Sunday, December 31, 2006
The year in review-2006
Doing this internet thing has brought more friends and no matter what your point of view I respect your opinion and your right to say what's on your mind. We may disagree but I've never got into a pissing contest with another blogger unlike what goes on with the big boys. I reserve my name calling for politicians.
In politics the highlight of the year for me was Chris Carney winning the 10th Congressional District and the Democrats taking back the House and Senate. The re-election of Rapid Edward was never in doubt as the state GOP forced out more capable candidates such as Jim Panyard and Bill Scranton. After Number 88 was nominated he could have went to Bermuda for the fall and still won by 10 points. Our immigrant from Virginia was sent packing by Boring Bob and Carl Romanelli provided some drama with his quest to make the ballot. As Ozzie said, I'd sell my soul for rock n'roll but not a ballot spot. After the payraise bru-ha-ha many of our state legislators retired or were defeated in the primary. But the games continue over who will be speaker. The PA legislature is the most disfunctional governing body I've ever seen. Maybe Russ Diamond had the right idea.
In Luzerne County three flooding events and a tornado overshadowed all the other news. Hugo Selenski was found not guilty of murder but convicted of abusing a corpse. Bush and Cheney came to the area to raise money for the Tunkhannock Strangler. Pocono Downs got slot machines and all our money worries are over. The Yankees replaced the Phillies as our AAA baseball team that resulted in the jackasses that run Lackawanna County coming up smelling like roses.
To my blog buddies, Thank you. I didn't even try to list you all as I'm sure I would omit someone.
On to 2007!
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Well the big day has come and gone and I'm late as usual. National Drunk Blogging Day will sure to become an annual event that promises to become bigger as the years pass.
I stopped off at my local pub to get warmed up and brought home Dick Yuengling to help me out in this endeavor.
Now the challenge is what to write about something without it deteriorating into a drunken, suicidal rage involving hookers, inflatable party sheep and power tools with mayonnaise and Kaopectate splattered all over the keyboard at the end.
I think I should cover some things other than local politics.
A friend is trying to quit smoking and violated the first rule, he told people he was giving up smoking. So everytime he backslides and gives into the temptation of the evil weed he is subjected to a torrent of abuse from smokers and nons alike. I encourage him by reminding him that it's easy to quit smoking, I've done it five or six times. I also haven't sniffed glue in years but nobody gives me any credit.
Dental floss is now being sold in round containers. This strikes at the very heart of modern civilization and tradition. I know you get the freebee at the Dentist is in a blue square device but the commercial product is being packaged differently.
I just disturbed the dog and made him come downstairs because of our need for animal company. The cat is hiding under the Christmas tree and is out of reach unless I want to suffer various bleeding wounds then to have him go hide somewhere out of reach.
Note: Blogger will not let me post pictures right now and it's pissing me off. I hope blogger beta doesn't have these problems. I should really move to another platform.
Zip codes. Everybody is talking about zip-codes, I don't know why.
There were a bunch of Bowl Games on today and a bunch more over the weekend and I hope to catch as many as I can. The game I want to see is South Carolina vs. Oregan State. If Carolina wins the headline could be Game 'cocks stick it to the Beavers.
New Years Day has PSU playing Tennessee which has caused much consternation in the Gort household. And the Eagles will wrap it up and win the division on Sunday. They're hot.
Now hairy bats are appearing on the floor. The only way to kill them is to get on the floor with a metal edged ruler and chop the wings off.
This may be all for nought. As it's been pointed out to me that everyday is...........
Drunk Blogging Day
Friday, December 29, 2006
Hazleton tweeks the illegal immigrant ordinance
Lou Barletta made another change to his legal nightmare. It will never be enforced so why not just cut your losses. The Senate race is over and your famous Lou, move on. If your not elected to a higher office you can go to work for Lou Dobbs or Pat Buchanan. And the Minutemen are looking for recruits.
Hugo is writing letters again
A reader recently asked me did/do you know anyone who knew Hugo personally....just a bit of morbid curiosity on my part?
I know the cop that arrested him for DUI . One of his cousins is a co-worker and good friend. And I know one of his pen pals. Hugo writes a lot of letters but she won't let me see them.
Now the TL is teasing us with a letter they received from Selenski saying they will publish it January 2nd. But they give us some choice quotes.
“You consistently walk into trials grossly unprepared and it would only seem fitting of you to try and prevent your opponent from proper preparation.”-
Hugo Selenski Referring to District Attorney David Lupas in a letter.
I guess the TL is sitting on the whole thing waiting for a slow news day.
That's the ticket
Thursday, December 28, 2006
A little link love from the Looneys in Lehigh
First Lehigh Valley Ramblings put up a poll to decide which was the best "Humorous Christmas Parody" post but left off the the Mean One's because he knew his weak entry couldn't stand up to it. Then he and Musings from Mudville declared a winner before all the ballots were counted just like Florida in 2000! And the winner wasn't even on the ballot.
