Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Voorspoedige nuwe jaar

Kul 'am wa antum bikhair

Urte Berri on

Shuvo noboborsho

Sun nien fai lok

Stastny Novy Rok

Godt NytÅr

Gelukkig nieuwjaar

Bonan Novjaron

Onnellista uutta vuotta

Bonne année

Ein glückliches neues Jahr

Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos

Hauoli Makahiki hou

Shana Tova

Boldog uj evet

Felice Anno Nuovo or Buon anno

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu

Sehe Bokmanee Bateuseyo

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab

Godt Nytt År

Manigong Bagong Taon

Szczesliwego Nowego Roku

La Multi Ani si Un An Nou Fericit

Ia manuia le Tausaga Fou

Feliz año nuevo

Heri za Mwaka Mpya

Gott Nytt År

Sawatdee Pi Mai

Chuc mung nam moi

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home Rule petitions

In 2003 the Luzerne County Home Rule charter was defeated 54%-46% with the help of both political parties. Democratic Commissioner candidates Greg Skrepnak and Todd Vonderheid argued the structure of the county government wasn't the problem but the people in charge had let us down. Trust us they said, we are a breath of fresh air. Well, we all know how that has turned out. Fictitious county budgets full of lies about imaginary revenues. Sweetheart deals to the well connected. State and Federal investigations into the business practices of the county and the people charged with keeping the public trust. Debit Cards used at strip clubs, no-bid contracts, falsifying tax liens, a fantasy airport, cronies hired for important jobs and when their incompetence was exposed they were shuffled off to other less visible county jobs. The list is almost endless. And bonds, bonds and more bonds just to meet payroll and keep the county operating.

We have a chance to fix this reign of incompetence.

Luzerne Home Rule

Luzerne Home Rule is proud to announce that it is now time to start circulating petitions to place Home Rule on the ballot in May. Click here to download yours today!

4,790 valid signatures are needed to get it on the May primary ballot that would elect another study commission that would draft a new home rule charter. If they use the 2003 Charter proposal with some tinkering it could be on the ballot in November.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

YouTube weekend

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.

Such bullshit. I don't know how many times I bought a CD or DVD after getting a preview on YouTube. The record indusrty /Hollywood companies have it wrong.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

YouTube weekend

Dana is horrified that Barry ordered a spam musubi for lunch the other day. I have a rule for new food. I'll try anything once, twice if I like it and 3 times if I can't decide but this even gives me pause...spam musubi, a local luncheon specialty, consists of spam and a fried egg on a bed of rice, all held together with a dried seaweed wrap. It sounds disgusting but the next time I'm in Hawaii I will try one. Dana has included a video of how to make the thing but I'm surprised he didn't include this classic. I don't like spam.

Monty Python - Spam

YouTube weekend

The shoplifting dog in Utah is all the rage.

Dog Shoplifts [Caught on Camera]

Some of our canine friends are too worn out from the holidays to engage in a crime spree.

New pics at Facebook.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

miilaad majiid

Vasel Koleda

gojan Kristnaskon

hyvää joulua

fröhliche Weihnachten

felix dies Nativitatis

eydet mobârak

feliz Navidad

Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

joyeux Noël

Pretenders 2000 Miles

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Skrep is outraged

“They are trying to hide stuff from me” -Luzerne County Democratic Commissioner Greg Skrepnak

Skrep objects to Philly law firm

Skrepenak said he received no contact whatsoever about this hiring in advance. Commissioners should have followed county policy by declaring a state of emergency to avoid the public request-for-proposals search process, he said. He also questioned why no executive session was called to brief all three commissioners on the hiring plan.
He believes the failure to notify him violates the state County Code.

Commissioner Chair Maryanne Petrilla's response was to suggest that he show up for work once in a while if he wants to be part of the decision making.

This pissing contest between the Commissioners and President Judge Mark Ciavarella is going to end up costing Luzerne County a pretty penny if the State Supreme Court doesn't take original jurisdiction. Zen left a comment on an earlier post advocating the throw away the key approach and Mark points out that our demand that every criminal be prosecuted to "full extent of the law" is expensive and maybe the Judge has a pretty good case.

So the Commissioners are being sued by top Judge in the county and the case will be heard by a bunch of other Judges. Who do you think will win?

Job cuts are scheduled in all offices of the Luzerne County Government except the Judiciary at this time.

County approves 27 job cuts to begin Jan. 1

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season Greetings

via Blondesense

Update: From Judi

Idiot watch

The girl that spraypainted swastikas and other hateful stuff on a Wilkes-Barre synagogue has been sentenced to jail.

WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. on Monday sentenced 19-year-old Nora Rynkiewicz to nine to 18 months in county prison followed by three years of probation.

The shrinks offered the usual psychobabble explaining her behavior which may be valid because I have a hard time understanding how such a young girl could be so full of hate. I think the sentence is excessive for an act of vandalism. She should probably spend a short time in jail and make restitution and be on probation as ordered by the Judge. He could have have been creative by putting her in a community service requirement such as working at the Jewish Community Center as a condition of probation.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Meet Quincy

Between snow shoveling and puppy training I haven't had much time for blogging this weekend. Sometimes you have to say screw politics because what is going on in your life is more important. This little guy is learning faster than any dog I've ever had. He already knows his name, fetch, sit and is getting an idea of what NO means. I'll explain the name later.
You are all suckers for Puppy pics so go see some more at my Facebook page.

Friday, December 19, 2008

YouTube weekend

The first round of shovelling and snow blowing all day and the weather doomsayers that all I accomplished was to make room for the next snowfall on Sunday. The way to have some fun after the storm is to fire up the grill and cook some T-Bones from our favorite butcher shop, Plains Meat. Then settle into my recliner and kick off my boots subjecting Mrs. G to a bad case of

Luzerne County Judge sues himself

The Luzerne County budget battle has taken a weird turn.

