Friday, May 30, 2008

Luzerne County Judges

Skrep must be feeling some relief this week because the focus of the latest outrage in Luzerne County is not on him. I'm somewhat reluctant to criticize our judges because you never know when you might find yourself standing in front of one of them because you got attacked by a tree or something.

A few weeks ago it was revealed that then President Judge Mike Conahan steered over a million dollars of business to his brother-in-law when he was presiding over the juvenile court then it was reported that his successor, Mark Ciavarella, was railroading kids through the system possibly violating their constitutional right to an attorney. Ciavarella sent many of these "delinquents" to the PA Child Care facility owned by Robert Powell. Now the CV is reporting that Ciavarella and Conahan have a business relationship with Powell.

In February Powell was party to a lawsuit that was presided over by Ciavarella that resulted in a $3.4 million verdict that was in Powell's favor. I'm not a legal ethics expert but I would think that a judge should recuse himself from a case that involves one of his business partners.

On a related note Steve Corbett was in lather today on WILK urging people to file a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania about all of this. Right now they are busy conducting a trial of Ann Lokuta because she hurt some peoples feelings and didn't wash her hair everyday.

Ciavarella-Powell relationship questioned

Documents link county judges to project tied to juvie center owner

County officials reviewing options on juvenile facility

Business ties of judges are questioned

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Luzerne County reassessment

The first reassessment of property values in the county since 1965 has been completed and the first wave of notices have gone out to property owners on the west side of the river and people are howling. The local papers and talk radio are full of tales of "sticker shock" and errors by 21st Century Appraisals such as listing buildings on the property that don't exist. One property that has a swamp saw an increase in the land value and my favorite horror story came from an owner of a double block that said one side of the building was valued at $60,000 and the other came in at $85,000 for almost identical properties.

If you want to appeal your new assessment it could cost more than the increase in taxes for the first year. And get this; the best evidence that can be presented is a certified appraisal with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2008. Appraisals with other effective dates won’t hold any weight with the board, even if more recent. So even if you get a new appraisal it will be a waste of money because the appeals board won't even consider it. I will have to check it out further but it sounds like there is not much you can do to dispute the new property values. So beware of lawyers and real estate experts promissing to lower your property taxes for a "modest fee."

For what it's worth there will be a free seminar to learn more about assessment appeals 10-11:30 a.m. June 17 at Genetti Hotel & Convention Center, 77 E. Market St., Wilkes-Barre.

What about the politics of this. The reassessment was supposed to be completed in 2007, but the Bond Brothers found an excuse to push it off another year which cost us another $800,000 that brought the total cost to $8 million and climbing. I can understand why Todd Vonderheid and Greg Skrepenak didn't want to deal with this issue in an election year.

Remember that Skrep took over this process and called Steve Urban a "terrorist" for trying to warn people that they were going to get screwed.

More of my rantings on this subject can be found here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coming and going

I've been a bit busy and don't have time to sound off on the latest news right now so I'll point you to some locals that are.

A couple of regular commenters have started blogging.

Stop the Supply Sider Insanity

Is written by NEPAExpat of Livermore, CA.

One of out of many people forced to leave Northeastern PA due to the nature of local officials incapable or unwilling to make the area a viable economic center once again.

That's How I See It

I find it hard to believe that JediMaster is still in high school because he writes so well. Who says our education system is failing. He says he has been interested in politics since he was 12 years old and that was the age that your humble narrator worked in his first Presidential campaign, for George McGovern.

A young progressive's take on the issues, politics, and other musings.

I'm sad to see that my good friend and 2006 Pennsylvania 11th CD nominee Dr. Joe Leonardi is hanging it up at the The Independent, Conservative, Common Sense Oasis. I'm sure we will hear from Joe again.

And Danny Bauder is back.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

YouTube weekend

Mike Oldfield - Tubular bells

YouTube weekend

Political gaffe edition

This one may just end Hillary Clinton's campaign.

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it,” she said, dismissing calls to drop out.

What Does RFK's Assassination Have to Do with It?

I can usually forgive a stupid statement from a Presidential candidate because they have to talk so much. Obama 's bitter comment or McCain's 100 years war response to a question come to mind.

But this latest one from Hillary is not the first time she has said something similar. Time reports that in March she responded to a question asking if she would drop out of the race:

"No, I really can't. I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."

NBC News is reporting that she included similar remarks in her stump speech in West Virginia and Kentucky.

YouTube weekend

Political gaffe edition

Our colorful Congressman Paul Kanjorski said some things in a town hall meeting in Ashley last August that has the usual suspects howling.

“I’ll tell you my impression. We really in this last election – when I say we, the Democrats – I think pushed it as far as we can, the envelope. Didn’t say it, but we implied it – that we, if we won the congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody who is a good student of government would know that wasn’t true. But you know the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts – and people ate it up.”

Kanjorski Town Meeting 9

I think it was an honest assessment of what happened but in politics if someone actually says something that is true the other side will jump all over them. That's why we all hate "lying politicians."

