Saturday, July 29, 2006

Meet the candidate

A new feature at Gort42.

If you want to meet the candidates in the upcoming election I'm happy to tell you where to find them. I encourage all local campaigns to send me their schedules and I will publish them unlike the big media.

Dr. Joseph Leonardi is doing the pierogie and halushki circuit this weekend.

Saturday 9:00am Monroe Farmers Market Main Street Stroudsburg, PA

10:30am Nicholas Church Flea Market Rt's 940 and Commerce St. Pocono Summit (Monroe)

12:00pm Pocono Commuters Picnic Mountainview Park, Pavilion 3

4:00pm Chicken BBQ Meridian Ave., Scranton

5:00pm St. Joseph's Summer Festival 2006 2010 Adams Avenue, Scranton

6:00pm northeast fair pittston fairgrounds grimes industrial park

7:00pm Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church Bazar 401 East Main Street W-BSunday1:00 pm

1:00 pm Art in the Park Monroe Chestnuthill Township Park

3pm St Joseph's Summer Festival 2010 Adams Avenue, Scran

4:00PM northeast fair pittston fairgrounds grimes industrial park

5:00pm Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church Bazar 401 East Main Street W-B

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin'

A poll of the 50 most competitive (including the PA 10th) congressional districts across the country points to a possible change in control of the House of Representatives.

NPR Survey: Brave New World in America's Top 50 Districts

This is a very special study conducted solely in the 50 most competitive House seats that will determine the outcome in 2006. Only 10 of the districts are currently held by a Democrat, while 40 are held by Republicans. Voters in these 50 districts gave 58 percent of their votes to George Bush (over Kerry in 2004) and 56 percent to Republican candidates for Congress. But as Congress is recessing for the summer, Republican candidates (polled by name) are getting only 43 percent of the vote. The results are breathtaking and suggest that in the real world where the campaigns are fighting it out for votes, Democrats are in a very strong position to hold virtually all their seats, while the Republicans could readily lose most of theirs. Clearly, the probability of a Democratic takeover in November is rising, and is more likely than not.

In local campaign news John Murtha will be in the area to support Chris Carney.

CLARKS SUMMIT -Congressman John Murtha will be the main speaker at a 12:30 p.m. lunch in support of Chris Carney at the Inn at Nichols Village on U.S. Route 6 in Clarks Summit on Aug. 3, Carney's campaign announced Thursday.
Murtha will be making a major announcement in support of Chris Carney at this event, according to Carney's campaign manager, Andrew Eldredge-Martin

The Roadmap to Reform

Democracy Rising has a list of some needed changes to the way the Commonwealth is governed entitled the Roadmap to Reform. I think this is an effort all Pennsylvanians can support regardless of party. It's not about specific policies but the process.
The first item on the agenda is lobbying reform:

Lobbyist Control
Ban gifts and entertainment
Quarterly reporting for lobbyists with expenses greater than $2,500 per quarter
Restoration of reporting requirements that were modified in the House.

You can't ban lobbying but I think you can restrict it to business hours. We always hear about some lobbyist picking up the tab for a sporting event or dinner that one of our tribunes of the people attended. They're only human, if someone does you a favor you will do one for them. But we pay for those favors. Common sense tells you that this not a healthy relationship. Stop it.

All lobbyist should be registered and disclose all expenditures regardless of how much. I want to know what they spend on everything including office supplies and postage and who paid for it!

The Tubes on YouTube

I'm spending entirely too much time on this YouTube site. But it is fun.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The latest on Hugo

First the old news.

DA to seek death for Selenski, Weakley

Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas on Wednesday filed paperwork notifying Hugo Selenski and Paul Weakley that he intends to seek the death penalty against them in their trial for the deaths of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett.

Yes this is old news as it was first reported on that awful Nancy Grace show on Headline News. But at least the DA filed the paperwork this time.

Now we are back to Lupas vs. Olszewski. Forget Hugo, these two have been in a pissing contest for a while. Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr has smacked down Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas in this and other cases ever since Lupas was elected. Now Lupas is going after Olszewski and accusing him of misconduct via a law clerk and has asked for his removal from the case. Olszewski was the DA before Lupas and knows what a prosecutor should do. So when Lupas screws up he is hard on him. Some advice for Dave, don't pick a fight with a judge. On a side note Lupas was elected DA after raising and spending $ 750,000 on a platform to lock up all the drug dealers. That has been a real success.

The coverage in the local rags is interesting. The Times-Leader has quotes from everybody involved and the Citizens Voice only talked to Lupas.

Some trial balloons

The most important office for many of the politically active in Luzerne County is county commissioner. Sure it's important who is Senator or President but most government decisions that affect your everyday life are made on the local level. For as long as I can remember the county commissioners regardless of party have treated the county government as an employment agency for friends and family. Things have been cleaned up somewhat the last few years but minority GOP commissioner Steve Urban points out that games are still being played such as picking someone for a post yet to be created by the salary board.