CV: Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. escalated his fight against county commissioners, filing a lawsuit Wednesday to block judicial branch layoffs outlined in the 2009 county budget....Ciavarella named himself as a defendant for his role as a member of the Luzerne County Salary Board, and as the plaintiff, as president judge.

Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly is also threatening to sue over staff reductions.

For the longest time the county payroll has been looked at as some sort of jobs program for the relatives and friends of the well connected and now the gravy train has come to end of the line. Luzerne County has been so mismanaged that they can't even get a normal tax anticipation loan so the axe has to fall somewhere.

I have to give credit to Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Steve Urban for trying to clean up the mess that they have inherited although I think that they are partially responsible for it. The past budgets proposed by Greg Skrepnak, Todd Vonderheid, Tom Makowski, Tom Pizano, Rose Tucker, Frank Crossin, and an almost endless list of past commissioners, were works of fiction.

Apologies to McGruff for stealing his headline and the Yonk suggests some possible solutions to the impasse.

Deep Throat is deep sixed

The hero of Watergate has passed away.
He secretly guided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as he and his colleague Carl Bernstein pursued the story of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office building, and subsequent revelations of the Nixon administration's campaign of spying and sabotage against its perceived political enemies.
Watergate happened just as I was just old enough to understand that the government could do bad things. I think that the crimes of the past 8 years make Watergate look pale by comparison. There have been plenty of whistleblowers that have revealed the crimes of the Bush Administration but the press and Congress have ignored them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We have a differnt look on the sidebar because Blogrolling has had brain damage for months so I went to the Google alternative that I think will be an improvement. I deleted some sites that haven't updated in a while, which is normal after an election, and added a few.

I have spent all of my Blogging Energy Units for today.

Don't use Internet Explorer until after 1PM

I prefer IE7 but I'm glad I also use Firefox to surf the web.

Cnet News

Microsoft issued a critical security warning Tuesday that a malicious exploit is making the rounds and attacking vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 7.

The risk is believed to be widespread, given that IE 7 is the latest version of Microsoft's browser and is bundled with XP service pack 3 and also Vista, said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee's Avert Labs.

The AZN Trojan, which has been making the rounds since the first week of December, has the potential of infecting users' system with a Trojan horse, or "downloaders" that can download other forms of malware onto a user's system.

Microsoft announced it will release a security patch Wednesday via its automatic update system to patch users computers.

The patch will be available after 1PM. You can still probably use IE7 as long as you don't do anything stupid like click on a link in a spam email. But I'm not taking the chance.

Things are tough all over

The news is full of local and state governments trying to make ends meet. Luzerne County is raising taxes, borrowing yet more money and laying off workers to deal with years of mismanagement and the economic downturn. Mayor Tom Leighton has proposed a budget for Wilkes-Barre that increases fees and jacks up every tax that can be raised. And my little burgh of Plains Township will be increasing the property tax despite all the millions that Mohegan Sun Casino has pumped into our coffers. I have some questions about that and it will be the subject of a future post.

Mayor Lou Barletta is taking an axe to the City of Hazleton's budget trying to avoid a tax increase. He is about $900,000 short of balancing the city's $9 million budget and is proposing to close the gap by canceling a 3% pay raise for employees and requiring them to contribute toward their health care plan. He is also proposing going after people who have not paid the garbage fee and businesses that have not paid the mercantile tax.

With all these hundreds of billions of dollars being thrown around by the Feds to bail out banks, Wall Street investment firms and Auto companies a few dollars to help out our local governments is not an unreasonable request.

Note: I had a chat with Mayor Lou yesterday and he agreed to an interview in the first week of the new year. Send me your questions for his Honor in the comments or email. I'll put up a reminder before we meet. Please keep it clean people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here come da Judge

Luzerne County will be electing at at least one new Judge of the Court of Common Pleas next year and a bunch of lawyers are lining up for a run. The one sure spot that will be contested is Senior Judge (past President Judge) Michael Conahan's seat and it looks likely that Ann Lokuta will be replaced depending what happens with her appeal. Depending on the outcome of the myriad of investigations going on we may have to pick one or two more jurists. That may be 4 seats all together. has been keeping the scorecard of who might be running. Some of the names he has tossed out are:

Joe Terrana, Tom O’Connor, Jackie Carroll Musto, Lisa Gelb, Fred Pierantoni, CJ Bufalino, Mark Bufalino, Rose Randazzo, Eugene Sperazza, Joe Cosgrove, Ray Hassey and Mike Vough.

And these are only Pittston area attorneys! I'm sure there are Barristers from Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and the Back Mountain that are considering a run.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What the hell is a Prothonotary?

One of my most popular posts is What the hell is a Prothonotary?

Incumbent Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran should not seek reelection. I have an archive of her missteps and will repeat them if she decides to run again.

I've heard a few names that are willing to take on the challenge. We really need Home Rule.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Economic Human Rights Speaker Series

NEPA Organizing Center to Host Presentation on the Economic Crisis

The Center will be hosting Chris Caruso, PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center, on Wednesday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m. as part of our Economic Human Rights Speaker Series.

Mr. Caruso will be clearly outlining the roots and manifestations of the present housing market collapse and economic crisis, and we invite the public to attend this presentation and discussion.
Any local residents, organizations, or community leaders interested in participating are encouraged to join us on Dec. 17th or to contact us at

YouTube weekend

McGruff has joined in on this YouTube Weekend thing with Robin Williams On Obama's Election

President-elect Barack Obama's struggles with the evil tobacco weed is in the news again.

I know what Barry is going through because it's easy to quit smoking, I've done it about 6 times. For all the gimmicks and crutches out there that will make your wallet lighter the only way to do it is.....

