entire ordeal, Representative Phyllis Mundy sat idly by without offering any support or guidance to the Borough. We need a PRO-ACTIVE Representative in Harrisburg who is willing to work with local government officials to assist them with these issues.

West Pittston educator Paul J. M. Stebbins Jr. is an outspoken opponent of regionalization and thinks slots are not the answer to funding our schools. He has some detailed positions on his website.

In the area of crime he favors expanding the predator Task Force and will work with the Pennsylvania Drug Task Force to combat illegal drugs in our area. And "He plans to introduce project PEACE into our local school districts to bring youth violence to a halt. " He also outlines an education plan and believes the first step in health care reform is tort reform.

The other new candidate is Jackson Township Republican Ronald Chvotzkin. He originally was a candidate to succeed retiring State Senator Charles Lemmond but switched to the house race. He is motivated by a frustration in dealing the mental health system and will not take a pay raise if elected. He calls himself a "people's candidate" There will be no back room deals or nepotism," he said. "The wealthy people have too much control and the poor are getting poorer and the middle class are feeling the squeeze. I'm running to help the people." . He supports eliminating the property tax with a tax based on income and wants to restore funding to special education. In addition, Chvotzkin said he will work to create more high-paying jobs in the district and reduce health insurance premiums

Saturday, February 04, 2006

More pay raises

"We're borrow, borrow, borrow, and after reassessment, it's going to be tax, tax, tax." -Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban

County realigns, adding 3 workers

The Luzerne County Salary Board shuffled a bunch of job titles Wednesday, which could add up to $513,000 per year in new payroll costs to the county budget. The board slashed 97 positions and created 100 new ones, some with expanded responsibilities or higher pay. The cuts don't mean anyone will lose their job because many of the positions are empty. Most of the positions being altered or swapped for new ones were held by individuals who left under a recent early retirement incentive. Some of the changed positions are already filled by employees who will receive raises or different titles. The net effect of the restructuring will leave the county with three more full-time positions, for the time being. Skrepenak, Controller Maryanne Petrilla and Vonderheid voted for all the changes, without debate, deliberation or dialogue.

In fact this decision was made behind closed doors in possible violation of the Sunshine Act. They also approved the use of salary ranges that the department heads and row officers can use to hand out raises in the future instead of being put to a vote by the Salary Board.

So they are handing out big raises to people basically doing the same work and are giving up their ability to approve future raises which may violate the 3rd Class County Code. The decisions were made in the dark and the new Controller is following her marching orders of "to get along, go along." This is on top of borrowing $11 million to finance a golden parachute with the promise of saving $2 million over 15 or 20 years if they hold the line on salaries.

More taxes, more debt and more of the same.

Politicians and rock stars

Why does this picture .....

Remind me of this one?

More local links

I just added 3 more sites to NEPA Blogs

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre At The Movies

Michelle's Weblog

The Lady Speaks

The organizer of this effort, DB Echo of Another Monkey, has been busy adding blogs of former NEPA residents. Along with links about famous people from the area and much more. I want to thank Dr. Rick of The American Check-up for plugging the project and the Blogfather has added a link on his home page at Wilkes-Barre Online.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Some advice for Don Sherwood

The General sent a letter to our local Congressman. Many thanks to all who pointed this out.

Strangling big government like it's a sassy mistress

Rep. Don SherwoodU.S. House of Representatives

Dear Rep. Sherwood,

I understand that you're having a little trouble raising money from individual donors. My guess is that they may be afraid that you might break into their homes and strangle them. We need to turn that around.

One of the things I've learned from watching Karl Rove's campaigns is that you have to turn your weaknesses into strengths while doing the opposite to your opponent. An example of this kind of transformation occurred in 2004, when Mr. Rove remade Our Leader, an AWOL draft avoider, into a war hero and his opponent, a decorated Vietnam veteran, into a coward.

You need to do the same kind of thing by turning your penchant for strangling into a selling point. Perhaps you could run ads with tag lines like "Don Sherwood will strangle big government like it's a sassy mistress' or "Don Sherwood believes in family values, so much so that he's willing to strangle his mistress in their defense."

If that doesn't work, you might consider playing on a redemption theme with something like, "Don Sherwood: he hasn't strangled anyone in over sixteen months," or "Don Sherwood: he doesn't strangle people anymore." It's a powerful theme. Our Leader continues to use it effectively with his many "I no longer drink; I just fall down a lot" statements. Please give it a try. I'm sure you'll see some movement in your fundraising.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Matthews to host debate?

Tonight on Hardball Chris Matthews said he will be the moderator of a debate between Rick Santorum and Bob Casey. He said the details are being worked out. But the question is will the candidates be able to say anything without him interrupting them every 20 seconds?

Luzerne County to get new voting machines

With a financial gun against their heads Commissioners Greg Skrepenak, Stephen Urban and Todd Vonderheid unanimously selected the iVotronic System by Nebraska-based Electronic Systems and Software to replace our aging lever machines. They were forced to act because if the machines were not in place by May 16, the county would risk losing a $3 million federal Help America Vote Act grant. Right now there is no guarantee the company can deliver the machines in time for the primary election and they may have to to be modified if the state and federal governments mandate a paper trail.

The decision has it's critics such as Pam Smith, a nationwide coordinator for a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to reliable and publicly verifiable elections. The machine does not allow the county to conduct legitimate audits or recounts, Smith claimed. The machine's verified paper audit trail component is not state certified. As a result, county officials cannot legally use paper audit trails to back up election results.

These machines have been used in Florida with less than great results.

A touchscreen election saga

But the machines proved problematic from the start in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Inadequate training and a lack of familiarity with the equipment appeared to be at fault. Lori Nance Parrish, chairwoman of the Broward County Board of Commissioners, told the Washington Post that poll workers at 50 polling stations failed to pick up the devices needed to turn on the machines the night before the election. It became apparent at the beginning of the day that there would be problems. Reno waited more than 20 minutes to vote as she and reporters watched precinct workers struggle to activate the machines. Problems continued throughout the day, as poll workers discovered they did not know how to change the machine's batteries or download votes after the polls closed. Various reports said that poll workers, frustrated over the new machines, failed to show up on election day or left before the balloting was completed. At least 600 voters left the polls without casting ballots, according to the AP.

Every critic of these machines say a major flaw is the lack of a paper trail. That's easy to fix without buying $3,000 machines, use paper ballots. It is more important to get it right than to do it now.

The Coalition for Voting Integrity is leading the charge on this issue:

Welcome to, a nonpartisan organization headquartered in historic Bucks County, serving all of Pennsylvania. We call on Americans of all parties to join together and support the adoption of a system of checks and balances that ensures the integrity of our elections, guaranteeing that every vote is recorded, counted, and reported accurately . . . with proof. The vote belongs to us. It is up to us to preserve, protect and defend it. Now.

And Factesque has been organizing a blogswarm.