The TL has a run down of some possible Republican Candidates next year. Crestwood School Board member Bill Jones said he’d like to tackle Luzerne County’s money problems because he’s concerned about the county’s growing long-term debt. That's music to my ears as I have been bashing the bond brothers for borrowing money left and right for everything from giving a golden parachute to long time employees (then hiring them back as consultants) to just meeting payroll. The only knock I have heard about him is that he is a buddy of Democratic commissioner Greg Skrepenak. We don't need another get along/go along guy like Red Jones. Hanover Area School Board member David Shipula I know nothing about. 20th Senate district runner-up Dave Madeira said he’s been tossing around the possibility. “I’ve been asked (to run) and certainly am considering it.” I like Madeira, I don't agree with him on many issues , but he speaks his mind. Incumbent Republican Commissioner Steve Urban is being coy about his plans. Urban has done a good job just raising hell the the last few years, in fact he was the only one I voted for in the last general election. I know my GOP friends will be shocked by this but I always vote for good government regardless of party.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm not the only one who doesn't like cell phones

Man Accused of Shoving Phone Down Throat

The assault trial of a man accused of shoving a cell phone down a woman's throat has begun.
Prosecutors say 24-year-old Marlon Brando Gill was angry and jealous when he forced the phone into Melinda Abell's throat in December. But defense attorneys insist the 25-year-old victim swallowed the phone intentionally to prevent Gill from finding out who she'd been calling.

Gill is charged with felony first-degree assault.
A doctor at a Kansas City hospital's emergency room used a tool called a "pincher" to remove the phone from Abell's throat.

She testified yesterday that she couldn't remember how the phone got in her throat, saying she drank too much that night. Court records show that her blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

The latest in the 10th CD

Washington, DC (July 20, 2006) Vote Against Violence Political Action Committee (VAVPAC) is dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence by supporting candidates who advocate on behalf of survivors and work to prevent domestic and sexual violence in their communities. Vote Against Violence is excited to endorse Chris Carney in his race against Representative Don Sherwood in Pennsylvania’s Tenth district. Mr. Carney’s tireless commitment to and experience with the issue of domestic violence characterizes his ability to work towards real change.

Chris will focus on stopping the cycle of abuse that affects nearly one in four women and one in seven men. He will make it a priority to fund education programs in schools that will teach kids how to handle their anger in productive ways. Carney explained, “Stopping this problem at the source is crucial to ending this cycle.”

His work to prevent domestic violence can be traced all the way back to college. While attending school he worked as an EMT where he cared for many survivors of domestic violence. This will allow him to draw upon first hand knowledge when passing laws to protect survivors.
With the authority and power granted to Congress it is extraordinarily important that members of Congress set the right example for Americans.

Pennsylvania 10th’s incumbent and Carney’s opponent, Don Sherwood, recently settled a domestic violence case out of court for $5.5 million. While cheating on his wife, he was accused of abusing his "mistress." This is a gross violation of power by someone who is supposed to set a good example for his constituents and for the country.

And the spigots have opened for Don Sherwood because they are worried about losing a supposedly safe Republican seat. From The Hill:

The final ROMP fundraiser is used for candidates in the most desperate need of campaign money. Three of the recipients trail their challengers in terms of cash on hand. Most of those who are ahead in funds have only modest leads.

The ROMP list included five incumbents, four open-seat candidates and one challenger. The other beneficiaries were Minnesota open-seat candidate Michele Bachmann; Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.); Jeff Lamberti, who is challenging Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa); Idaho open-seat candidate Bill Sali; Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.); and Iowa open-seat candidate Mike Whalen.

Sherwood stumbled through his primary with 56 percent of the vote after it was revealed that he had settled a multimillion-dollar assault-and-battery lawsuit with a former mistress. The DCCC announced recently that it was adding Sherwood’s opponent, Democrat Chris Carney, to its Red to Blue program, which aids candidates trying to unseat Republican incumbents.

ROMP was created by former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and is run by the Republican leadership.

So a battered women's group backs Carney and big money pitches in for Sherwood. Of course Sherwood can decide to open his checkbook and blow a lot of money in a losing cause or he can face reality and save his money for retirement.

Romanelli getting close

Carl Romanelli is claiming to have 60,000 signatures and expects more by the August 1st deadline to be on the ballot as the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate. I understand that they have been paying people to gather signatures and he has a little help from an unlikely friend.

TL: He'll need at least 67,072 confirmed signatures. Dictated by state law, the figure is based on 2 percent of the highest vote-getter in the last state election.
To be eligible for the ballot, Democrats and Republicans need only 2,000 votes. Romanelli called the 67,072 benchmark "an arbitrary computation" because the number has varied in past years.
"It's simply a reflection that the old parties make the rules, and they are doing everything to keep us out,' he said. "This is an impossible standard for any party to meet. … What made the Greens different this year is I stepped up and used every ounce of my 25 years of experience."

What friend would that be?

Santorum team aiding a Casey rival

In trying to earn a spot on the ballot in Pennsylvania this November, Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli has no better friend than the man he wants to topple: U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
The Republican incumbent says that everyone in state politics should help Romanelli gather the large number of voter signatures - more than 67,000 - that he needs to qualify for the Senate race. Romanelli can use all the help he can get: Pennsylvania has among the toughest requirements in the country for independent or third-party candidates to get on the ballot.
Why should Santorum aid a potential foe?

Vince Galko, his campaign manager, says it is because of his interest in free debate. "Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree that the democratic process should be open and welcoming to people of differing positions," Galko said in a letter posted on Santorum's Web site.

Free debate my ass.

The state Republican Party, in the spring GOP primary, challenged the signatures of a potential Santorum rival and drove him from the race.
But now he's seeking a commitment from Casey not to challenge Romanelli signatures if he gets enough to qualify.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Leonardi backs Barletta

I recently asked both candidates running for the 11th CD seat about their thoughts on the Hazleton immigration controversy. Paul Kanjorski has not responded yet but Dr. Joseph F. Leonardi the Republican Candidate gives us his thoughts:

I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Hazelton Mayor, Lou Barletta, for stepping up to the plate on the illegal immigration issue. He has taken the initiative at a time when others have ignored blatant violations of U.S. law, specifically those who enter this country illegally and those Americans who hire illegal aliens. Most recently, the mayor stepped up to the plate again, ensuring that Hazletonâ's police department will have additional training to properly enforce the city's new ordinance as certified immigration enforcement agents.

