Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Barack Obama says get out of Iraq

I got this in the email today:

The time for waiting in Iraq is over. The days of our open-ended commitment
must come to a close. And the need to bring this war to an end is here...

That is why today, I’m introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007.
This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop
the escalation, it would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces with the
goal of removing of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31st, 2008 –
consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that the
President ignored.

The redeployment of troops to the United States , Afghanistan ,
and elsewhere in the region would begin no later than May 1st of this
, toward the end of the timeframe I first proposed in a speech more
than two months ago. In a civil war where no military solution exists, this
redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to
achieve the political settlement between its warring factions that can slow the
bloodshed and promote stability.
The question is not if we end the occupation of Iraq but when. Now Obama has spelled out his position that's not some nonbinding bullshit and the other Democratic candidates will have to follow.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good questions

“We’re just going out and buying. These projects sound good and look good, but how are we going to pay for them?” -Bill Jones Luzerne County GOP commissioner candidate

Crestwood School Board member Bill Jones formally announced Friday that he is running for Luzerne County Commissioner as a Republican.

If elected, Jones said he would do more research and public disclosure before the county gets involved in leases or real estate purchases. He cited two examples of questionable decisions: the county’s planned purchase of a downtown Hazleton building for a southern annex and an Ashley breaker for a mining museum.

Jones, 48, said he supports preserving history but would want a definitive plan on who would pay to develop and maintain the Huber Breaker site before he’d approve it. Commissioners recently agreed to buy the breaker property through eminent domain to prevent the owner from selling it for scrap.

“Is the state going to help fund this? How many people will come to see it? Without concrete answers to these kinds of questions, I don’t know how we can justify taxpayers spending money on it,” Jones said.

After the Bond Brothers blew $7 million borrowed to build the new juvenile detention center that went by the wayside they decided to take the Huber Breaker by eminant domain. A project that is estimated to cost $9 million adding to a $193M capitol improvement plan. Now the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) needs $10 million to match a state grant, another project not budgeted for. So how does LCCC apply for a state grant that requires a local match and the commissioners didn't know anything about it until Monday? Spending money on the college is a better investment than spending $1 million on an "upscale restaurant" in an old bank building on Public Square but how did they not know this was in the pipeline?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

First gremlins

Off to a great start. The new blogger has deleted my blogroll, the page loads slower and when you want to comment a pop up box gets in the way. I was going to revamp the blogroll anyway but now I have to do it. So instead of posting over the weekend I'll be dealing with housekeeping issues.

Update: The blogroll is back with a few changes. I deleted a few inactive sites and updated some others.

A Big Fat Slob has decided to clean up his act and has new URL. But it doesn't look like he shed any pounds.

DECLARATIONS OF PRIDE also has new address. Fix your bookmarks.

Tim changed his name from Un-American to The Luzerne County Liberator. Get your pitchforks.

I also added two non-political blogs that I enjoy.

Mayhem In The House Of Jacq is a great place to discuss cats, life and women's underclothing. "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...." Uh oh, Mrs G just asked me about the underwear thing.

To keep up on the latest web stuff such as delurking and blogswarms unrelated to politics Whaling Season is the place to go.

A new local politcal site popped up but hasn't updated in a week. I haven't added it to my roll or NEPA Blogs yet. There have been about 20 local political blogs that have come and gone over the last year and it seems as soon as I list them they stop posting. Let's hope this site lives up to it's promises: NEPA's Real Deal

Mark has a video about the madmen:

The buck starts here

I didn't do it-Bart Simpson

Luzerne County District Attorney and Judge candidate had another case thrown out because of a technicality. Aren't lawyers supposed to dot the i's and cross the t's. This time a gun charge was dismissed because the DA's office violated the defendant's right to a speedy trial.

The gaffe in Jordan’s case was the latest in a series of errors by prosecutors that have recently cost them cases.

They previously lost felony charges against William P. Jenkins Jr. by failing to bring him to trial on time and then missing a deadline in an appeal of the case.

In December, the state Superior Court overturned the conviction of Kurt Keiper, who wrote more than $478,000 in bad checks, because he was not brought to trial in time.

And, on Wednesday, Lupas said Assistant District Attorney Frank Barletta failed to timely file a court document detailing appeal issues in the case of Linnea Holdren, a school teacher accused of allowing her son to take a gun to school. That means prosecutors might be precluded from raising those issues before the appellate court.