That Mad Batter guy did an around the blogosphere post because he misses John Micek that mentions many of our little group but didn't provide links. That scary woman he lives with named me one her Top Ten Blogs of 2006. The craziest holiday story I have read is her's I Kicked Grandma out of my house on Christmas!
As far as can tell they all got a head start on National Drunk Blogging Day.
BTW, This is how you do links.
Who's running for President?
John Edwards has announced that he plans to announce he is running for President. On YouTube no less. He talks about getting out of Iraq and ending poverty. Both worthy goals.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
President Ford died
Through a series of incredible events Jerry Ford became President of the United States. Proving the old adage that anyone can become President. Unfortunately, we have been suffering through the last six years of that becoming true.
Backbones bolt as re-election time nears RENITA FENNICK OPINION
The underlying theme is that they’d rather ignore their convictions in order to get re-elected.
Maybe it’s too late to ask Santa for more candidates who have a little gumption.
But, it’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution and vow to vote only for men and women who will do what they believe is the right thing, even if it hurts their chances for re-election.
We elect these people to make financial decisions. If they think it's a good idea say so and defend your position. Don't hide behind a referendum.
Mario Fiorucci for Luzerne County Commissioner
Thanks for the press about my race for mayor in Sugar Notch. I might have beaten the bad man if a crusader councilman didn't try to win with a write-in campaign. It caused us both to lose. The mayor who resigned in disgrace won with 76 votes, then the councilman with 68 and me, the Green Party candidate, Mario Fiorucci, with 57. History has eluded us again.
He hosts an annual State of the World Forum in his Sugar Notch back yard that somehow I was never invited. Some horrendous oversite that I'm sure will be corrected.
The TL covered his announcement but not the Commissioners Voice. The word has gone forth from our local Democratic overlords that the choice in this race is incumbent Greg Skrepenak and Controller Maryanne Petrilla. But being the contrarian that I am I don't accept that. I'm sure there will be more people getting into this race even as much as Skrep and his stooge try to discourage them.
Mario has a website up with the creative name of Mario Fiorucci for County Commissioner.
Here is his announcement:
Fiorucci to run in primary for County Commissioner
A long time Democrat before becoming a Green in 2000, Fiorucci said he will run for County Commissioner in the 2007 primary as a Democrat.
"After seeing what happened to Romanelli in his bid as a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, getting the signatures required to run as an Independent is just too risky," said Fiorucci.
Mario Fiorucci earned an MA in government from Georgetown University in 1982. He had graduated with honors from College Misericordia in 1980. He returned to the area after working in the brokerage business from 1983 to 1995. His interest in regionalization and Home Rule government started with articles he wrote for his free public interest newsletter.
In 2005, Fiorucci was a candidate for mayor of Sugar Notch. The race was widely covered by the press and local TV news. More recently, Fiorucci has assessed the skills and management capabilities of local elected officials in various municipalities. Then in a 2006, PBS State of Pennsylvania forum, titled "Small town mayors, Big city challenges," he engaged the panel in a discussion of his theory that "without significant regionalization or consolidation among municipalities, a community college-based program of continuing education for elected officials should be established."
In response, the mayor of Sunbury concurred by stating that "as its’ been alluded to here, it (management by part-time elected officials) just doesn't work." The mayor of Kingston also said "a professional manager is necessary to solve the problem."
In assessing major county related issues, Fiorucci thinks the proposed $100 million prison proposal should be put on the ballot as a bond funding vote. He would also consider private prison management in an effort to control costs and pay down prison issued debt.
Regarding regionalization, Fiorucci wrote widely about establishing ‘Tax-Base Sharing’ programs among all municipalities. He also thinks that "Municipal Service Districts"should be enacted to create 'functional consolidation' among municipalities. A MunicipalService District would consist of five or more contiguous towns that have a combined population of more than 20,000.
Past articles or letters to the editor by Fiorucci can be found on Google by searching for:"Mario Fiorucci, Sugar Notch." He can also be reached at (570)-819-0721.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
NaDruBloDa and I'm it
Here it goes.
1. Grab the book closest to you. Got it.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence. Great, I only had to use one of my pocket calculators.
3. Post the text of next three sentences on your blog.
Kasper N 333 Olive St
4. Name the book and the author. The phone book by Verizon.
5. Tag three people. Another Monkey Above Average Jane Dr. Rick
This is the Official Site for National Drunk Blogging Day.The date has been set for Friday, December 29. ....The rules are this: Start drinking.Start writing . No regrets. Designated readers, please identify yourself so we won't be impressed with your coherence when we assume you're writing under the influence.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Holiday greetings from the mean one
CHRISTMAS ISN’T ABOUT SANTA!!!
By Mean Old Man
I want to thank the Commie Gort for allowing me to write about our most sacred holiday commemorating the birth of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ—not that the majority of Reds who read this rag even care or know who Jesus is!! I’m angrier than Donald Trump at a Rosie O’Donnell pig roast over the way the Commies have taken Jesus out of Christmas and replaced him with the subversive figure called Santa Claus!!!