A section of Hazelton's new ordinance requires city business to be conducted in English only, it has provoked some critics of Mayor Barletta to use insulting and inflammatory terminology in an unjust effort to degrade his character. Their efforts, I feel, are intended to bolster their own political agenda.

There is a side benefit arising from the English only provision these same critics have failed to mention--- a benefit that will directly affect those that have legally entered our country. At a town meeting in Hazleton, as reported in one of the local newspapers "Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said English classes would be made available for everyone." It seems that Mayor Barletta's courage has sparked Luzerne County to take positive action for our hard working, deserving, legal immigrant community.

I have always been concerned about people who enter this country then choose not to learn the English language. My father, at the age of 30, in 1963, immigrated to this country from Italy. Over time, he learned his new country's language. While his proficiency wasn't such that he could have written "the great American novel," he ably functioned in society, and eventually earned his U.S. citizenship. The fact that government documents were not translated into my Dad's native tongue did not hamper his ability to earn a living, raise a family, develop his own business and exercise his right to vote.

Violation of our borders is a genuine cause for concern. It is a problem that has not been adequately addressed at any governmental level. Consequently, mayors are being forced to protect their citizens from criminal violations that compromise U.S. Sovereignty.

For this reason, since announcing my candidacy for the U.S. House last August, I am extremely outspoken on strengthening all of our borders, not just our southern border. The problems that accompany illegal immigration demand re-enforced border security. I pledge that I am, and will remain, wholeheartedly committed to this cause.

I am a strong believer in legal immigration into the United States. Obviously, had it not been for legal immigration I would not be in the position I am in now--- running for the office of U.S. Representative to represent all citizens in the Pennsylvania 11th district.

Shift change

This my first day on night shift and I'm not sure how it will affect the blog. I strive to post something everyday even if it's just a verbatim press release but I don't know if that will be possible. I have a full plate in my pre-work hours and can't surf and comment as much on my favorite blogs. It's lonely out here at 1:30AM when all my blog buddies are in bed.

Hopefully I will work out my scheduling problems. Stay tuned.

A great disturbance in the force

As I was was wandering around Wilkes-Barre today I sensed a great disturbance in the blogosphere. What could it be? It wasn't a far off planet being destroyed but something closer to home. At first I was fearful that the NSA monitoring finally resulted in my fellow lefty bloggers being sent to Gitmo. But after checking my blogroll I found out that it was much worse, Dr. Rick is back posting at The American Checkup.

Welcome back Rick! Dr. FrankenFitz' creation has been unleashed on us once again.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Update on the weird ad

First of all Rick Santorum is shown receiving an award from Pat Boone for sponsoring a bill to protect Social Security for people born before 1950. Then it goes on to plug the group's travel website. Strange combination. It turns out that Pat Boone is the front man for a group that calls itself the 60 Plus Association. Thanks to the reader who pointed this out. According to it's website the 60 Plus Association is:

.....a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues. 60 Plus has set ending the "death" tax and Saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities. 60 Plus has been described as an "anti-tax advocacy group" and an "increasingly influential lobbying group for the elderly...often viewed as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)."

Sounds good until you check them out. I found this on a Wisconsin political site What's Left:

Earlier this week Rep. Mark Green was touting an award he won from what he called a leading senior advocacy group. The group is called the "60 Plus Association". It sounded a little fishy since I had never heard of this group so I thought I'd see what this group is about.Turns out, Green's award is the equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken giving an award to the person that kills the chickens and expecting the chickens to cheer about it.The group is funded by big pharmaceutical companies so Rep. Green is getting an award for protecting the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies, not Wisconsin seniors.

But according to, a website run by the Center for Media and Democracy, there are really are no members other than the pharmaceutical companies.
The AARP Bulletin of February, 2003, has an excellent, well-researched article explaining this subversion of the democratic process by 60 Plus and two other astroturf organizations (United Seniors Association and the Senior Coalition). It notes that none of these groups have significant membership roles or community bases. "All three organizations claim to speak for millions of older Americans, although as recently as 2001 none of the three listed any revenue from membership dues on their tax returns," it states. "Moreover, an investigation by the AARP Bulletin shows that virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source - the nation's pharmaceutical industry."

From, a group run by Public Citizen:

60 Plus President Jim Martin told the British Medical Journal in 2003 that his group had 225,000 donors, whom he said he would not disclose to protect their privacy.10 But in 2002, 60 Plus received nearly $11 million (91 percent of its total revenue) from a single undisclosed donor, according to the group's Form 990 filing with the IRS.11 It is quite likely that such a large contribution came from the pharmaceutical industry. The Washington Post reported that 60 Plus was the beneficiary of an unrestricted educational grant in 2002 from PhRMA, the trade association of the brand name prescription drug industry;12 AARP Bulletin reported that 60 Plus received contributions in 2001 from PhRMA and from drug giants Pfizer, Merck and Wyeth-Ayerst.13 In the last three years, 60 Plus has relied increasingly on contributions of $5,000 or more, according to its disclosures to the IRS. The group's 2003 revenue represented a dramatic leap. Its annual revenue from 1999 to 2001 ranged from about $1.6 million to $2 million.14

Although 60 Plus bills itself as a non-partisan organization, its electioneering messages in 2002 exclusively benefited Republicans. Martin, the group's president, has long been associated with Republican politics. Among other things, the group's Web site advertises that Martin "was instrumental" in hiring George W. Bush for his first job in politics to work on the successful 1968 U.S. Senate campaign of Edward J. Gurney (R-Fla.).17

Another shadowy group that won't tell you who their donors are ala American for Job Security.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Linkety link

Has a Ukulele ever given you an ear worm? Damn you Carl and Miss C. I keep playing this:

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain plays Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

The best way to start your day is to have Pissed off Patricia mix you a Morning Martini.