Cold turkey..........John Lennon

In other news

Supreme Court Overturns Bush v. Gore

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Pennsylvania Society meets in New York

"I don't know anyone who's been bought at Pennsylvania Society, Rented maybe -- but not bought." - Montgomery County Republican Ken Davis

Again I haven't been invited to any of the swanky parties this weekend. It must have been an oversight because I was ready to cash in my aluminum cans at Bilecki's Junk Yard to finance the trip.

The big news is that Tweety won't be attending according to Politico: Chris Matthews no longer plans to attend a ritzy Saturday night dinner hosted by the Pennsylvania Society, as Politico reported earlier. Matthews informed the event organizer that he and his wife could no longer attend, according to the organizer's assistant.

There will be plenty of other office seekers making the rounds. The list of potential Governor's includes Tom Corbett, Pat Meehan, Don Cunningham, Tom Wolf, Tom Knox, Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner and Jim Gerlach who will all be pressing the flesh at various soirees. And Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey plan to attend. I've asked some of our local office holders if they plan to take part and will update when they get back to me.

The last few years Gene Stilp has sponsored a pot luck dinner at the capitol in Harrisburg at the same time but I'm not sure if he is doing it this year. There has been grumbling about the fact that this event has been held out of state forever and many people think it should be held in the Commonwealth but as Governor Rendell said "People say if you had it in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh no one would come." That would break my heart.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Luzerne County Controller

Acting Controller A.J. Martinelli has put 21st Century Appraisals on notice that the reassessment gravy train has limits.

TL: “Therefore, I am placing you on notice that as a supervisor of the fiscal affairs of the county, I will not pay any bills for any unauthorized and unwanted services that you force upon the county, for the reasons stated in this letter.”

Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla was the the previous Controller replacing Steve Flood who asked a lot of of uncomfortable questions about the PA Child Care lease and other things. There is no way to tell but I think the debit card scandal and the no bid contracts at the prison would have come to light earlier if Flood had a 2nd term.

Governor Rendell was supposed to appoint a new Controller with the consent of the State Senate but he punted. A couple of people applied for the job but they were ignored. Former Wyoming Valley West School District superintendent Augie Piazza wanted the post but I haven't heard if he is running next year. PittstonPolitics reports that former Pittston Area School Director Tony Rostock has been shaking the bushes and a potential rival let everybody know that he got a $30,000 no bid contract at LCCC. That potential rival is Wil Toole.

Wil Toole wanting to be a fiscal watchdog has to one of the funniest things I've ever heard. He charged thousands of hours of overtime to Pittston City and is now suing because he contends that the city should pay for his wife's health insurance indefinitely. He is good at lawsuits.

Piazza, Rostock and Toole are all Democrats.

I think we need a Controller from the other party. The Dems have been in charge for too long and have become arrogant and reckless although Petrilla and her new BFF Steve Urban is trying to right the ship.

The only Republican name that I have heard that is willing to take a stab at running for Controller is Bob Sypniewski. We have a draft Bob movement going on in the comments but he is reluctant to make the run so let's encourage him.

Update from the inbox:

Dear Gort,

I am also contemplating a run for the Luzerne County Controller Position...I am a republican that really cares about the lack of accountability of our elected officials and will work hard for the Taxpayers of Luzerne County...

Walter L Griffith JR
Luzerne County Taxpayer and Activist

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dan Meuser speaks

Unsuccessful Republican PA 10th CD candidate Dan Meuser was interviewed by Chris Freind of The Bulletin.

He said that the Republicans got blown out in the last 2 elections because "We did a terrible job telling the average voter what we were going to do for them and poorly articulated how our policies would affect people's everyday lives." He claims that PA voters are "center right" and reminds us that Nancy Pelosi is a liberal bogeyman. He repeats the Republican mantra that tax cuts are the best solution to every problem that we face and he likes Mitt Romney for President.

He does have a good idea for party building "We need to immediately start organizing our party and reaching out to perspective voters as they turn 18, invite College Republicans to our events and have strong local party leadership. We can work together with the County organizations and committee people to set and exceed voter registration goals."

Some of the comments at GrassrootsPA about this article are surprising. One poster even accuses Meuser of undermining Republican nominee Chris Hackett.

Ann Lokuta booted

Pending appeal

HARRISBURG - Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta will be removed from the bench, the state Court of Judicial Discipline ruled in a 6-1 decision today. Lokuta will not be allowed to hold any other court office.

I agree with the Yonk: This punishment does not fit the crime or perceived crimes... Lokuta is gone because all of her fellow Judges (two who have some worries ahead of them I've heard) complained about her behavior. The staff on the third floor was angry because the Judge, a working class daughter of coal miner parents didn't think anyone born on third base was entitled to say they hit a triple. So they got even. And they won.

Her cooperation with the investigation of the business dealings of then President Judge Michael Conahan may have played a roll in this. And it's no secret that they can't stand each other and Conahan was behind the charges being brought against her.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Take me out to the ballgame

Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been beaten up in the press the last couple of days because he went to a Washington Nationals game as the guest of a Freddie Mac executive. It doesn't look good but I really doubt that Kanjo can be bought off with a baseball ticket

And he is pissed.

WASHINGTON - Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) provided the statement below about the Associated Press article that recently appeared about Freddie Mac and Members of Congress.