Back in my day when my old man would get home from a fifteen hour day in the mines you were lucky to have a piece of cardboard to fill in the holes in your shoes—and it was great!! One day around Christmastime my old man was sitting on his trusty hard wood chair (not the prissy lazy boys that you have today) and I asked him about Santa. All the other kids at school were talking ‘bout how Santa was going to give them a sled, a fishing pole, a dog or something great like that; all I wanted was a baseball glove. So I asked Dad if he would help me write a letter to Santa and he told me that Santa was made up by the Commies and the Jews to take attention away from Jesus—and that if I ever mentioned the name Santa in our house again that he would give me a shiner for Christmas!!! To top it all off he popped me one in the left eye for good measure—and I loved it!!!!
And then there’s the toy of the year; yeah, we all know that one. The Commies started that one in the early eighties with the Cabbage Patch dolls. Every sucker had to have one so they started rioting all over the country---the ol’ Commie trick of divide and conquer! DAMN!!!! The other day my Soviet admiring son Chip asked me and Thelma Jean to wait in a line at Best Buy to pick up a Wii computer gizmo—after I asked him what the Hell a Wii was and he explained, I still didn’t get it—I ended up telling Joe Stalin Jr. that if he wanted to get his sissy kid some Bolshevik toy that he had better damned well do it himself!!!! In my day we waited in line at Christmas too—but we waited for food—and you were lucky if you walked away with a couple cans of beans---and you would hold your stomach when you lay in bed hoping that when it growled from hunger that Dad wouldn’t wake up and smack your face—which he usually ended up doing anyway—but I loved it!!!!!!
You kids have it too good today—what with your credit cards and your computer gizmos cell phones and giant TV’s—I still have my old Philco black and white and it was made in the ol’ US of A and it still runs like a top—not like the crap that some six year old makes in Honduras—at least those kids work—not like the little panty wastes in our country.
Well, all you anarchists have a good Christmas—just remember to put your hammer and sickle ornament on top of the tree!! As for me, I’m gonna sit in my trusty wooden chair and admire the Christian angel on top of the CHRISTMAS tree while popping open a Steg, puttin’ some Guy Lombardo Christmas Music on the victrola and waiting for Thelma Jean’s wild goose to come a callin’ me to the kitchen table
May all the Bloggers have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year---do someone a good turn once in a while and remember, I HATE YOU ALL!!!!!!
I've never set foot in the mean one's household out of fear for my safety but somehow Miss Cellania was invited to Christmas dinner at his place last year and sent this pic.
Here are some links to other touching holiday themed stories:
Republicans to ask Jesus to run for President in 2008
Latest Victim of Global Warming - Santa Claus
The Bond brothers strike again
Then they drop this bombshell.
$193M county capital plan issued
If a plan released Thursday holds true, Luzerne County Commissioners Todd Vonderheid and Greg Skrepenak plan to borrow and spend $14 million for several capital projects during 2007 -- their final year in office together.
The last time I checked the county had over $125 million in debt obligations. You have to pay it back at some point but how will you do it if you take even more properties off the tax rolls.
Barletta vs. Santa
It is truly our honor to welcome you as a guest to our city today, in the most promising of times. We are sure that you will find this web site to be symbolic of our dedication to making every effort possible to ensure Hazleton realizes its fullest potential as a place unwelcoming to illegal foreign workers. We hope you will agree with us that Santa Claus is out of touch with mainstream American moral values, and has no place in a town such as ours.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Mixed use development
Study: Condos will help pay for proposed museum
American Indian museum on hold
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Get this man an abacus and a calendar
Or make him watch Sesame Street so he can learn to count to 10.
TL: A proposal to increase Luzerne County row officer salaries has officially died – for real.
Commissioner Todd Vonderheid said Tuesday that he didn’t realize that he could not count the day of the required public meeting – Dec. 29 – as part of the mandatory 10-day public notice.
He announced on Monday that he would get the meeting notice published Wednesday but said he learned Tuesday that it would be a day too late.
“It’s too bad,” said Vonderheid, who said he had freedom to spearhead the raises because he’s not seeking re-election in 2007.
So they couldn't put it to a referendum then announced a public meeting to do what they were elected to do. Make financial decisions. Then a convenient mistiming of the announcement of the meeting gets them off the hook on voting to raise their own pay.
No wonder things never add up.
Luzerne County will have to keep pumping $5 million to $6 million into the employee pension fund annually for several more years, the fund’s actuary said Tuesday. The gap is around $34.1 million as of the start of 2006, the Hay Group’s Hank Stiehl said Tuesday in an update for the county Retirement Board that oversees the fund.
Another candidate has announced his intention to run for commissioner.
SUGAR NOTCH – A longtime Democrat before joining the Green Party in 2000, Mario Fiorucci said he will run for Luzerne County commissioner in 2007 as a Democrat.
“I can’t run as an independent,” he said. “It takes to much ground work and getting the signatures to run as an independent is just too risky.”
Carl Romanelli proved that the challenge of getting signatures will make you do things you're not proud of later.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Hugo coming home
Judge orders Selenski transfered back
Hugo Selenski is on his way back to Luzerne County Correctional Facility — the scene of his daring fifth-floor escape from his maximum security cell more than three years ago.