In the Holdren case he blamed the error on a secretary. It's never his fault. There have been other cases when an assistant DA hasn't even shown up in court resulting in the defendant walking.
The escape charges against Hugo Selenski were dismissed because of a paperwork error.
Having Bart Simpson as the DA is bad enough but do we really want this guy as a Judge.

Another view of Lupas and his number one:

The ringmaster and his No. 1 assistant say they are running for higher offices.
District Attorney Lupas has his sights set on becoming a judge, and Jacqueline Musto Carroll wants to replace him as district attorney.

We had a first-hand look at D.A. Lupas and his band of clowns. Our son, Tom Zielinski, and his girlfriend, Kim Potoski, were killed on July 21, 2005, by a hit-and-run driver. A 10-year-old daughter was left behind as a result of this tragedy.

The state police said the defendant, who fled the scene, was responsible for this accident and the police report verifies this by the accounts of three witnesses. The defendant was not charged with vehicular homicide.

To say this was a travesty of justice, after the defendant only received a one- to three-year sentence, would be a gross understatement. I wonder what he would have been charged with if he was one of their kids?

David Lupas and Jacqueline Carroll should be ashamed of themselves, not only as would-be professionals but as disgraces to the judicial system. Their lack of organization was only exceeded by their incompetence and pathetic work ethic.

However, if you read the newspapers, you are obviously aware of their track record.
Remember Tommy and Kim come election time.

I'm in

The new blogger has been twisting my arm for a while and tonight it left me no choice. I hope they worked the bugs out. Not that the old blogger didn't have bugs.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hey Rick, I need a few more bucks

And I need it in a month.

HARRISBURG - Wilkes-Barre resident Carl Romanelli has been ordered to pay more than $80,000 in legal fees stemming from his failed effort to make the ballot in last year's U.S. Senate race...The court order gives Romanelli and his attorney, Lawrence Otter, 30 days to pay.

Maybe that other guy in the picture, Senor Barletta, can share his secret donor list. If not, there is always the Blackwater bunch.

A den of thieves?

25-year recorder of deeds office worker suspended

Carl Salitis has been suspended with pay from his job as a union administrative assistant in the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Office...Another former employee, Robert Pritchard, faces a felony theft charge for allegedly stealing money from the recorder of deeds office.
County detectives say Pritchard stole more than $50,000 from the office over a seven-year span...An audit showed more than $200,000 had been missing from the office between 1998 and 2005.

It looks like former Avoca Mayor James “Red” O’Brien has a campaign issue in his run against incumbent Recorder of Deeds Mary Dysleski .

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who's running for President?

How about an anti-war Republican.

Chuck Hagel

Or an anti-war Democrat.

Cynthia Ore-An Inconvenient Woman

She wants her money. The new hot political site The Politico has the scoop.

He's threatening to renege on the deal: Sherwood contends he's no longer bound by the settlement because, he charges, the ex-mistress violated its confidentiality clause, said the sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were concerned about breaching the confidentiality agreement themselves.

But it appears that he broke the agreement: Lawyer Ning Ye, who helped negotiate the settlement for Ore, said he stopped representing her last month and would not discuss specifics of the settlement. But he pointed out that after the agreement, Sherwood appeared in a campaign television ad denying the abuse and asking voters to forgive him for the affair.
"Public admission of the affair is a kind of disclosure," Ye said. The commercial, he added, revealed elements of "the factual basis leading to the confidential settlement agreement" and, as such, could constitute a violation.

Slimy people arguing over money, what fun. Somehow I think this will drag on, hopefully until 2008.

My friend John lost his pictures of Miss Ore. Here are some:

More Ketchup or damn the dam

Sunbury Inflatable Dam (Looking East Towards Sunbury)

Wyoming Valley Inflatable Dam

It looks like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Protection has put the kibbosh on this thing. I'm not an engineer or a boater and I haven't fished in the Susquehanna River in years but I think I have some common sense that tells me this is being done bass ackwards. Congressman Paul Kanjorski says if the dam is built it will provide an impetus to clean up the river. Most of us think that you should clean up the river first. He points out that if the dam is not built the money will go back to the federal government:

If these federal funds are not used for the inflatable dam, they must be returned to the federal government; the Wyoming Valley would get neither a seasonal lake nor a clean river.