It's hard to keep up with eRobin but she hit on something that I have a great deal of interest in but never blog about. Fact-esque has a run down about some recent changes at NASA.

Santorum is doing push polls and Maria at 2 Political Junkies gives us the play by play.

Crooks and Liars found a gem

Ava Lowrey, the fifteen year old video extraordinaire produced her first political ad.

It concerns the one and only–"Had Enough of Rick Santorum?"

Friday, July 21, 2006

Money, money, money

The amounts of money involved in funding political races is obscene. The Pennsylvania Progressive points out that Santorum got some money from someone tied to Jack Abramoff. I'm sure if you look at Casey's reports you will find some questionable donations. Every campaign is involved in this sort of gotcha. It just doesn't register with the rest of us.

The general perception, right or wrong, is that they are all bought and paid for. I don't what can be done about it. The law of the land is money=free speech. The practical effect is that people with a fat bank account have a louder voice than the rest of us.

Short of amending the constitution I don't know what can be done. And there are very few constitutional amendments I favor. It's worked so far so don't mess with it.

Well there is one constitutional amendment I favor.

The designator hitter rule shall not be used in the game of baseball in the United States.

Reforming Pennsylvania

Matthew Best has decided to expand his blogging duties and has a new endeavor called Courage of Conviction. I don't know how he does it all. He is doing a series of posts about the Roadmap to Reform sponsored by Democracy Rising. I plan to join in. Today he comments on the ridiculous signature requiements for third party candidates. I couldn't agree more. Why should Carl Romanelli or Russ Diamond have to get 67,000 signatures just to get on the ballot? The Democratic and Republican candidates need far less. As Matt says:

Having a level playing field for all citizens to enter the political arena makes our political discussion more about issues than about personal attacks as well. When there are more people running for the same office, each candidate needs to clearly define who they are, what they stand for, what they as needing change, and what they want to do about it. More candidates in an election allows candidates to be who they truly are, not dodging issues or speaking in some obtuse manner in order to no offend certain constituencies.

Hazleton, Barletta, Santorum and immigrants again

I'm not the only one who thinks that Hazleton's immigrant ordinance will be thrown out in court because immigration law is the purview of the federal government. Plus it opens up the people of the city to all kinds of legal actions.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Congressional researchers say they are skeptical that Hazleton's recent crackdown on illegal immigrants would survive a court challenge, asserting that the federal government has sole jurisdiction over immigration matters.

The ordinance "would very likely be found by a reviewing court to be preempted in whole or in part by federal immigration laws, just as similarly comprehensive state and local laws regulating immigration matters have been," according to the report, written by two lawyers for the research service.

But congressional researchers questioned whether businesses and landlords, worried about violating the ordinance, would discriminate against Hispanics in violation of federal employment and housing law. The report also said that states and municipalities are precluded by federal law from making determinations about immigration status.

Who would ask for such a study? No surprise here.

The research service completed its analysis on June 29, before the ordinance was approved. It was requested by U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a Democrat whose district includes Hazleton and who survived a challenge from Barletta in the fall 2002 election.

Rapid Edward weighed in on the nonsense today.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP)- "The only ones I want to hear speaking up and complaining about immigration are the Native Thursday Americans who we screwed," he told a gathering of young professionals on Thursday........"A lot of this is being pushed by politicians who absolutely want to keep your eyes away from real stuff," he said. "They feed off hate and divisiveness."

Weird ad

I just saw a weird ad featuring Rick Santorum and some game show host plugging a website called 60plus It was on CNN about 4:20PM. I wasn't paying close attention until I heard Santorum's name. I hope it is on again as I have my VCR ready. Did anyone else see it?

I just watched it again. My question is since when is it OK for a Senator to appear in an ad plugging a commercial venture? I can't wait for my friends at Santorum Blog to try to spin this.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Government of the Commonwealth

A great thing about this blog thing is when you fell like you are just yelling at the wall your online buddies pick you up. As Jane pointed out we have a great blog community going on in our corner of the world.

The one thing I have noticed in almost all the stuff I read lately is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican most of us think the government of the Commonwealth needs some improvement. And that's putting it mildly. Forget specific policies such as minimum wage, tax cuts, etc. The process is the problem. There is some hope. The pay raise thing set off a firestorm but it doesn't end there. The few people who showed up to vote in the primary threw out a bunch of long time state legislators including the top 2 guys of the Republican leadership in the state senate. Many other tribunes of the people chose to retire instead of facing the wrath of the voters. The job is not done. There are many problems with the way the state government conducts business. Lobbyist don't have to disclose how much money they spend and on who? They legalized slot machines and promised that that it will solve all our funding problems for a myriad of problems, then created 14 agencies to regulate it all. There are some technical issues in the state house that keep bills from being voted up or down.

The biggest problem with our legislature and the US House of Representatives is gerrymandering. A couple of states have taken redistricting out of the politicians hands. It will be a cold day in hell when that happens here but we can try. Why should districts be drawn to favor one person or one party over another?