"As early as 2000, I have consistently and vocally promoted a strong, independent, world-class regulator for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae with the resources needed to get the job done. Unfortunately, President Bush, with the support of some Republican Members of Congress, obstructed efforts to improve the regulation of these government-sponsored enterprises. In 2005, with my strong support, the House Financial Services Committee, on a bipartisan basis, passed a comprehensive reform bill. A short time later, the bill passed the House, but this legislation died in the Senate in part because of the lack of support in the White House. Mike Oxley (R-OH), the Republican Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee at the time blamed the White House for failing to pass the bill and causing the current crisis with Fannie and Freddie, stating ‘What did we get from the White House? We got a one-finger salute.' When the Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006, we made regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae a priority and passed a regulatory reform bill in May 2007, which the Senate passed and the President finally signed a year later. I only wish that the President had heeded warnings earlier about the need to act.

"Finally, there are strict rules prohibiting Members of Congress from receiving most gifts. I have never violated those rules. The ticket to attend the opening game of the Washington Nationals was valued at less than $50, which was the gift limit at that time. The Associated Press article misled its readers by refusing to include this information in the piece. Furthermore, it is ludicrous to suggest that my positions on policy could be influenced by any factors other than the merits of the policy."


Patrick Murphy for Senate

According to a story in Roll Call Bucks County Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-8) is looking at taking on Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010. His top aide said "he’s looking at it very strongly right now.”

Murphy is an Iraq war vet who easily won a 2nd term in Congress taking 57% of the vote in November. He is a proven fundraiser raking in almost $4 million this cycle and would probably need at least $20 million for a Senate bid. He has some local ties being a graduate of Kings College and his brother JJ Murphy is the Wilkes-Barre City Administrator. JJ is an Air Force Reserve officer who was recently called up to active duty and deployed to the Horn of Africa. Another local connection is that he once told me that he reads my blog.

The buzz about Chris Matthews running for the seat took a hit when Politico reported he has signed a long-term contract with MSNBC to keep hosting Hardball. Some other reports say he is house shopping in Philadelphia and the latest Rasmussen poll has him trailing by just three percentage points, 46% to 43%. Other polls have him way down. The crew over at PAWaterCooler have had a collective tingle going up their legs at the possibility and will be very disappointed if he doesn't make the race. We will see. The Rain Man pointed out something I didn't even think of. Imagine Tweety at a confirmation hearing grilling a nominee and telling the guy "you don't know what you're talking about." Pat Toomey came close to knocking off Specter in the 2004 Republican primary ( he may try again) and Tweety made mince meat of him on an appearance his show. What a great debate that would be!
If Matthews decides not to make the Senate primary a circus another serious candidate is Allyson Schwartz.

We're expecting

Not having a dog has left a big hole in our lives. We weren't looking to get another dog soon but a series of events led us to this guy. Now for a name.
At first Lincoln seemed OK but it doesn't fit a Golden Retriever. Joe the Dog was also ruled out and all of my ideas have been shot down. Banquo from MacBeth, Barre after Isaac Barre and Durkee as in Maj. John Durkee, one of the founders of Wilkes-Barre. We have 2 weeks to come up with a name.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

YouTube weekend

I have mixed feelings on the the auto bailout. On the one hand the free market means you have the freedom to fail but we can't really afford to lose millions of jobs and a big chunk of our industrial base. Plus I hate corporate welfare. As far as the fate of the CEO's and the other suits.....

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Bush farewell tour

Dubya has been all over the TV this last week trying to rewrite history and offering excuses for everything that has gone wrong over the last 8 years. Despite my repeated offer/request/plea that the present occupant of the White House write a guest post for Gort42 he never got back to me for some reason. Maybe when he had the time to write something he chose to clear brush, fall off his bike or stab himself with a pretzel instead.
He did find time to write-up something for the Onion
Oh, America. Eight years went by so fast, didn't they? I feel like I hardly got to know you and methodically undermine everything you once stood for. But I guess all good things must come to an end, and even though you know I would love to stick around for another year or four—maybe privatize Social Security or get us into Iran—I'm afraid it's time to go. But before I leave, let me say, from the bottom of my heart: I can't think of another country I would've rather led to the brink of collapse.
Boy, oh boy, if these Oval Office walls could talk. Seems like it was only yesterday that I started my first term despite having actually lost to Al Gore by more than a half million votes. Hmm. We were all so young and peaceful then. Gosh, gas was still under $2 a gallon! On my watch it peaked at more than twice that. Never getting it up to $6 or ideally $7.50 will be one of my few regrets when I leave office.
It's just gonna be so hard packing up my things and heading off into the sunset come January. I wish I could go on forever giving massive and disastrous tax cuts to the wealthy, taking the country from a surplus to a deficit—nearly $500 billion this year, likely to pass $1 trillion next year, fingers crossed—and just generally doing irreparable damage to the very underpinnings of our economy, but, well, I'm afraid the Constitution says I can't. And not even I can overrule the Constitution. Though Lord knows I tried! Initiating blanket wiretaps without warrants, suspending habeas corpus for prisoners in Guantanamo, infiltrating an unknown number of nonviolent civilian antiwar groups without permission… such wonderful memories. I'm going to cherish them forever.
My fellow Americans, I only hope that every time you have your civil liberties encroached upon by the Patriot Act, you'll think of me.
Everywhere I look brings back memories. The Blue Room is where Laura and I put up our first White House Christmas tree. Down the hall, in the East Room, is where I concocted my favorite signing statement to circumvent the anti-torture guidelines of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, and—ooh!—right across the way is where Cheney and I decided to use the death of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and the nation's subsequent fear of another attack as an excuse to carry out our long-standing plan to invade Iraq. I should really get a picture before I leave.
Speaking of pictures, whenever I look at the dusty old newspaper photos of those tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib or the crumpled ruins of that bridge in Minnesota, I can hold my head up high knowing that I truly fucked this nation—physically and symbolically—beyond repair. I only wish I had the time to destroy a couple more major American cities.
And Cheney, I almost forgot about Cheney. What a guy, huh? I can't believe that in a few short weeks he's never going to talk to me again. The stories I could tell you about what went on in some of those back rooms—well, you wouldn't believe me if I declassified the memos. I don't know, maybe in 20 years, when the economy has rebounded and the people displaced by Katrina have rebuilt their lives from scratch with almost no federal assistance, Cheney and I can meet up again in the Rose Garden and reminisce over the good old days, when it seemed like there was no part of this great country we couldn't ruin forever.
What am I going to do once I'm no longer president? I've gotten so used to waking up every day, playing fetch with the dogs on the White House lawn, and then spending a lazy afternoon shredding every last bit of our good will abroad in a mind-boggling display of diplomatic incompetence.
The worst part about leaving is knowing I can never screw up anything this big again. Don't get me wrong, I'm only 62. I could still bankrupt an oil company, or become the next MLB commissioner and ruin baseball. But I'll never get the opportunity to fuck up on this massive of a scale again. Even if you put me back in charge for another term, I could only take the U.S. from a rapidly declining world power to not a world power at all. I don't mean to gloat, but I think it's safe to say that no one can ever unseat the American empire like I unseated the American empire.
Still, I have to admit, sometimes I think I could've dismantled so much more. The very fact that the environment still exists, that a mere 4,000 troops have died in Iraq, that there is still the slightest glimmer of hope for the future left in this nation—it's easy to feel like maybe I didn't do my job. But no, no, there's no use having any regret. I fucked everything up the best I could and that's good enough for me.
You know, I've got a few weeks left. I could still illegally fire some U.S. attorneys for political reasons, or finally get rid of that pesky separation between church and state. Or maybe I could just bomb a place. Like Russia. But this time, I would really savor it.
As long as I live, America, I'll never forget irreparably ruining you. Unless we all die in a nuclear war or calamitous environmental disaster brought on by my neglect. Either way, I'll see you all in heaven!