Send it back. Why spend $14 million on a project that could possibly cost tens of millions down the line in enviromental and health problems.

The local blogoshere seems to be united in opposition and the Times-Leader ran an editorial today saying enough is enough.

Susquehanna River Sentinel

Wilkes-Barre Online

Un-American Luzerne County

TL: Current of uncertainty enough to sink dam plan

Catch up

Absence makes the heart grow fonder judging by the number of visitors to this site since I decided to take a break. Thank you for your well wishes in the comments and email. So what did I miss?

Luzerne County Democratic Chairman Mark Bufalino had a séance and contacted the ghosts of Marty Murray and Richard Daley and got some pointers on how to enforce party discipline.

County Democrats put support behind commissioner ticket; Lupas and Musto Carroll also receive endorsements.

The vote for Skrep and his girl Friday was unanimous. That's impressive considerering that candidates can't even circulate nominating petitions yet but it was an open process according to the chairman: “We are just trying to open up the process for people to come and seal the (Democratic Party),” party chairman Mark Bufalino said. “We want to head in one direction.”....“The purpose of the meeting was to open up the process, not shut it down,” Bufalino said. “All candidates had a chance to address the committee.”

Other non-surprises were David Lupas being endorsed for Judge and his number one Jackie Musto Carroll grabbing the nod for District Attorney. They also endorsed candidates for the other row offices which I'll cover in the coming days.

On the other side of the ballot the Luzerne County Republican Executive Committee voted not to endorse any candidate. From what I understand of our local GOP affiliate any endorsement would probably be greeted as a kiss of death by the candidate "lucky enough" to get it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Time Out

I usually try to post something everyday but my plate is full over the weekend. See you next week.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nice idea but how do you pay for it?

To most people its just a big pile of junk, an eyesore and a disater waiting to happen. To others it's a link to our past as the coal mining center that fueled the industrial revolution and should be preserved.

The only contact I've had with a breaker was the one on North River Street next to the Wilkes-Barre Cemetery that I climbed around and threw rocks at the few remaining windows when I was a kid. When they tore down the place and cleaned up the mess around it we all cheered. A nursing home in now in that location.

Some of the ideas for the Huber site are creative. Paul Golias has the idea of a regional anthracite magical mystery tour that would tie the Huber to the coal mine tour and museum in Lackawanna County with the Ashley Planes and Eckley Miners' Village, and its museum, near Hazleton. Tourists could plan multi-day trips based on the anthracite heritage of the region. History would come alive for school kids on day trips.

Why not schedule "Anthracite Days,'' an annual valley-wide celebration of our heritage?

Renita Fennick said she would be willing to contribute a few bucks to the project and has many fundraising ideas.

But the owner of the site, Al Roman, is threatening to sell the thing for scrap. So our county commissioners led by the football player went into panic pass mode and decided to take the property by eminent domain. Mr. Roman will have to be compensated and it will take millions to restore the building and develop the property. How will the county pay for it? Float another bond is my guess. This is an idea that is nice but we just can't afford.

For more info on the Huber Breaker see the Huber Breaker Preservation Society.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Phyllis asks some questions

She should really send me her press realeses. From the TL:

What should Blue do for you, NEPA? COMMENTARY PHYLLIS MUNDY

RECENTLY, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced a “bold and visionary initiative (to) ensure the ability of regional hospitals to deliver high-quality health care to its members.”

That’s certainly an inspiring statement. The initiative is indeed “bold” – disbursing $175 million of surplus subscriber funds to various health-care entities in the region.
But a closer examination of this proposal -- and the general reaction to it -- says as much about the misguided direction of health care in our state as it does about the lack of scrutiny in how these dollars are spent.

As you know, I’ve been an outspoken critic of the way in which Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a nonprofit insurer, has stockpiled surpluses while at the same time raising rates.
This situation is somewhat different, however. In fact, I find the intent of these initiatives -- such as the creation of a regional medical school -- very admirable.

But, once again, as an overall policy and plan, hard questions must be asked: Is this an appropriate use of the surplus? What are the anticipated measurable results? Are any of the ideas proposed in the initiative better than simply using the surplus to hold or reduce premiums? These are fair questions that I believe deserve straightforward answers.