My friends at Penn Patriot have some suggestions and give a list of groups all over the ideological spectrum that want some changes:

Please support these reform groups that are advocates for state government reform
Common Cause Pennsylvania
Commonwealth Foundation
League Of Women Voters
PA Citizens For Legislative Accountability
PA Council of Churches
Rock The Capita
Stop the Illegal Pay Raise, INC
Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania (YCOP)
Democracy Rising

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Do we want more development?

Keep paving the forest and the farms then wonder why there are floods.

PLAINS TWP. — Plans to improve access to Interstate 81 from State Route 115 were met with mixed reviews Tuesday when the latest plans were unveiled....The current plan has been scaled back considerably from the original proposal. The original plan was to build a connector road that would run from Route 115 to Highland Park Boulevard, through the Seven Tubs Nature Area and Earth Conservancy land. White said that proposal was eliminated because of cost and environmental concerns. Earth Conservancy Executive Director Mike Dziak said even though the previous proposal would have cost at least $36 million, it would have opened up hundreds of acres of mine-scarred land for development.....County Commissioner Steve Urban is in favor of the current plan because it leaves the tubs area alone and costs half as much as the previous proposal.“I’m happy with this proposal,” he said. Urban was not concerned about lost development opportunities.

The area that is under discussion is a couple of mountains covered in trees that is hard to get to. Leave it to the bears, deer and other animals. People will just ruin it.

Dollars and fur flying in the 10th CD race

A few years ago the Supreme Court decided that money equals speech. So that means somebody with a fat checkbook has a louder voice than the rest of us. In the last few days the Chris Carney and Don Sherwood (no campaign website)campaigns have traded accusations of tainted money and demands that it should be returned.

Carney has been whacking Sherwood for months about his fundraising. Today they responded with quite a reach. TL:

Friends of Don Sherwood said that Carney has accepted $7,500 from the political action committee of Chicago Congressman and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, who the group said has been mentioned in federal documents as a recipient of illegal contributions in the Chicago Hired Truck Program scandal....Friends for Don Sherwood also said Carney accepted $5,000 from The National Leadership PAC of New York City Congressman Charles Rangel. The group said Rangel has accepted $47,000 from two groups who are clients of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in January.

Well if you want to talk about Jack Abramoff or maybe Duke Cunningham or you wonder why gas prices are crazy how about this . From an email:

Clarks Summit, PA-Since he went to Washington, Don Sherwood has accepted over $15,000 from Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham. Duke Cunningham has resigned from Congress in disgrace and plead guilty to felony charges of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. Tom DeLay has been indicted on felony charges for money laundering."Don Sherwood has accepted money from people who have gone to jail and are going to jail," said Carney campaign manager Andrew Eldredge-Martin. "One of Sherwood's donors is in jail for bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion, and the other is facing felony charges for money laundering.""Sherwood has also accepted over $58,000 from big oil, gas, and energy companies, while we have to pay $3 per gallon for gas.

And all the stories about this race end with something like this:

In November, the married congressman agreed to a confidential settlement of a $5.5 million assault and battery lawsuit filed by Cynthia Ore. Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock, admitted to having a five-year affair with Ore, but denied beating her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cooler heads

Our local County commissioner Greg Skepnak went out and listened to people:

Government officials say Sunday’s session in Hazleton “the best,” of great value.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty thinks it's bullshit:

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty will not follow Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta’s lead in signing a controversial ordinance that makes it harder for illegal immigrants to work and live in the Luzerne County city.

"I am totally against everything that Lou Barletta is doing," Mr. Doherty said Monday.... "We, in Scranton, will never do what he’s done because my philosophy is one of welcoming people and we need to help people."

Barletta is fast becoming both a hero and a joke.

Update: Viewers of the Pennsylvania Cable Network will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on illegal immigration tonight at 7 when Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta appears on the network’s Call-In Program.

Viewers can dial toll-free at 1-877-PA6-5001 to participate in the hour-long program. Callers may comment on or ask questions about the City of Hazleton’s recently passed illegal immigration ordinance, which Barletta proposed. The new law, which will take effect in about two months, will fine businesses that “aid and abet” illegal immigrants, forbid landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and make English the city’s official language.

Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the US

This is getting way out of hand and there is only one country that can end it, the United States. This is way off topic for this blog but I have spent time in the middle east and it gets to me everytime something like this happens. You will not find a bigger supporter of Israel than me. But in this latest action they have gone way overboard. The government of Lebanon in the last year or so has just kicked out the Syrians and are trying to get control of the country. Now the Israelis have blown up everything in sight. The next target is Syria and they deserve it. But it's not a good idea to expand this war.

I hate to make predictions but I think the Israelis will attack Syria and the US will use it as cover to bomb Iran. I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Barletta, Hazleton and immigrants

So Lou Barletta got his ordinance passed. Kick out all the Mexicans and that will solve all our problems. No more Mexicans means no more crime because only illegal immigrants commit crime. Come to Wilkes-Barre pal. The surprise of all this so called controversy is that Santorum's campaign is behind it as Danny points out.

How are you going to enforce this law? When the federal government won't enforce the laws on the books there is not much a little town in PA can do. Hazleton is looking at endless litigation and they are asking people to be immigration cops. This whole thing is a great election year tactic. I don't know what Barletta is running for but we know that Ricky is in danger of losing his seat.

What do our other area bloggers think of this? Tom at Things at King's points out the absurdity of it all. And he reminds us of what Jesus would do. Mark has an opposing view as does Tara.