Note to The Onion Lawyers: I know I went past fair use by reprinting the whole thing, please forgive me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Luzerne County scandals

SCRANTON – The U.S. Secret Service has concluded its initial investigation into the Luzerne County debit card scandal and has turned over the results to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

Forget the Secret Service and the US Attorney General the agency that matters in this is the IRS. I think it's pretty simple. If the people who had the debit cards in 2006 and charged personal expenses to it without declaring it as income on that year's 1040 should have to answer to charges of tax evasion.

Also, there has to be a Pennsylvania law about then County Manager/Chief Clerk Sam Guesto having a slush fund to pay the bills for Sam Hyder's trips to strip bars, etc. that then Controller Maryanne Petrilla claims she was not aware of. I don't know if any federal laws were broken but the PA Auditor General and Attorney General should be all over this.

Some of my previous posts on this and other related subjects:

Debit Cards

Sam Hyder

Luzerne County Prison


No Bid Contracts

The Latest Outrage in Luzerne County

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Idiot watch

Joe the pickup owner is driving around the Pittston area with a sign in the rear window that reads,

If your in America and can’t speak English, get the Fuck out.

Check out how "you're" is spelled. The police cited him for disorderly conduct because he used an obscenity in the message, adding that children walking to Pittston Area middle and elementary schools might see it. OMG, the children might just melt or become mass murderers if they read or hear a dirty word. I hope the Hughestown police drop this before it becomes a circus involving the ACLU and Focus on the Family.

The way I see it is that some local yokel wants to be the next Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, who is famous for posting a sign at his restaurant that says “This is America. When Ordering, Speak English.” But since that has already been done Mr. Decker decided to spice up the message.

Maybe he was a classmate of this guy

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2009 elections

In Luzerne County we will be electing a Controller, Prothonotary, Register of Wills and Jury Commissioners. The Controller's spot has been vacant since Maryanne Petrilla was elected Commissioner and Rapid Edward has not nominated a replacement. Incumbent Prothontary Jill Moran has drawn some fire about her work habits and business dealings and the speculation is that she will not seek a third term. Democrat Dottie Stankovic was unopposed in the general election four years ago although the good old boys tried to knock her off in the primary. Jerry Bonner is the Democratic Jury Commissioner and I can't even remember who holds the Republican slot.

Jobs like Prothonotary and Register of Wills are clerical positions that should not even be elected offices. Same goes for Jury Commissioner who's only official duty is to once a year hit the print button on a computer to get a list of prospective jurors. But we will have elections for these jobs until we get Home Rule.

As usual the action will be in the Democratic primary that will probably make the November election a formality. I hope that I'm wrong about that prediction and new county GOP Chairman Terry Casey can recruit some quality candidates and the back mountain money guys raise some serious cash for them.

I will be posting some scuttlebutt about who may be running for these positions in the coming days. If you have heard any names being tossed around let me know in the comments or toss me an email.

We will also get to pick at least one new Judge plus various school board members and municipal offices.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Liz Sichler resigns

Elizabeth Sichler was the vice-chair of the Luzerne County Republican Party until she resigned on November 12th. Party Chairman Terry Casey said she quit because "business is tough."

She is famous for finding ways to get other candidates kicked off the ballot and until recently was the right hand of Rep Karen Boback.

It looks like business is tough for her company, Priority Search Inc. in Kingston. The local papers are reporting that the Secret Service is investigating the outfit because it didn't carry out it's responsibilities and some money is missing. One the people who has been burned by this outfit is 2007 Republican Commissioner candidate Bill Jones who might be giving it another try in 2011.

Remember that Liz has not been charged with a crime, yet.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Luzerne County budget

For the first time time since I have been blogging the Luzerne County Commissioners have proposed a realistic budget. It has a lot of pain that could have been avoided if past administrations didn't inflate revenue projections to avoid a tax increase then scramble the next year to borrow the money they knew they didn't have.