Judge Chester Muroski ordered the transfer because the defense argued that the state prison doesn't honor the attorney-client privilege. He will be isolated from the other inmates because of fears for his safety. When he was at Chase a prison guard I know told me he was something of a celebrity even signing autographs. The trial was originally scheduled for January but has been postponed. The escape charges are still up in the air because the DA didn't file the paperwork on time. Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas wants to keep Hugo and other accused criminals from giving interviews to the local papers and the defense team wants all charges dismissed.
Now it looks like DA David Lupas will be running for the new Judge position and the primary will happen before the trial. What great theater it will be if he is nominated and the trial happens during the summer.
On a related note the warden is planning to bring home some other prisoners.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Blue Cross of NEPA
Blue Cross of NEPA has been sitting on a pile of money for the last few years and decided this week to give some of it to help fund the local health care system. While that is commendable the rate payers are up in arms about it and I can't blame them. The whole idea of insurance is to pool the risk and spread it out. Not to have the insurance company decide to give away your premiums to a purpose (although worthy) it wasn't intended. I read a story today that Denise Cesare the CEO of the local Blue who makes more than you and I ever will said if they used the money for rebates it would amount to "only" 200+ dollars per subsciber. I got news for you Lady. Two hundred bucks would be welcomed in most households.
What's you zip code?
Chris Carney update
A bit of a disapointment that he didn't get a seat on the House Appropriations Committee as promised bt Jack Murtha. I'm sure Steny Hoyer wasn't about to reward someone who voted for his opponent for Majority Leader. But he thinks he will get it in the future.
CV: “The seat will come to the 10th (Congressional) District when the next slot opens up,” he said. But he’s pleased with his appointment to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, his second choice, he said. “I think getting T and I was a huge coup and great for the district,” Mr. Carney, D-Dimock Township, said. Mr. Carney said he is also expecting to be named to either the Armed Services or Homeland Security committees.
Armed Services seems a natural for him. He was also on The Colbert Report. You can see the clip on ifilm: Know a District: In Your Face, Pelosi.
Meanwhile the sharks are circling even bfore he is sworn-in. In addition to Joe Peters, two other republicans are thinking about running in 2008. State Rep. Steven W. Cappelli, the former Williamsport mayor and David Madeira the runner-up in the 20th Senatorial District primary. Madeira is also thought of as a potential Luzerne County commissioner candidate.
Speaking of swearing-in. I received this invitation:
Once again, Thank You for all that you did to support my campaign. In recognition of those efforts I am honored to invite you to join me, my family and my staff for the official swearing in ceremony on January 4th in Washington D.C. This moment truly belongs to all of you so please come and share it with us if you are able.Wishing you and your family a healthy and joyous holiday season and a happy new year!
Congressman-Elect Christopher P. Carney
The last time I was invited to Washington was in 1977 for Jimmy Carter's innauguration. I just might try to make it.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Get it right people. Just ask the people in Vermont.
I've been in downtown twice this week and what a joy. I got a lot of my christmas shopping done without having to run over anyone or be trampled on. I hit Boscovs, Gallery of Sound, the new book store (Barnes and Noble) and a few other places.
There is just a different feel to the area. In the past the only time I wandered down there was to go to the Kirby for a show and then right out. Today I walked around after doing my shopping and had a drink at Bart & Urbys and felt safe. If this is do to the cameras I don't know. There are still plenty of vacant storefronts but hopefully that will be remedied soon. The new streetlights are attractive and bright. I plan to return soon.
WILKES-BARRE – A city man’s apparent attempt Thursday to give city officials a taste of their own medicine by photographing and videotaping them got council members a bit irritated.
But when Tim Grier, a frequent city critic, questioned a city employee’s credibility and referred to city officials as “rats,” their anger really showed.
Before the meeting, Grier took photos of city officials and videotaped the meeting, as he has done in the past. During the public comment portion, he criticized the city for placing cameras around City Hall and in other areas.
“This is not Russia,” he said. “You’re going to get yourselves in trouble.”
The rats comment came when he questioned the credibility of a city employee. Back to the cameras. The councilors didn't like being videotaped because they don't know what will be done with the footage. The point Tim was making is that there is no policy about how to protect people's privacy and managing the footage. Fair enough.
Video cameras are all the rage in law enforcement but I don't know how many crimes are solved by them. Maybe our city fathers can put a few people on the job to evaluate their usefulness and address the privacy issues. Many questions arise. Do you spend more money for a video room in police HQ to monitor them or let them just tape everything until you get a complaint? How long to you hold on to the tapes?
Now a rant. I'm sick and tired of being treated like a criminal as go about my daily business. When I walk into a store that says there is video surveilance I've been warned and it's my choice to enter. No warnings are given as I walk down the street. When you apply for a job you're subjected to a drug test. My phone calls can be tapped and finances examined without any oversite. An American citizen can be declared an "enemy combatant" and be held indefinately without recourse to the courts. The Constituition has been described as "quaint" and "just a goddamn piece of paper."
The Constitution and Bill of Rights say something else.