Michelle said "eat my ass":

And Mayor Lou is a media darling:

Gatorade and corporate welfare

It seems like every company that can't outsource their production plays one little town off another. Sure we will build here if you don't want us to pay taxes. They already have a bottling plant and want to expand it. It should be an economic decision and it is. They are going to expand the bottling plant because the market is there but they were able to ditch some property taxes by threatening to do it elsewhere. Me and you will pay the difference.

CV: Under the terms of the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance plan, the county would waive an estimated $52,741 in annual property taxes per year between 2010 and 2016. Crestwood School District and Wright Township officials already have granted preliminary approval for the tax forgiveness.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Yankees

And the Phillies stink. The Red Sox are still in first place but there is a lot of baseball to be played. I listened to John Sterling and Susan Waldman call the Yankmee and White Sox game today on the radio. It would be nice if they could pronounce the players names right. It's not Jim Toe-may. Jim didn't change his name. It's Toe-mee! That annoys me almost as much when Wilkes-Barre is mispronounced. It's berry, not bererrhhhhh. Ask Barre in Vermont and the one in Massachusetts.

This work thing is screwing up the summer again

I'll be back to politics soon. What is the point of working all of your life if you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor while you are fit enough to enjoy it? I remember seeing things on TV when I was a kid promising a less labor intensive future saying we will all have more free time. As far as I can tell people are working more hours than ever before. Maybe there should be a way to take off some time when you are 35-45. At 35 hopefully you have learned some of lifes lessons and when you get to 45 you realize your physical skills are not what they used to be. When I was younger I was a work-a-holic and I always found myself in a constant dilemma. When I had some money to enjoy myself I didn't have the time, when I had the time I didn't have the money. Things haven't changed much. So what is the alternative? When I check my email I get a lot of offers. I can work at home if I buy a few thousand dollars of supplies. A very nice man from Nigeria told me a heart wrenching story about his father dying and requested my help retrieving the family fortune. Apparently I have won several lotteries and I only have to forward the taxes to claim such fortunes. And I play the PA lottery. I guess I'm going to work tomorrow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Around the neighborhood

I'm blasting some David Bowie I bought at the beach, Warren Zevon is next, and I'm cruising my blogger friends. Danny is back. He had an argument with a TL columinst recently which was fun. His place is hints, allegations and things left unsaid. Someone accused Mark of something he didn't do. Another Monkey is fixing his house. Jane gives you another reason not to vote for Rick. My friend Randy gives us common cause when he points out how stupid the state government is: PennPatriot. Common sense about the deficit has Jennifer talking. Forget about checking the papers of somebody who looks different when you can fry them, Carl has the details. LVDem tackles sprawl, a problem that almost no one notices. Pave more farms, build more Wal-Marts and then watch the storm water flood your house. Dr. Tara took 47 examinations to be qualified to be a Pharmacist, so go say congrats. She pointed out that Hugo had a letter published.

And then there is Bernie's driveway.

The Dog's vacation went well

Back in Wilkes-Barre after a too short of a week in Rehoboth. Me and Mrs. G both read a good book, played in the waves and just chilled out. Our ridiculous retriever had lots of fun. 3,4 or 5 walks a day to chase ducks at Lake Gerar and he was the hit of the Avenue. If you like dogs, Goldens are hard to resist. So what did I miss?

My inbox is swamped and my spam filter is overloaded. I'm just going to go down the list. Joe Leonardi got some good press. In the other Congressional race close to my heart Chris Carney has some momentum. He has raised a bunch of money and the national party is paying attention. There is some sort of controversy going on in the race that I haven't had time to check-out yet. It has something to do with the fact that 'stroke em and choke em' Don Sherwood followed his marching orders and voted for a war that has killed and maimed thousands of our countrymen and there is no end in sight. I guess when someone points out that the stupid bastard can't think for himself he gets huffy. In the Senate campaign our beloved junior senator, Rick Santorondog (R-VA), has raised a gazillion dollars which I'm sure he spend to tell you that Bob Casey is a devil worshipper or worse. Casey has also raised crazy amounts of money. I guess this is what it comes down to, who ever can whore themselves out to who ever wants a favor in Washington. But I will still take Casey's pimps over Ricky's. In the Hazelton immigrant thing I was shocked that Santorum's people had anything to do with it. Just a thanks to Lou Barletta, while I was away he got his face on the national news again and five hundred people hit this site by searching for his name. Maybe I should put ads on the site? I'll give him a commission.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Off to the beach

See you in a week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Russ Diamond

Russ has been very approachable. I recently asked him a question.

Why run for governor? It's a long shot and you may not even make the ballot. I don't know the ins and outs of the area you live in but it seems to me you would have a better chance ofbeing elected to to the state house or senate. Less signatures needed, focus your people and money, etc. Your thoughts?


Everything that Pennsylvania voters have accomplished over the last year was a long shot. Keeping the outrage alive, ousting a Supreme Court Justice, getting the pay raise repealed, all the candidates we raised, and of course, the victories in the primary. Making the ballot despite the high hurdle is just the next step. Others have suggested that I run for a legislative seat, and if I were angling for a career in government, that might be a consideration. But I'd rather serve for one term in the best capacity possible, and then go back home. I would make a much better 'check and balance' to the legislature than to be buried within it. And practically speaking, I'm quite sure there aren't too many legislators eager to welcome the person who started PACleanSweep into their exclusive club! The culture of Harrisburg is what's really wrong in Pennsylvania, and a strong Governor - using his veto power - can focus public attention on bad policy and any circumvention of the Constitution. An Independent Governor would be in a position to bridge the gap betweenRepublicans and Democrats in Harrisburg and fight for the highest standards of integrity in the nation. By serving only one term, I'll remain independent, beholden only to the people of Pennsylvania. I don't put a lot of credence in political labels, but I consider myself a supporter of limited government and lower taxes. This is the only way to turn Pennsylvania around. We've tried it the other way. It hasn't worked. And frankly, we can't afford it. The things we need to address in Pennsylvania - real reform, property taxes, the gambling question, government growth, the looming pension crisis, education and health care - can all be addressed in a serious manner if elected officials just stop putting a higher priority on the next election cycle.The likelihood of business-as-usual continuing in Harrisburg under both Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann is high. Pennsylvanians deserve better than that. If you have any other questions, just let me know - thanks!