In a recent editorial on this very subject, the Times Leader wrote, “Let’s not look this gift horse in the mouth.” I disagree. I’m not saying that we should criticize this action out of hand, but I also don’t think we should accept it sight unseen.

Not only should we look it in the mouth, but we also need to probe deeper to see what the finished product may look like. With all due respect to Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s good intentions, the fundamental question remains: Is this really the best, most effective way to improve rates and services? Judging by the current state of health care, I believe the answer is no.

The most obvious and some would argue the best approach would be for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania to use the surplus to hold down or reduce rates. This is not a novel concept. In fact, some Blues in other states have already done so. For instance, in 2004, the New Jersey and Tennessee Blues refunded $55 million and $67 million, respectively, to their policyholders. North Carolina, on the other hand, used its surplus to roll back rate increases.
Unfortunately, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania believes this approach “makes no sense.” To compound matters, it has continually stated that its multi-million-dollar surplus is not excessive. Yet, soon after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court revived class-action lawsuits against the Blues, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania suddenly discovered that it had a spare $175 million. However, they decided not to return one penny to rate-payers.
To fulfill their nonprofit mission as insurers of last resort, the Blues in other states have done exactly what Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania believes “makes no sense.” Surely, if it has such excess to part with $175 million, some portion of that must be returned to subscribers – whose hard-earned money was the basis for the surplus – to provide them with economic relief.

This not only “makes sense” but reflects what a true nonprofit should do, namely, provide benefits to those most in need. Despite Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s position, Pennsylvanians who struggle daily to maintain critical health insurance are the ones most in need and who should be the principal beneficiaries of this new-found “generosity.”
I’m not saying that Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania should cut checks, but other options should be examined instead of investing ratepayer funds in a myriad of unproven ventures.

With that said, their regional focus sounds good at first. However, I fear that it will escalate the “technological arms race” between regional providers.
With so many independently owned ambulatory surgical facilities in the region, do we need more? Do we need more cardiology and oncology office space or a new medical office building? Without some process in place to determine need, the consumer who is paying the bills has no way to know. Is this duplication of existing services needed or does it just add to health-care inflation?

Also, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s handout does not address one of the most critical cost drivers – preventable medical errors. Blue Cross could institute a list of “never events” that it will not reimburse, such as wrong-site surgery.
Shouldn’t Blue Cross do all it can to keep costs low and encourage best practices? Doing so would also address another preventable medical problem — hospital-acquired infections. It’s frustrating that many of these concerns could be corrected with simple administrative remedies that cost nowhere near $175 million. There is, of course, no price tag on the human toll.
On the other hand, one of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s stated goals is to stem the flow of patients leaving the area. To that end, shouldn’t policyholders be allowed to utilize the Geisinger Health System?

I believe Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s policy toward Geisinger promotes competition, not cooperation. Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be examined.
As health-care costs continue to skyrocket, I feel I owe it to my constituents to, once again, ask the tough questions: Is this an appropriate use of ratepayer surplus dollars? What are the anticipated, measurable results?

Are any of the ideas proposed in the initiative better than simply using the surplus to hold down or reduce premiums? What else can Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania do to ensure access to high-quality health care without spending ratepayers’ dollars this way?
I believe that Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania customers and my constituents deserve better answers to these questions.

Who will be the next Judge

Ask Hugo. Or his friends.

“He could say whatever he wants, I’m not the one running for judge.”-defense attorney John Pike

"No one I ever tried for murder was ever acquitted,”-Tom Marsilio

“My hat goes off to you, Mr. Lupas, You have to be a complete jerk.”- Hugo's Aunt

Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas has announced he is running for the new spot on the the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas after 8 years as the DA. These are two people who's futures are entwined. The chances are the case will come to trial in the summer and if Lupas gets a conviction he gets elected and if there is an aquittal he doesn't.

The latest argument is where Selenski will be housed during the run-up to the trial. My suggestion is that Hugo should move in with Lupas. I'm sure he can find a spare room and has a nice dining room with a big table that the defense can lay out all their documents without plexiglass in the way. Just lock up all the bedding.

With Lupas moving on a few people have declared they are running for DA. Only one has a website.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Senor Lou está funcionando para la reelección

CV: "I've been interviewed by television programs, newspapers and magazines from around the world," said Barletta with his wife, Mary Grace, at his side. "I have been encouraged to run for many different elected offices, but the most important office that I can hold is the office of mayor."