Article I, Section 9
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Reads Tim's take on the whole thing at Un-American Luzerne County.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Luzerne County commissioners don’t have the authority to let voters decide whether row officers should receive pay increases, so the decision will fall back on commissioners, said Commissioner Todd Vonderheid on Wednesday. County Solicitor Neil O’Donnell researched the law and concluded that a voter referendum may not supersede the state County Code, which says commissioners must vote on row officer pay, Vonderheid said.
Commissioner Greg Skrepenak came up with the referendum idea. Vonderheid supported looking into its legality so Skrepenak and Commissioner Stephen A. Urban aren’t forced to make the pay-raise decision as they prepare to run for re-election in 2007.
Forced? If you think it's justified vote for it and defend your decision. Don't hide behind a referendum that would probably lose anyway. Vondy has said he wants to increase the commissioners salary from $42,000 to $70,000. That's not going to happen. It would be political suicide to vote yourself a $28,000 pay raise in an election year. In fact I think that any raise would be met with public outrage.
Skrep's coal miner prompted this LTE in the Times-Leader:
As the grandson of a coal miner who died of anthrosilicosis, I am highly offended by the recent comments attributed to Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak. As taken directly from an article on your Web site: “The reason I believe the county is in the position that it was in is from that nonvisionary point of view, that nonvisionary attitude that keeps us in the past, that links us to still being coal miners, so to speak, that doesn’t want to see us go into the future.”
The Industrial Revolution that propelled America forward to its current position as a world power was borne on the backs of anthracite coal miners. The core of this man’s constituency is made up of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the people who toiled in that industry.
To even obliquely make any disparaging comments about a coal miner’s attitude is an egregious insult. I hold the memory of my grandfather John T. Raykovitz, a World War I veteran and lifelong resident of Wilkes-Barre’s Mayflower section, in the highest regard. He and his wife, Mary, raised eight children on a coal miner’s income.
All five of his sons served in World War II. His son Raymond, a 1941 GAR High School graduate, died in battle in the South Pacific on March 6, 1944.
An immediate apology from Mr. Skrepenak is in order. If nothing is offered, perhaps the descendants of all those who labored and died in the mines to provide a better life for their families should pause to reflect on their heritage and Mr. Skrepenak’s apparent opinion of the same the next time they are in a voting booth.
Don Williams Harleysville
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Judge and DA
Eight years of David Lupas as the Luzerne County District Attorney is enough. Now he wants to be a judge. This county has a habit of promoting DA's to the bench elevating Peter Paul Olszewski, Chet Muroski, Corey Stevens and Pat Toole to name a few.
For all his screw ups in the Hugo Selenski case, and there are many, for me it comes down to his first campaign for DA. He raised and spent the unheard of sum of $750,000 for a county office running on a platform of locking up all the drug dealers. That's worked out well. Today the United States locks up more people than any other country with about half of them in jail over drug offenses. The county prison is busting at the seams as are many of the state prisons and drugs are more available then ever.
The easy thing is to be a reactionary and play on the peoples fear of the "druggies" and call for more jail time for anyone involved while ignoring the individual circumstances. The hard thing is to be a real leader and ask why people take drugs in the first place. As much as I knock Commissioner Greg Skrepnak he is one of the few public officials that has recognized the need to reduce the demand for the poison and to treat people who've made bad decisions in their lives.
The nine Court of Common Pleas judges convened briefly Tuesday afternoon to cast secret ballots. The result, as relayed by Judge Chester Muroski: eight votes for Ciavarella and one blank ballot.
One abstention. It was a secret ballot but it doesn't take much imagination to guess who abstained.
My only contact with Judge Ciavarella was when I was picked to sit on a jury in a civil case that got settled right before it went to trial. After he dismissed us he came out to say say thank you for showing up and answered our questions. He even gave a short lesson on the constitution pointing out that the judiciary is the only branch of government that relies on the direct involvement of the citizens in the form of juries. I was quite impressed with the guy as I peppered him with questions that he answered with good humor, patience and was never condescending.
The Sranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons are no more
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Barack Obama Declares
Clearing the field
WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak has chosen Controller Maryanne Petrilla as his Democratic running mate, according to a local source.
As predicted Skrep and Petrilla will run as a team. I think the early announcement is meant to discourage any other potential candidates.
So Skrep made a decision on his running mate but doesn't want to decide if the commissioners and row officers deserve a pay raise. He wants a referendum to decide the issue saying doesn’t want to vote to increase his own salary. Last I checked the commissioners were elected to make financial decisions. If you think a pay raise is deserved vote for it and defend your decision. People will disagree but will respect you for it instead of playing games with referendums that will never happen. The other hot potato of reassessment has been delayed until after the election showing another lack of leadership and management skill. The Bond Brothers had no problem deciding to give a sweetheart deal in the form of a 20-year contract to some pals that built a juvenile detention facility in Pittston. Or borrowing money to finance a golden parachute scheme called "the life transition plan" to allegedly reduce the number of county employees then hiring a bunch of them back through a temp service. Not to mention all the other borrowing and juggling the books to give the appearance of a balanced budget.