PS: I live in Lebanon County, where Brightbill & Zug were defeated. My own rep voted against the pay raise and won her primary 70-30.


Regular commenter Pope George Ringo on Hillary:

No doubt Sen. Joe Lieberman is a good man--a middle road Democrat who was so embraced by his party that he was its VP standard bearer in 2000. Now, six short years later, in the eyes of his fellow Democrats he is about as popular as GW Bush (some would even give W the edge). All of this can be traced to one thing of course; the Senator's support of the Bush Administration via the Iraq war. Icing on the top of Lieberman's cake of discontent would most certainly be his name being dropped as a replacement for Don Rumsfeld (should Rummy ever decide to go, that is).

Now, the good Senator is in a primary battle for his political life against Ned Lamont a cable co executive--who is opposed to the Iraq war. Whatever the end result of Lieberman's primary, the horns are sounding to bring down the walls of security for one Democrat who is just a little "too" secure--Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton should take Liebermans plight as sage advice: if you endorse Iraq watch out for your base constituency. Democrats don't give a damn about "who" you were or pretend to be; what they do care about is putting up candidates that (right or wrong) oppose Bush 100% of the time.

Hillary is a potential victim of one of politics deadliest sins, the sin of overconfidence. Name me ONE candidate who expressed sheer overconfidence who went on the an election victory (with the exception of Ronald Reagan, who could have defeated Jesus Christ himself in 80 or 84). Overconfidence weakens a candidates foundation and allows his opponents to build upon their own.

Too many political hacks (at one time His Holiness included) assumed that the nominee in 08 would be Mrs. Clinton. But we weren't counting on her running a General election campaign in the Spring and Summer of 2006. She has been heckled at commencement addresses by those who once adored her; she is tied to a policy that would now at this stage be very difficult for her to withdraw from--she speaks of fighting the good fight and has done the silly dance to the tune of "Let us Protect our Flag!" (as if anyone is in fact attacking it).
What Hillary seems to be forgetting is that there "is" much to be protected in our country: low wage workers, those who have no work at all; those who have enormous health care costs, those who have no health care at all; the list goes on and on and yet, in her mind the General Election is on.

All the while, the one who many on the left feel was robbed of a Presidency, Al Gore, has sprung up again. His environmental/ lecture film is doing quite well for a documentary--think about it--a lecture on film by AL Gore is making money (this should scare the Hell out of the Republicans and Hillary). He is appearing on talk shows and is much more likeable now that he is free of "handlers". One would have to harken back to 1967 for a similar situation. Dick Nixon popped up out of nowhere from his Law Practice in NY to appear at various Republican functions. He didn't have a movie, but the appearance on Laugh IN made for some great inroads amongst the middle road voters just as Mr. Gore's recent Saturday Night Live appearance has.

Of course, a Gore run would depend on several outcomes; Whether Mrs. Clinton ceases her General Election flag waving routine, whether the war situation improves, and most importantly the result of Sen. Liebermans primary race. Should Lieberman lose or win by a slim margin--this can serve as a signal to Mrs. Clinton to get her act together. It is common knowledge that Republicans are more forgiving of those who lose in their party--Democrats on the other hand are quite viscous about it--and one thing Democrats do not want (whether Politically wise or stupid) is to nominate a Pro War candidate for President. Many people will be tuning in to see the primary results--Al Gore will be one of them--whether Hillary does or does not may very well be the deciding factor in her future as a Presidential Nominee.

NOTE: I just watched the Hardball debate between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. When Joe wasn't calling his opponent a far lefty or a Republican (which is it?) his only defense to the principled arguements his opponent presented was he brings home the pork. Aren't we all tired of politicians bragging about things they should do anyway?

Chris Carney update

10th Congressional District candidate Chris Carney will be in Wilkes-Barre tomorrow for a shindig at SLÃINTE! Formally the Murry Inn. It's being hosted by Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, Scranton Mayor Christopher Doherty& Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo. It was postponed from June 28th when our local officials had more pressing matters to deal with. If you're interested in going the details are here.

Carney's fundraising has been strong, from an email:

"We will report over $290,000 cash-on-hand and over $170,000 raised in the last 21 days of the quarter," said Carney campaign manager Andrew Eldredge-Martin.
"This huge surge in fundraising, from both republican and democratic sources, proves that the 10th District is ready for a Congressman who will represent our values and our interests in Washington," said campaign Republican Co-Chair Susan S. Belin of Waverly, PA.
"Chris Carney will fight to solve our healthcare crisis and high gas prices, and he will always stand up for our troops and our veterans," said campaign Democratic Co-Chair Marvin Rudnitsky of Selinsgrove, PA. "Chris Carney will take our values to Washington and fight for our families and for our future."

When I talk to people up north the one word I hear about Don Sherwood is "disgust." That comes from both sides. Every news story about Sherwood ends with he settled a $5 million dollar lawsuit with a 29 year old mistress.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What does it mean today?