Being Luzerne County Commissioner is small potatoes for someone who has been on 60 Minutes and the next Senate seat or the Governors mansion isn't up until 2010. I still say he runs for Congress again in 2008.

Carl looks at the economics of immigration.


From the inbox:

I was born and raised in w-b, went to u of scranton, then to new york
law school. the debate on the pronunciation of barre has gone on for years. you
may be correct that the correct pronunciation is berry. that depends on
two factors i believe one of which i know the answer. his surname is
french and he spelled it with an accent mark over the e. so we know that it is
not pronounced like shoppe and barre. ie english way of doubling the last
consonant and adding an e to the end of the word , but as u know the last two
letters are silent. so bar and barre are pronounced the same like shoppe
and shop.

however, this man's dad was french. and his name was
spelled Barré, Isaac (bâr'ē) .
âr care ē bee , so technically it is
not berry but bar ee. with the accent being on the last

since he spelled his name with the accent, and since
he was born in dublin irland , spoke fluent english, and some french, the accent
mark would indicate that he prononced his name the french way. bar
ee. however, to be certain on the pronunciation, i was researching how in
fact he prononced his name. i could not find anything on that. would u
happen to know? In conclusion, since our spelling is without the accent mark and
when the city was founded, they know that he spelled his name with the accent
mark, maybe it was deliberatly left out so that the name would be
pronounced bar. i tried to post this on your blog. but was
unsuccessful. could you post is for me. maybe one of your readers, could
add some info.

Because truly without knowing how he
pronounced his surname and why the accent mark was left out, one really cannot
know how to pronounce barre.
i enjoyed reading your blog very
much. thank you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Run Frank run

What a gift to bloggers this would be. About a week ago I heard a rumor that former commissioner Frank Crossin, Junior may be interested in once more joining the fray for County office . I dismissed it out of hand knowing that Crossin has been playing Godfather the last few years attempting to pull the strings of the local Democratic Party. Then Danny floated the idea and the Yonk weighed in on it.
Over the weekend I talked to a few committee people that said it might be true.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

DeLurking Week

She who hunts whales has pointed out another cool internet thingy.

Sunbeams gives a Definition:

All of the cool kids are saying that this is National Delurking Week. For anyone who doesn't speak internet, "lurking" is when one reads material on a discussion forum or blog yet doesn't post comments. Hence his or her presence is unknown. To delurk means to post a comment and say hi.

I know I don't comment on my favorite blogs enough but it doesn't mean I don't read them everyday. I go down my sidebar first thing everday at the crack of noon and it gives me a heads up on the news of the day. Thanks blog buddies. When I first started doing this I measured my success by the number of comments on a post but after I put sitemeter on I found out that a lot more people were reading but not commenting. Lurkers. When I surf the big blogs I rarely comment as my post would be number 458 on the thread, so I'll continue to lurk.

My friend Dr. Tara is a bit discouraged by the lack of interaction on her site so go say hello.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Luzerne County Republicans

It looks like Lynette Villano, chairwoman of the Luzerne County Republican Party, has enjoyed her holidays and is ready to get down to the business of losing another election.

County Republicans, meanwhile, appear to be taking a different approach.

Lynette Villano said the leadership is leaning against endorsements, though she will announce for sure at the party’s meeting on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to build our party and encourage new people to come forward. We want people to think they have a chance,” she said.

Republican minority Commissioner Stephen A. Urban plans to seek re-election. Three other Republicans have said that they will run for commissioner: Crestwood School Board member Bill Jones, Hanover Area School Board member David Shipula and contractor Bill James.

Other Republicans considering running for commissioner are chiropractor Dave Madeira, former West Hazleton Mayor Carl Puschauver and Northwest Area School Board member Randy Tomasacci.

I've always liked Steve Urban. The Bond brothers have cut him out of all decision making so now he is getting to be known as Dr. No for opposing some of their schemes such as juggling the books to give the illusion of balancing the budget. Bill Jones says the right things but hired Skrep as Crestwood's football coach and was rewarded by having a family member hired by the county. Tomasacci had the brilliant idea of getting the NW Area school board sued for teaching Intelligent Design after the Dover decision. Madeira thinks that gay marriage is a problem and wrote a stupid letter attacking Chris Carney for voting for the leader of his party for Speaker of the House. And everybody loves Bill James.