Walter Griffith for city council
Walter Griffith, 52, said his main goal is to be “a fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers.”
The story says he is running in the same district as Councilwoman Shirley Morio Vitanovec. I'm not up to date on what district that would be since W-B decided to elect 5 council members by districts. I'm not sure about electing the city council by district instead of 7 at large seats but we will see if it works any better. In the past there were usually 20+ names on the ballot on the Democratic side and a handful of Republicans. If it brings some order to that chaos it will be an improvement. So Mr. Griffith is the first of many that will throw their hat into the ring. None of the incumbents have revealed their plans. He even has a blog (Wilkes Barre Taxpayers) but doesn't update it regularly. Time to change that Walter.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Arena for sale?
WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Someone may be interested in buying the Wachovia Arena.
Does this open up a can of worms. The most successful public initiative in my lifetime is now such a big hit that a private company wants to buy it. I'm all for it as long as the details can be worked out.
Lackawanna County recently sold off the ski operation on Montage mountain and now it will be known as Sno Mountain. Now if the state will sell off the liquor stores instead of the turnpike. Sell the Barons!
A company called Big Win Ventures that owns the Pioneers AFL2 franchise has sent out a trial balloon. Any price must include paying off the bond issue and paying back the people of Pennsylvania the $17 million grant that helped to build the place.
Me, Mrs. G and the ridiculous retriever just got back from our annual trek to the wilds of southern Luzerne County to execute and relocate a peaceful blue spruce tree that will dominate our living room for the next month. All in all an enjoyable experience. Many families with young children were there and the kids argued over which one to take home.
Our dog was beside himself with so many trees to choose from. After looking around for a while we found our victim and the dog concurred by lifting his leg and watering it. The people at Helen and Eds drilled the hole, bagged it and tied it to our Jeep with their usual good cheer.
After a couple of stops we arrived home and dragged the thing into the house. Now we are pulling out the decorations and lights hitting the first snag of the season when a string of white lights already in the window stopped working. This is the first of many snags to come. Now against my will I've been pressed into sevice hanging ornaments on our unwilling dead vegetation. Mrs. G's ornaments aren't just a collection of bulbs and garnish but each one is a collectors item individually wrapped and boxed. I probably could get a fortune for the stuff on ebay. Putting it up isn't bad but when taking it down trying to find the box it goes into is challenging.
All in all being the lazy bastard that I am I could skip the fuss. I don't even celebrate my birthday as it was so long ago I don't even remember the day. And the sense of obligation to give people gifts is grating. Why do we need an excuse to give our friends and family a gift? Many times during the year I have picked up a book or household item for someone who has expressed a desire or need for such an object. A few weeks ago Mrs. G's Mom noticed that my cutting boards have worn out during the years and knowing of my culinary skills she bought me some new ones. What an absolutely great thing to do out of the blue! It's great to be loved.
Our little Fat Cat was unimpressed by all the commotion. I'm with him.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Comming and going
The first one is the demise of SantorumBlog. Alex and the gang did an outstanding job of covering the Senate race but the election is over so it's time to move on. The successor is another group effort with an all-star lineup including the well travelled Bill Fitz. PA Water Cooler has already become a must read for those who want to keep tabs on the PA conservative movement. It also looks like Bob Casey Blog has stopped updating.
Mayor McCool's Built like Delaware has been deconstructed but he is back better than ever at Pardon My Zinger. He even found an intersting definition of Skrep.
DECLARATIONS OF PRIDE takes on Congressional transparency with the ambitious Congressional Committees Project that even Nancy Pelosi has noticed.
I've also added the tag team at True Democrats of the Lehigh Valley and Berks Democrats that keeps John busy when he's not blogging at his own place. And to keep it tidy fix your bookmarks for Penn Patriot Online.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Luzene County payraise
Another classic from Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepnak coming on top of his "nonvisionary coal miner" crack that insulted many people. When you ran for the job you knew what it paid. Not to disapoint the other Bond Brother, Commissioner Todd Vonderheid, used the DeWeese argument:
"I think this would attract more people to run for this office. Whenever you have more choices, the taxpayers will be better served.”
Like there ever was a shortage of people who want to run for county commissioner.
When most of the people in this county make less than the $42,000 a year plus benefits the commissioners make it's a hard sell. Not that a payraise isn't justified as the salaries haven't been raised in along time for the commissioners or the row officers. Skrep thinks the state should mandate row officer salaries based on the size of counties. Not a bad idea but the legislature is not good on pay issues at the moment.
Skrep wants to punt the issue (I couldn't resist the football metaphore):
Skrepenak said he would support a referendum asking voters if they want to approve a pay increase.
I'm sure that would pass. I like Urban's approach:
Minority Commissioner Stephen A. Urban said he will base his decision largely on public feedback gathered during a special meeting that would have to be called to address the subject.
That will be a fun meeting.
The Pennsylvania Society meets in New York
Not invited again. I know I'm not on any A list but this hurts. I understand why I never get a call from the White House on Veterans Day even after sitting by the phone all day but these people have some explaining to do.