The previous regime of the Bond Brothers, present minority Commissioner Greg Skrepnak and past commissioner Todd Vonderheid (who moved on to the Chamber of Commerce), and people before them presented works of fiction that counted on money from land sales that never happened and more aggressive tax collection, etc. When that didn't work out they floated another bond so now the county is just about tapped out on how much debt it can take on. No new prison or anything else.

Majority Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Stephen Urban have come up with a mix of tax increases, fees, borrowing and layoffs to try to bring some sanity back into the process. I hate the layoff and borrowing parts but they are being up front about it instead of waiting until January to drop a bomb.

Now the question is will the row officers and the courts go along with this plan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is a time for family

A guest post.


By Mean Old Man

I can’t stand the fact that it is once again the stupid holiday of Thanksgiving!!! Every year I have to put up with my dimwit relatives and their cackling kids playing Frisbee with my Perry Como albums while I'm trying to take a damned nap!! Well, at least this year I don't have to drag myself over to my stupid son Harlan's place to eat his harlot wife's turkey loaf with Stove Top Stuffing!! Hell, I wouldn't feed that tripe to a liberal!!!!!

But having the holiday here at the ol' homestead ain't no picnic either. The whole disaster starts at around 10 that morning when the first of the wrecking crew arrives. It usually is Thelma Jean's brother Judd--now I ain't one to cast judgments but I think he's one of those "funny boys" (if you know what I mean) what with his manicured nails, his fancy suits, the six pack of Zima, not to mention the fact that he always shows up with his "fishing buddy" Hal. I was stuck one year alone in the living room talking to these two bozos and I can tell you that they really creeped me out; I was more relaxed being under a bare light bulb during an interrogation by a Japanese Lieutenant during WWII. Damn!!!!

Of course, my stupid sons and their spawns arrive around noon; that's when the headaches really start. My son Clay's dense wife Jill always feels as if she has to bring dessert. She comes in with this liquid concoction settled in a granite shell which she calls pumpkin pie. She says that it's a secret family recipe; if I came up with that dumb recipe I'd keep it a secret too. The pie, however does come in handy for keeping the ol' barn door open on windy days.

I always keep looking at my trusty pocket watch, hoping that time flies and they will all go the hell home.
When Thelma Jean finally plops the turkey on the table, well, you've never seen anything like it. I swear that the pigs in my pen show more class and manners while they're eating!! I have to train my eyes to look only at my plate, otherwise I see my snot nosed grandkids chewing with their mouths wide open, my stupid daughter in law pasting on her bordello style lipstick every twenty seconds and my dumb brother in law Judd insisting that eating any kind of meat is a sin and unhealthy (I told you he was "funny") and on and on and on. I'm sure that even you commies who read this twirpy webpage can understand where I am coming from.

Then after dinner the real fun starts because the punk grandkids have to play, but don't dare tell them to take it outside. It's usually cold or rainy and, of course, that'll kill a little kid. Kids today are such wimps, they don't know anything about adventure. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was a tyke and it was snowing like the Yukon outside, the wind was blowing at around 80 m.p.h. My old man stuffed his gut, popped open a Steg, and went into the living room to listen to the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Thanksgiving Hour on the trusty teardrop radio. But before he did any of this he opened the door and kicked me out of it. I wandered around in the snow (which was up to my chin) for what seemed like hours. When the show was over and he let me inside I had blue skin, my lips were all chapped from the cold, I was disoriented and my ears were burning up. It was horrendous, painful and degrading for a child. And I loved it!!!! Because my old man taught me something, he taught me to be tough and to have character!!! Not like the wimpy kids today who tell the parents to go outside!!

So the little runts will be running around the house and throwing things, complaining and crying that they want to go home. Sometimes to get them off of my back I'll call them over to my chair in the corner and rip my false teeth out of my mouth. The look of fright on their little faces is almost worth the six hours of misery that I have to go through. It's usually after this that my hippie sons and their wives get mad at me and leave the house crying. Then, if I can dodge Thelma Jean's pie roller from cracking my skull, it’s Wheel of Fortune time!

Well, all you damned commies, enjoy your Thanksgiving. Maybe you'll luck out and Sarah Palin will bring a fresh killed turkey to your door (though I doubt any of you eat meat); as for me, I'm quickly eating dinner, heading to the attic with a few bottles of Steg and a pack of Lucky's (LSMFT), and my Perry Como albums, along with a toothbrush to polish up my false teeth for later on. Happy Turkey Day. I hate you all!!!!!!!

Can Bush pardon himself?

Some people think so. Ford pardoned Nixon for "all offenses against the United States which he … has committed or may have committed." And his father let Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger off the hook over Iran-Contra. The news yesterday is that he pardoned 14 individuals mostly for drug crimes which tells you that something is wrong with the drug laws that have been a total failure over the last 50 years.

Now the chatter is about Bush granting preemptive pardons to people who have been accused of violating the Geneva Conventions and American law prohibiting torture among other crimes.

Since this is Thanksgiving the press is focused on the White House Turkey ritual. Somehow Scooter Libby got in on the act.

The Onion: In Thanksgiving Tradition, Bush Pardons Scooter Libby In Giant Turkey Costume

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The bailouts

The latest focus is on the auto industry wanting some government money after the failure of Bear Stearns

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Goldman Sachs
Morgan Stanley
American International Group

And many others. Today Citigroup has been added to the list.

I'm dismayed that some of my conservative friends are blaming the unions for the collapse of Detroit. Did the unions cause the collapse of the big financial companies? I know a few people that work for CitiBank and not one of them belong to a union and they are hourly employees.

I haven't read a liberal or conservative blogger or talked to a Republican or Democratic voter that agrees with what is going on but we keep hearing the same mantra that Margaret Thatcher was famous for when I lived in England, "There is no alternative."