We don't need no stinkin primary

Or an election for that matter when our Luzerne County Democratic overlords will decide it for us.

Dems seen as in rush to endorse

Two possible Luzerne County Commissioner candidates – attorney Ray Hassey and former controller Steve Flood – question why county Democratic organization leaders are in such a hurry to endorse candidates for the May primary. The party’s executive committee is scheduled to decide Thursday, and it’s possible that endorsements will be made as early as that night, leaders say...The meeting’s timing also seems suspect because county candidates won’t start circulating nominating petitions until Feb. 13.

New County Democratic chairman Mark Bufalino was the subject of a puff piece in the CV saying he was a breath of fresh air after the acrimony of the Joe Mazur and Jim Bach tenures. But it's the same old shit. The filing deadline isn't until March 7 so what's the hurry. Although the party endorsement isn't as important as it was in the Marty Murray days it still gives the edge to the lucky insider. This maneuver is obviously designed to clear the field for incumbent commissioner Greg Skrepnak and his girl friday, Maryanne Petrilla, by discouraging other candidates. My view is that the party shouldn't endorse a candidate in the primary, incumbent or not. The only other announced candidate is Mario Fiorucci but Pittston Township Supervisor Tony Attardo and former Bear Creek Township Supervisor Ed Benkoski are testing the waters along with Flood and Hasey.

The one thing that could stop this juggernaut is if the rumors of former commissioner Frank Crossin getting into the race are true. What fun that would be!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Geography lesson for Mr. Bush

The General helps him out.


Hazleton-A local government watchdog is the first person to confirm an intent to run for city mayor this year. Dee Deakos, a frequent attendee at city council, commission and authority meetings for more than a decade, said she will run on the Republican ticket...If Mayor Lou Barletta seeks re-election, he will face Deakos in the primary.

Danny has an invite from Senor Lou's get together on Monday that promises an "important announcement." He is speculating that Barletta will announce that he is running for higher office and not that he's running for re-election. I don't know. The next Congressional election is two years away and Musto's seat is up in 2010 and he hasn't been mentioned as a candidate for Luzerne County Commissioner. I think that he either announces he will seek re-election or says he is bowing out to "spend more time with my family" while laying the groundwork for another run for congress.

What Congressman Carney thinks of the urge to surge

Washington, D.C.-Congressman Christopher Carney (D-PA) came out in strong disagreement with the Bush Administration's plan to send 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq and issued the following statement:

"President Bush's plan to increase troops is a mistake. This will not reduce the violence in Iraq. This is a Yogi Berra strategy: deja vu all over again.

"We should be changing our focus in Iraq. Instead of sending more American troops overseas, we should be training Iraqis to handle the jobs themselves. For every Iraqi battalion we train, we need to bring an American battalion home. This should be our focus.

"Also, it is downright irresponsible for the President to send additional troops to Iraq without first reading the upcoming Iraq national intelligence estimate. As a Member of Congress, I believe that we need to make our decision based on the most complete knowledge possible. The national intelligence estimate-which by the way is overdue-would provide that information.

"I was one of those Congressmen in the bipartisan White House meetings that the President referenced in his speech. He may have listened, but it is obvious that he did not heed. How many 'do-overs' does he get?

"I came to Congress to serve and protect my country. We must change our focus in Iraq, not needlessly send more American troops overseas."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All are welcome

I appreciate everyone who takes time to comment on this site. If you wish to remain anonymous, use your name or a pseudonym that’s your call. The last thing I want to do is make it harder to comment. I've noticed that blogs that don’t allow anonymous posts get very few comments. Also, I wish I didn’t have to use word verification as it adds another step and is a pain in the neck but the spammers are relentless. Since I started this site I’m happy to say I’ve only deleted a handful of comments because they either accused someone of a crime without any evidence or were just vulgar. The only thing I ask dear readers is that you reserve your name calling for the politicians. Again, Thanks for stopping by and keep up the great debate.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tom Marsilio for Luzerne County judge

The race for the 10th judicial seat in Luzerne County will become clearer after this week: Two potential candidates plan to announce their intentions regarding the race.
Attorney Tom Marsilio will formally
announce his candidacy for Luzerne County judge Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the rotunda of the Luzerne County Courthouse, he confirmed.