Brunch, lunch, cocktail parties and dinner all sponsored by some special interest. There sure is a lot of food involved, sort of reminds me of pigs at the trough. There are those who question why it's in NYC and not PA. It goes back to the robber baron era when most of our industrialist did business there and wanted to have pow wow to discuss things. Last year the Philadelphia, City Council unanimously passed a resolution to bring the affair within the state's borders. But I'm a traditionalist and say leave it where it is. Another interested blogger will follow the procedings in traditional blogger attire.
If you can't make it to New York the guy with the big pig is having a potluck dinner in Harrisburg. I have a feeling this event will get bigger every year.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Yonk gets blocked
The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader sometimes invites comments on their stories. If the story is of interest to me I usually read them since I'm always interested what the locals are thinking. Some of the comments are very funny, occassionally outrageous and sometimes "politcally incorrect." The TL policy about posting comments has the usual prohibitions about hate speech, obscenities, etc. So I was surprised to read that local blogger David Yonki of The Lu Lac Political Letter was censored as the Yonkster is always a well spoken gentleman. He reports that he posted a comment about the Judge Lokuta controversy citing his blog and this one that was wasn't posted:
The Times Leader ran a story on Sunday about Judge Ann Lokuta. After it, they asked for comments. I posted one, leaving my full name as well as my blog address as well as that of Gort 42 ( http://gort42.blogspot.com/ ) since we both did stories on the Judge’s plight. But the Leader chose not to post my thoughts, perhaps they were threatened by more substantial facts and stories that appear on all local blogs.
What's up with that? It could of been a technical problem but I doubt it. The TL often provides links to local websites in the print and online editions such as the story I highlighted about the Catholic Schools or the Heights fire station bruhaha. I know that reporters on both W-B papers read this blog and other local sites. Maybe they need to amend the terms of service to read that you can't link to bloggers in the comments. Blogs and newspapers are learning how to live with each other. The big blogs react to what is in in the NY Times or Washington Post as we comment on what is in the Times-Leader. Newspapers are not going away as many think but they will change and dealing with the blogosphere is part of the evolution.
Robin Hood as Judge
Flynn joins run for Wayne bench
Attorney Errol C. Flynn became the third person to publicly declare his candidacy for Wayne County judge Tuesday, joining an already formidable field that includes two former district attorneys.
Mr. Flynn, 59, of Cherry Ridge Township, joins former district attorneys Mark Zimmer, 54, of Honesdale, and Raymond L. Hamill, 56, of Dyberry Township, in the race to replace President Judge Robert Conway, who is retiring at the end of next year. Attorney Richard B. Henry, 57, of Berlin Township, is also said to be considering a candidacy. All are Republicans. No Democrats have announced their intentions. Mr. Flynn is perhaps best known across the region as the man who almost knocked off U.S. Rep. Joseph McDade in the 1996 congressional election while Mr. McDade was facing bribery charges.
The only reason I mention this is I knew Errol when I lived in Wayne County and backed him when he ran against Joe McDade. He has also been mentioned as being a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in 2008. Zimmer and Hamill will split the local party so he might have a chance. I'm sorry for the obvious actor jokes but Earl is used to them and is a good sport about it.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
What about the beaver?
JACKSON TWP-Since summer, beavers have caused road flooding by blocking drainage pipes at a stream on Hardisky Road and building a dam at a stream on Pine Tree Road. Jackson Township supervisors have already notified the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and are asking residents who have problems with the animals also to contact the state agency.
This reminded me of this classic.
This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania. This guy's response is hilarious, but read the State's letter before you get to the response letter.
Dear Mr. DeVries:
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued.
Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 19! 94, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.!
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2006.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
Sincerely, David L. Price District Representative and Water Management Division.
Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:
Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County
Dear Mr. Price, Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania.
A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.
While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris." I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.
As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity. My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers. (2) Or do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued.
Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several concerns.
My first concern is; aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams). So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now.
Why wait until 1/31/2006? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality, health, problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump! Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.
THANK YOU. RYAN DEVRIES & THE DAM BEAVERS
Playing with fire
This is the wrong year to propose a pay raise.
Vonderheid: County officials deserve pay hike
Luzerne County’s elected officials are underpaid and deserve a salary increase, according to county Commissioner Todd Vonderheid.
Vonderheid, who has announced he isn’t running for re-election next year, said it might be too late to approve a pay increase for county officials who take office in 2008.
But maybe not.
Solicitor says there’s time for county pay raises
The commissioners must approve salary increases before the end the year, and a legal notice must be published at least 10 days before they meet, Blaum said Monday in an e-mail. The commissioners can’t approve salary increases next year because the three county commissioner seats are up for election then.
What's the rush? Reassessment was put off until after the election.
I smell a rat. Vondy proposes a pay raise that Urban agrees to then Skrep says no and looks like a hero.
WILKES-BARRE – At least six Web sites have sprung up in support of Catholic schools that face closure under a plan released Nov. 14 by the Diocese of Scranton. The question is: Can cyber-rallying help?