I can't get my arms around what has happened in the last month and I'm an Economics major. As a rule I don't like it when the government goes into panic pass mode because they usually get it wrong, think the Patriot Act or the MCA.

As a minimum we should expect some accountability from these companies such as the firing the top management of these not now going concerns and limits on any future compensation for their successors. The auto execs showed how tone deaf they are to the mood of the country by flying into Washington on private jets with while asking for a hand out. This past week's exchange between Congressman Paul Kanjorski and GM CEO Rick Wagoner shows how arrogant and out of touch these guys are. Kanjo asked Wagoner a simple question that he couldn't answer.
"How Much money do you need until March 30th?" And he couldn't give a straight answer.

Auto CEOs Tell Congress Why They Need $25b

Blogger news

Naticoke blogger DB Echo latest project is called The Stained Glass Project, in which I am attempting to photographically preserve the stained glass windows of my parish church, Our Lady of Czestochowa (St. Mary's) in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Erin Moody of the Citizens Voice has a nice write up of his efforts.

Framing stained glass snapshots

If the church closes for regular services and is used for only an occasional wedding or special service, Jenkins, 40, worried that the windows might be damaged or removed. Even if the building is maintained, if the church doors are closed most of the time, the only way to see the windows will be from the outside, with nothing lighting them up from behind to make the images clear and colorful.So, while waiting for his cousin’s wedding to begin, Jenkins pulled out his camera and started clicking. Several weeks later, he’s still taking pictures, trying to get the best photos of each decorative window in the church.
“I’m trying to do it all,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying to preserve it not only for myself but for anyone else.”

Check out the whole series at Another Monkey.

I noticed that I have some dead links on the sidebar but right now I can't delete them or add new sites because Blogrolling has brain damage. When/if they fix the problem I will be adding and Keystone Progress.

And one of my first blog buddies (where are you LVDem?) has decided to take a break. Above Average Jane has a full family schedule and needs to rehab her pitching shoulder so her blog will be put on the back burner. I have learned many lessons reading her blog but the one that stands out is her knack for finding the local angle to a national story that I have tried to emulate on my site. Thanks "Schoolmarm of the Local Blogosphere."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Busy weekend

So many email alerts, comments and messages. I will get back to you sometime this week.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

President Kennedy

Today is the 45th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's shooting in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald (and maybe some other people).. I usually discount conspiracy talk but when you look at the Zapruder film it's obvious that the 3rd shot came from the front. The thing that always bothered me about Oswald is he had to have been watched by the FBI or some other agency. A Marine who defects to the Soviet Union, get's mixed up with pro-Castro groups and even visits the USSR embassy in Mexico City that the CIA knew about. With that kind of track record today you would be whisked off to Gitmo or somewhere else.

"Seconds" by Human League

Abraham. Martin, John & Bobby

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bailout Boscovs

A few weeks ago when I was ranting about the $700 Billion bailout of the banks and Wall Street I asked what I then thought was the facetious question, What the hell, why don't they also bail out Boscovs?

Another lesson in be careful what you ask for. The feds (Republicans) are still busy nationalizing the commanding heights of the economy (socialism) and now the state and local governments are getting in on the act.

W-B, Scranton to loan Boscov’s $3 million each
Gov. Ed Rendell (Democrats) also secures $35 million to aid family regain Boscov’s chain.

State and city money is said not to be at risk because they are using federal funds in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by HUD. According to the TL story the money comes from a pool of money that is separate from the CDBG funds that are used to pave streets and tear down vacant buildings, etc. We will see about that.

Is a local department store chain really too big to fail?

Sarah Palin pardons a turkey

Watch what is going on in the background. Another train wreck TV moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buy a Cadillac and get GM Stock

"What is good for the country is good for General Motors, and what's good for General Motors is good for the country." -Charles Wilson, the head of General Motors and later Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense

A car dealer in Maryland is offering customers 100 shares of GM stock if you buy a used Cadillac which I think is a creative idea. GM stock closed yesterday at $2.79 so if you drop $40K for one of those boats you get a $279 lottery ticket. GM's 52 week high was $29.95 and it looks like the government is not going to let the auto companies go under so it's not a bad bet. Even if the share price recovers only half it's value you can make a tidy profit. I would say the odds are better than buying a PA lottery ticket or pushing some buttons on a slot machine at Mohegan Sun that you would win some money.

Sarah Palin on Desperate Housewives

ABC is denying it.

The Weekly Standard throws it out there.

They got it from a Hollywood gossip site: The creator of the show is enamored of Sarah and sees her as the ultimate guest star [playing] a similar version of herself. The idea has gone over surprisingly well with execs at Disney , who see it as a blockbuster based on Sarah’s huge ratings on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ “

Just add to the jokes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Denise Carey wins and so do the people of Wilkes-Barre

“This definitely was not about the money. It was about the principle. This is a win for the community. Now no one has to be afraid of speaking up. That was the point of this.” -Denise Carey

In 2004 Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton was faced with some tough budget choices and he decided to close the fire house in the Heights section of the city. The people in that neighborhood were understandably upset and worried about their safety but we elect people to make tough decisions for the greater good. I thought it was good call because it would cost a fortune to repair the building that has since been sold.

In 2005, Denise Carey filed a petition to allow voters to decide the fate of the firehouse through a ballot referendum. The city argued some of the 1,300 signatures were collected under false pretenses, and Carey withdrew the petition on the day a county court hearing was scheduled to resolve the dispute. The city asked that Carey pay $11,056 to cover the city’s legal fees and Judge Michael Conahan agreed. The award was overturned on appeal in January 2007. That judgement by Conahan was the heart of this case.