Marsilio ran against David Lupas for District Attorney in 1999 and was swamped by money and false promises. I think his downfall was the campaign slogan, "An Officer and a Gentleman." It's hard to take someone seriously when they use the title of a soppy Richard Gere movie in a political campaign.

Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas, who is expected to run as well, will announce his intentions 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wilkes-Barre Ramada Inn. Lupas would not say if he’ll run for re-election as district attorney or seek a judgeship.“I’ll make that clear Thursday,” he said.

So Lupas is playing coy with the press. Like anyone who pays attention doesn't know he's running for Judge. I hope he's better prepared for this announcement than he is for some of his trials.

Hazleton illegal immigrant ordinance

U.S. District Judge James M. Munley has set a date of March 12 to start the trial on the legality of Senor Barletta's claim to fame. He is also allowing some of the plaintiffs to remain anonymous which is something I've never heard of before. Mayor Lou can always rewrite the ordinance again to try to keep the spotlight on his circus but I hope this date holds firm. Let's get it over with. Both sides are promissing appeals if they lose but I get the feeling that Hazleton will drop this nonsense if they lose the first round, citing financial considerations. There is only so much money you can get from invisible donors as the anonymous owners of The Times-Leader have pointed out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Whada ya hear?

Lots of speculation going on in the comments and emails about the new judgeship, commissioner and other county offices. Keep it coming!

If anyone is running for a municipal office in Laflin, Connygham or whatever, let me know. I'll publish your press release unedited unlike the local rags. We've had more than one candidate announce their intentions on Gort42.

The concept of justice

The United States locked up over 2 million people last year. Great, we're number one. My point was there are many people thrown into jail that don't deserve it and defeats the purpose of justice. Our society grows ever more violent or maybe we just hear about it more because of cable news. But it seems like the real criminals get away and people who do stupid things but don't hurt anyone get fucked.

When I get such a thoughtful comment it deserves the front page. From my friend David Yonki:

I don't think Gort's a bleeding heart. In this economy with the way the business community treats its workers, you can easily run into a slide if you are living paycheck to paycheck. And isn't it interesting how the poor saps get put in jail but the George Banks live on and on, our tax dollars go to public defenders to represent scum bags like henry stubbs who killed an innocent woman and gutted her little girl like a deer, and the out of town druggies wind up in public housing as guests of people renting there? The problem my friends is not the jail space, the law or the criminals. It is how we as a society in NEPA deal with what's handed to us. We accept a Mary Leo being killed above Abe's, we celebrate a Hugo Salinski because we've long given up on moral outrage on the small stuff. It's Mayor Guiliani's broken street light theory, if you see it broke in your neighborhood, you fix it, don't let it go downhill. It's how we respond to the people intruding on our moral lives, that's the key to beating crime. This may or may not be related: but the first New Year's Baby was born in the area and they put her picture in the paper with the mom. No father, just the mom. The father never owned up to the moral issue by marrying the mom. No outrage anymore, it's just the way kids do things today. And we accept it. It's the small things we need to work on. You prosecute and punish the people sucking the life out of us, you give the cabbie with the kids a break, you try to even it out. It's a thing called Justice. You and I recognize it but most of our county lawyers and judges don't care about justice, "they just want to get theirs." And that's the sad part. You can build all the prisons in the world but it won't help unless you have people running the system who understand the concept of justice.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?

When you're looking at $100 million to build a new prison maybe some alternatives ought to be considered. In the 1980's when Saint Ronny was President the federal government cut funding for state mental hospitals and out-treatment programs. The result of that policy has been haunting us ever since. The explosion of the homeless population, people who can't hold a job because they're too confused to even perform the activities of daily living and the resulting crime. It's easy to say lock up all the criminals, the hard part is to find a way to prevent crime.

As much as I knock the Luzerne County Commissioners I have to give them props for trying something different. Greg Skrepnak was a leader in establishing the Drug Court and now they have a new initiative.

Commissioners trying to start a mental health court to get nonviolent offenders help.

Once you're convicted of a crime and locked up for a while it's hard to get your life back. The laws seemed to be designed to prevent you from rejoining society. If a landlord or employer does a background check you can't get a job or a place to live. Wilkes-Barre and other communities are busy passing laws on where sex offenders can live. If these people are so dangerous why not just lock them up for life? If drunk driving was as big a problem as we are told I think we would be all dead judging by how may cars are in the parking lots of the local taverns and clubs. And how about throwing people in jail because they fall behind in child support, that helps them pay off the obligation.