The web sites are:
A National Leader
“It was the politics of division, and the way Congress eschewed its role of oversight and accountability. We didn’t have any checks on the administration. I think that was the bottom line for me.”
He has also been quoted in the LA Times and The New Yorker. I even caught him on Hardball one night. And he's a freshman! He wants a seat on the Appropriations Committee (who doesn't) but seems better suited to Armed Services.
The other side is already plotting his demise. The 1998 Republican primary candidates have mostly disapeared except for Honesdale Attorney Errol Flynn. Recently retired state rep Jerry Birmelin has expressed an interest. Primary opponent Kathy Scott probably is not a viable candidate but the GOP hope seems to center on Joe Peters, the Scranton native who was the Republican state auditor general candidate in 2004 that lost.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Post game report
What did you say??? I can't hear you!
I've been remiss about posting the last few days as lifes obligations have interfered with my computer time. I hope to minimize such interferences in the future. I wasn't going to write about our blogger/OT committee gathering until I read this.
First of all my apologies to my old and new friends about the loud music. The reason I chose Marks is that the place is normally mellow at that time on a Saturday. It's usually a few people watching football who clear out when the DJ starts later in the evening because they don't like all the noise either. I did ask the bartender and the owner several times to turn down the volume but I guess they thought someone putting a dollar in the juke box was more important than a dozen people who wanted to have a conversation. If we do it again I will get us a back room of one of the other watering holes I frequent. Without speakers!
Anyway, it was great to get together and a big thank you to everyone who attended. Overall I had a great time. Spending time with people who have the same interests but different viewpoints is always enlightening. I really enjoyed our conversations about technical issues such as using sitemeter and what you hope to accomplish with a blog. Why do you blog? To tell the truth I'm not even sure other than I want to be part of the conversation. Forget letters to the editor. I was reading blogs for a few years when I decided to start my own. I was a regular commenter on some state and national sites but wanted to provide a forum for my pals to sound off on local issues so I started Gort42.
Anyone with an interest in politics wants to chime in on the big issues of the day but I knew I wasn't going to be the next Atrios or Instapundent. An English teacher I had a long time ago advised me to write about what you know, what you've seen and lived through. So I decided to stick to NEPA politics. My inspiration was Wilkes-Barre Online. He wrote about what a mess W-B was becoming under an incompetent Mayor and brought many people along with him. Chris Lilek was another role model in his relentless assault on Arlen Specter. Above Average Jane taught me discipline in finding a local angle to a national story.
The Saturday OT Committee and Operatic Society was out in force. Regular commenters Pope George Ringo, Rain Man and the Senator from Plains are always a lot of fun. Other participants have write ups. The Pennsylvania Progressive travelled far to join us reliving his roots. Lehigh Valley Commissioner candidate Chris Casey added his humor. The Yonkster helped keep order and Another Monkey came up with an idea.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
A balanced budget?
The Bond brothers also approved a 10 year abatement for Robert Mericle’s new industrial park in Pittston and Jenkins townships. Mericle seems to own just about every parcel of wasteland in Wilkes-Barre and the rest of Luzerne County that can be developed. This project may warrant a a tax break since it's mine scarred wasteland but everytime you open the paper the news is about another property being taken off the the tax rolls.
Now here's my favorite part. Skrep channels Donald Rummsfeld:
“The reason I believe the county is in the position that it was in is from that nonvisionary point of view, that nonvisionary attitude that keeps us in the past, that links us to still being coal miners, so to speak, that doesn’t want to see us go into the future,” he said.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Chris Casey for Lehigh County Commissioner
Last year, after I was defeated for Upper Macungie Supervisor by Tom Gorr, I decided the only way I could lead the community and address my concerns positively was to run for an at large County Commissioner seat in 2007.Then, I filled the vacuum when no one wanted to challenge Doug Reichley,and received a 9 month crash course in the realities of hardball Lehigh Valley Politics. "sale' vie" That's life.
My defeat by Doug Reichley for state representative hasn't changed my belief that we need citizens on the Board of Commissioners who will work to improve our County's many communities with an eye on what economic and social conditions we can reasonably expect to exist in the next 20 to 30 years, not for how our economy and society function today. I don't see any reason why I should not attempt to be elected a County Commissioner. My family is behind me, and I realize the effort it will take. I hope that those of you receiving this email understand how important I think it is that we change the course of planning in the Lehigh Valley, and most importantly, that those involved in overseeing the needs of our area not be beholden to any one set of interests, but have their eyes and ears open to the input from and of the needs of the Valley as a whole.
I'm going to get my campaign organized before the end of the year, So I can start the New year off up and running. "Carpe Diem", Seize the day. I don't believe I have the luxury of waiting for someone else to take a lead.
Thank you- Chris Casey
I've never met the man but my Lehigh County blogger buddies highly recommend him. He's an active participant in the online debate posting his views at Democrat Barbarians at the Gate and the group effort True Democrats of the Lehigh Valley. If you're interested Green Dog Dem has a way to help out.
I hope to run into him over the weekend and report back.