Someone disagreed with a decision of her local government so she took action to oppose it and they tried to ruin her financially. My friend David put it better than I could:

The Council and Leighton thwarted Carey's efforts to try and get the Fire House closing on the ballot. The action against Carey basically said to city residents, if you dare to criticize or God forbid organize in opposition to the City administration policies, and we, the rich, wealthy and powerful will squash you like a bug. Maybe put you in debt, maybe take your home and livelihood away.

TL: "Mayor Leighton may be able to take away a fire station, but don’t let him take away our constitutional rights. A verdict in Denise Carey’s favor tells citizens you are safe. You can speak out and you don’t have to fear that a politician or the government can come back and sock you with a hefty attorney bill.”

In other business Leighton wants money from the state gaming funds for more surveillance cameras in the city. Slots money=Lower property taxes, do any of these politicians remember that?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where are Rachel and Keith?

I usually watch Countdown and the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC when I get home from work. Tonight both hosts are MIA.

What's going on?

Smile, You're on Macaca camera

In 2006 Virginia Senator George Allen reacted to a guy from the Democratic campaign that was following him around with a video camera by calling him a name (slur) that I had never heard before. The resulting storm sunk his reelection.

George Allen introduces Macaca

Since that happened just about every campaign in the country has employed people to follow around the other candidate with a video camera hoping to come up with a similar pot of gold. The TL reports that the Paul Kanjorski camp paid a guy $10,000 to follow around Lou Barletta hoping to catch Mayor Lou saying something stupid.

The videographer, identified as Joe Van Wie of Agapic Films of Scranton, was observed taping Barletta at campaign rallies and fundraisers...Van Wie may have been able to track Barletta because he signed up to be a Barletta campaign volunteer.

This has become an common campaign tactic so there was no need for subterfuge. If a candidate is speaking at a public event it's fair game to videotape it. Chris Carney's camp also had a videographer following around Chris Hackett.

Sights on Pennsylvania has much more about how this affected the Barletta campaign even to the point of refusing to give me Lou's schedule because they didn't want to give a heads up to the video guy. Bad move. I've had various candidates tell me that people showed up at an event because they read it on my blog. The video guy would have found him anyway.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Sunday Newspaper

Enjoy it while you can.

Like many people my age I can credit the Sunday Funnies with helping me learn to read. The comics are still the first part of the paper I go to on the weekend or weekdays for that matter. I know that you can read the comics online but it is just not the same. I enjoy making a mess in the living room as I skim all the different sections usually starting with the sports section then moving on to Opinion/Review and the news. I even like clipping the coupons anticipating my next shopping trip to the grocery store.

The financial news from the publishing industry has been bleak the last few years as the papers try to adapt their business models to the internet age. Every poor financial report from the New York Times brings a gleeful headline on Drudge and other right wing blogs. Be careful for what you ask for folks, if the Times goes under you will lose your favorite whipping boy.

The credit crunch is not helping, forcing the publishers of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to scramble for cash. Jane is reporting that the Inky is now putting an exact copy of the print edition online and charging less than for home delivery. She also gives us an update about Pennsylvania stories that appear in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) every week. The WSJ is a good technical rag but it's not a real newspaper. I look through the thing and I can't find a sports section or the comics let alone a crossword puzzle and NO coupons.

I can't imagine a big city without a daily paper but that just might happen in the next few years. The thing we have going for us in this area is that we are always a few years behind the rest of the country so we will have the print editions of the Voice, Leader and Times after the rest of them go under.

Eagles 13 Bengals 13

Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, right, scores (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

For the first time since 2002 a NFL games has ended in tie. The mighty 1-8 Bengals matched the Eagles in mediocrity. Donovan McNabb had 3 interceptions and they dropped a bunch of passes. The defense played well enough to win but just like last week the lack of a running game sunk them. Well, maybe not sunk but like Joe PA said, a tie "is like kissing your sister." On the up side Mrs. G has found her new favorite name of a player, Houshmandzadeh. She said it's right up there with Vladimir Guerrero.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Secretary of State Hillary

When I first heard this speculation I dismissed it. Why would Hillary Clinton want to give up a Senate seat for life to take a cabinet post and why would Obama want her in the government?

Now I think making Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State is both good politics and good government.

I love all the Machiavelli/Godfather/Team of Rivals references about keeping you enemies closer than your friends. That works in Hollywood and cable TV but that's not all of it.

It's good politics because it would co-opt a rival and avoid sniping from the sidelines.

It would be good government because Hillary has been travelling the world for years and knows many of the players and they know her.

America will present a new united face to the world.

YouTube weekend

Pink Floyd Dog Music Video

I posted some Humphrey pictures on my Facebook page.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Todd Eachus wants to be House majority leader

Luzerne County State Rep. Todd Eachus , who ran the Dems' fall campaign effort, wants to be the majority leader of Pennsylvania House after some modest success increasing the Democratic majority by 2 seats. He is taking on current House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese and Frank Dermody of Oakmont.

From a PR:

“The people of Pennsylvania spoke clearly last Tuesday. They want access to affordable health care for people of all ages. They want to know their children are getting a good education. They want to know that there will be good jobs available for them and for future generations. They want safe roads and bridges and a brighter future for all of us.”

We all want those things but his support of the fantasy cargo airport near Hazleton gives me pause. He inserted a $16.5 million authorization for the cargo airport in a House bill listing projects under the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund. Shortly after that I got a curious piece of mail from Eachus paid for by the taxpayers claiming 100,000 jobs could be created. It was unusual because I'm not even in his district. So far there is no anchor tenant such as FedEx or DHL. Well, forget DHL. The slots money was supposed to be used to lower our property taxes and people like Eachus keep finding new ways to spend it on other projects. Enough of that. They really need to rewrite that law.

According to Capitol Ideas, who gets to read Capitolwire because he has an expense account, DeWeese is probably going to win re-election to his leadership post "unless, of course, he doesn't."