An antidote about how quick someone can get thrown in jail that causes even more damage. A friend of mine was a taxi driver that split up with his wife and a couple of kids were involved. He had court ordered support that he did his best to meet. Cab drivers don't make much money so when he got behind on support payments they suspended his drivers license. Makes sense, huh. He bounced from job to job getting even more behind on support payments and then they threw him in jail because he was so far behind. What good did that do?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Luzerne County DA race

Nanticoke-area Attorney Vito DeLuca is running for District Attorney and so is First Assistant District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll . Both CV articles are full of quotes from local political guru Ed Mitchell pointing out the obvious saying if Dave Lupas decides to seek re-election they will both bow out. I got news for you Ed, Dave Lupas is running for Judge. Like you don't already know that and haven't drawn up the campaign plan. It should be a nice piece of change as you also know he spent 750 grand on his first run for DA.

Back to the announced candidates. Lupas' deputy with the 3 names, Jackie Musto Carroll- Musto, where have I heard that before?-has announced her intention to run for the top spot in the office. What a record to defend. A nice Irish name like Vito DeLuca is hard to resist. He has a life of trial experience and has been a public defender. More to come.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A new day in Washington

I spent part of the afternoon watching the Nancy Pelosi show on cable news today. Congrats to her and all our elected represenatives. I was planning to make it to the festivities but something got in the way. Bob Casey is now our junior Senator even though he doesn't come across as being too thrilled about it. To tell the truth I'm not all that excited either. The change I am excited about is Chris Carney becoming the first Democrat since 1958 to be elected as the represenative from the 10th Congressional District. Let's hope he lasts longer than the last one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Music to my ears

"We can’t continually run the county in a deficit and use bonds to balance the budget,” -

Crestwood School Board member and Luzerne County commissioner candidate Bill Jones.

It's great that a commissioner candidate has picked up on what I've been harping about for the last two years. Three of the last four years the Bond Brothers have had to float a bond just to meet the payroll. This year they avoided it by a bunch of accounting tricks. Pushing off debt repayment that will cost more in the future, inventing revenue from land sales that have not yet happened and "more agressive" tax collection. Presto, no tax increase. You can't run a business or local government by juggling the books. It will eventually come crashing down on your head.

Wilkes-Barre City Councilwoman Kathy Kane said she will run for re-election and skip the county race. Steve Flood, a former county controller, said Tuesday that he’s 90 percent sure he will run for commissioner, but he said talk that he would switch to a Republican registration is inaccurate.

Greg Skrepenak and his to be announced running mate (Maryanne Petrilla) have a head start in fundraising. Outgoing commish Todd Vonderheid said he is willing $100,000 in campaign money to the happy couple.

And the Bond Brothers gave a going away present of $3000 to a lucky few.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bloggers of PA unite!

I just watched the press confrence with the Guv, the new speaker Dennis O'Brien and Bill DeWeese. The most dangerous place to be today was between DeWeese and a microphone. He ran right up O'Brien's back and even elbowed Rapid Edward out of the way when he wanted to say something. Not an easy thing to do. I may be wrong but the impression I got was DeWeese will be calling the shots and he is dancing on Perzel's political grave.

The most dysfunctional polical body in the United States topped itself today. After twelve years in the wilderness the Democrats couldn't even get their shit together to elect a leader from their own party.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Phylis Mundy for Speaker

The state house is in turmoil since Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone of Berks County wrote a letter saying he will vote for John Perzel for speaker. It may not matter as some Republicans have gone on the record saying they won't vote for Perzel. Everybodys head is spinning over the machinations in Harrisburg that would make Machiavelli proud.

I say the hell with Perzel and DeWeese. Find a compromise candidate from the Democratic Caucus. Phyllis Mundy has always been a loyal Democrat and good government type and might be the person they all could agree on. No one can dispute that she knows the issues, especially health care, but the objection might be that she can't slam heads to get her way. Maybe our reps are tired of getting their arms twisted and facing retribution if they don't vote the party line. The one thing I can give her credit for is building a consensus on issues and being tough when she thinks the people are being screwed. I think she would be an outstanding Speaker.

Happy New Year

U2 - New Year's Day