Checking out my blogroll today I came across at least 8 posts about the Declaration of Independence. As I celebrate our nations birthday here in my little corner of Wilkes-Barre, PA by BBQing some steaks and enjoying my neighbors fireworks it's great to be reminded of what a blessing it is to be a free people. Not that a few improvements couldn't be made as my fellow bloggers point out.

Next Direction dissects the document and points out "some eerie similarities between then and now." Carl at Simply Left Behind has some questions and advice. Another Monkey points out the contradictions. To celebrate the meaning visit PSoTD. Bernie takes it local at Lehigh Valley Ramblings. Big Fat Slob points out that the vote to throw out the British was taken on July 2, 1776. Plus we had a discussion about beer. The PA Lady came out of our recent adventure with mother nature high and dry. And she does the math. I think Mark says it best at Wilkes-Barre Online:

Today is the 4th of July, so I suppose I'm expected to pen something inspirational, something profound about the birth of our nation and all that goes with it's inherent freedoms and suchlike.

Let's just suffice it to say that I like living here and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy 4th

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Domestic post

We are coming up on a vacation soon and Mrs. G made her list of things we need. Then she insisted that the only place we could obtain these items was at the Peoples Republic of China-Retail Division a.k.a. Wal-Mart located in Pittston, Pa. for now. They are building a super store close by that will rival the one in the east end of Wilkes-Barre. The only thing I bought was a bag of charcoal that I later discovered cost less at our local supermarket. So much for low prices all the time.

Thanks to Miss Cellania for the illustration.

Above Average Jane got us in the newspaper

A few months ago Above Average Jane challeneged bloggers in PA to state "our part of the bargain." She is an instigator who earlier asked us to write about faith in politics (along with LVDem). Today the Philadelphia Inquirer noticed. Even my reference to Edmund Burke was cited.

The whole discussion:

As promised, here are links to other blogger's views on our part of the bargain (my view is here). Updated as needed. Thanks to all who wrote. The response has been great. Matthew Best at PennPatriot Liberal Doomsayer Ellen at The Sam and Becky Boo Show Next Direction Trace 2000 Save Ardmore Coalition (comment on Philly Future) The Smedley Log Gort42 dragonballyeee Robin at Factesque Phillyville Chris Satullo's column in the Inquirer (not a part of this effort but at least partly on the topic nonetheless). PSOTD thinks voters should be rated. Susie of The Suburban Guerilla recommends we read a book. For further reading Carl suggests we all check out Rousseau on the social contract (wiki info here)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Some good news

The Beach Boys concert and traditional 4th of July fireworks featuring the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic have been called off because Kirby Park got flooded but the long awaited Wilkes-Barre movie theater is up and running. They decided to skip the ribbon cutting grand opening Thursday because our local officials had more pressing things to deal with.

Hopefully the movie theater will act as business magnet similar to the Arena project in W-B Twp. I know it won't produce a boom on that scale and it shouldn't. The big national retailers are probably not interested in investing in a downtown location so it's up to small business. And small businesses are taking the chance. Over the last year several new ventures have either opened or are planning to soon. Including a book store in the Woolworth building, a dance club, comedy club, upscale billiard hall and several bars and restaurants.

Wilkes-Barre Movies 14

So if you want to see a movie in a state of the art facility you don't have to wander up to Moosic anymore. The grand opening was timed to coincide with the release of Superman Returns which is the story of an illegal immigrant who assimilates and becomes the champion of Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Thanks to Mark for the pic. He has a slide show running on his home page that documents the whole project.

Luzerne County declared disaster area

WILKES-BARRE-Late Friday, they received encouraging news — some help is on the way.A press release issued by the White House office of the press secretary at around 6:45 p.m. announced that President Bush declared a major disaster exists in Pennsylvania, freeing federal money available for eligible local governments in eight counties, including Luzerne.

The news came after the area’s elected officials strongly urged the president to declare a federal emergency in Pennsylvania. U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum, both R-Pa., co-wrote a letter to Bush on Thursday. So did U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke. U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock Township, wrote to the White House and spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency director R. David Paulison. Gov. Ed Rendell also had a phone conversation with the president.

Hats off to all of our elected officials for working together during this emergency. This what government is supposed to do. We can give credit to President Clinton for making improvements to the levee system a priority after he saw the damage that 1996 flood caused. The Congress provided most of the money for the project and the state and county governments provided their share of the funding. The Army Corps of Engineers designed and built a flood control system that in this case probably saved us from billions in damage and some loss of life.

However, not everyone escaped the waters rath. The last I heard at least a 1,000 homes were damaged in Luzerne County alone. Now it's the government's job to help those affected to clean up the mess. Some aid has been approved but much more will be dependent on filling out the FEMA paperwork on time:

Friday’s declaration of federal emergency is limited in its scope. It will provide those eight counties .... for clearing debris and providing emergency services. It will not provide aid to homeowners and businesses affected by the flood. A declaration of that variety could be made on Monday. FEMA officials are expected to arrive after the weekend to survey the damage in the area. Before their arrival, government leaders throughout Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities will have to complete the monumental task of assessing the property damage in their communities.

To receive federal aid, each town will need to hand a damage assessment into the county EMA by 2 p.m. Sunday. County officials will combine all that data into one report, which they will give to FEMA officials on Monday, Bekanich said. FEMA could then immediately approve the county for federal aid or its officials could do a “windshield survey,” in which county officials would drive them to the worst hit areas. The tight schedule will put pressure on local governments to catalog enough property damage to qualify for federal aid.

If FEMA gives it's blessing people will get an 800 number to call and more paperwork to fill out.