From a release: "I expressed my belief that some Democrats in 2006 overestimated the ability of a single house of Congress to end the war, particularly in the face of an intransigent president and Senate Republicans who are committed to continuing the war.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Killer trees

WILKES-BARRE Police said Andrew R. Tostevin, 19, of Coopersburg, was found hanging upside down from a tree at North Main and North streets at about 12:36 a.m. Thursday. Police said Tostevin told officers that the tree attacked him. Police said Tostevin was heavily intoxicated and was taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

For some reason this report reminded me of one of Saint Ronny's greatest hits:

Killer Trees.

After opining in August 1980 that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," Reagan arrived at a campaign rally to find a tree decorated with this sign: "Chop me down before I kill again."

Here we go again

Luzerne County is thinking of doing another early retirement incentive with the promise of saving millions in the future.

TL: An early retirement incentive may be offered to 368 Luzerne County employees, county officials said during Wednesday’s retirement board meeting.
If all employees accepted, the incentive would cost anywhere from $6.7 million to $17.4 million, depending on the degree of benefits offered to eligible employees, said Hank Stiehl of the Hay Group, the county pension fund’s actuary...If all take early retirement incentives, Luzerne County could save up to $5.5 million.

The last time they did this the commissioners floated a bond to finance the plan that will cost $23 million over 15 years in the hope of saving $2+million if salaries are kept in check. Then after giving a golden parachute to some employees they hired them back through a temp agency (which one Meuser fans?)and some of them are still working as contractors.

I would like to see an accounting of the "Life Transition Plan" to see if it has actually saved any money.

More on the Life Transition Plan can be found here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More bad news

From my friend Zen of Political Rants:

The war has hit close to home

I found out this morning that my wife's cousin was killed in Afghanistan. Just yesterday I wrote about my take on the war and to hear this tragic news first thing today, has taken the words from me.

The TL: A soldier from Pittston was killed from an explosion while serving in the military in Afghanistan, a family member confirmed late Tuesday evening.
Jeff DePrimo, 35, who reportedly served with a local Army National Guard unit, was killed in combat.


Dimock, PACongressman Chris Carney, a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, will honor local veterans and their families with a Memorial Day Barbeque at the Elk Lake American Legion, of which Carney is a member.

The cook out will take place from 2:00PM to 5:00PM on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2008. All Veterans, active duty soldiers, National Guard and Reserve Members, their families, and members of the community who wish to honor them are invited to attend. Elk Lake American Legion in Susquehanna County, Elk Lake Road, Montrose, PA.
I hope to make it and have an opportunity to ask Chris a few questions. What do you want to ask him?

Meet the candidate

Congressman Paul Kanjorski will be at the Pocono Builder’s Association (PBA) Homebuyer’s and Homeowner’s Education Seminar on Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m at the PMAR offices on Shafers School House Road and business Route 209 in Stroud Township.

If anybody knows where to find Lou Barletta let me know and I will be happy to post it without comment. For some reason I'm not on the press release list which I don't understand.

America's Mayor did send out a PR today that is posted on his site. I think this is the first time I've read something on his website that didn't have to do with immigration. He suggests that the money earmarked for the inflatable dam can be redirected to cleaning up the Susquehanna River and flood control projects, which sounds good.

The problem is that it reveals an ignorance of the legislative process. As the word suggests an "earmark" has to be used for a project that is defined in the legislation. If the project doesn't happen the money is not available for other uses. That $14 million allocated to the dam went poof when it was shot down.

Last fall Kanjo got another $20 million to clean up the river and is working for more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hillary Clinton for Vice President

I can think of many reasons not to put her on the ticket but if she is willing to be the second banana it can work.

Tonight Hillary is winning Kentucky big and later tonight in Oregon Barry is the favorite.

This contest for the Democratic nomination is the best thing for the eventual nominee even if it goes to the convention. More new voters and switchers from the Republicans have swelled the Democratic ranks all over the country.

A new poll on the left side asks if Hillary should be the VP candidate.

Stimulate Me

We got our stimulus payment of $1200 over the weekend. It came just in time to pay our local property taxes and the car insurance bill. With just enough left over to buy a gallon of gas.

John Lester throws a no hitter

What a story this guy is. He was diagnosed with lymphoma two years ago and after undergoing treatment he has been back in the bigs in a big way.

BOSTON (AP) -- Jon Lester has survived cancer and pitched a World Series clincher for the Boston Red Sox.
Now he can add a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments.


Looking at the AL East standings I see that the Red Sox are in first place and the Yankees are in last. I like the sound of that and hope to repeat it the rest of the season.

The Red Sox are in first and the Yankees are in last.

Lifelong Red Sox fan Big Dan has more. I lived in Boston and got to go to Fenway many times which made them my AL team.

The Red Sox are in first and the Yankees are in last.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ted Kennedy

The networks are reporting that he had some sort of seizure but not a stroke that was originally feared.
I met the Liberal Lion about 20 years ago when I was on vacation on Nantucket Island. A bunch of us were in a bar when Ted a few other people walked through the door and sat down at the table next to us. I know it's hard to believe that both me me and Ted could be found in a drinking establishment.
One of my friends spotted him and got all excited and wanted to go over to him which we all counseled against but Jack couldn't be persuaded to let the man just enjoy his evening. So he goes over to his table and starts babbling some thing like Senator Kennedy, Senator Kennedy I think you should be President, I'm from New Hampshire but I would vote for you anytime and some other stuff. Ted was a little taken aback with that sycophantic verbal assault. With a surprised and annoyed look on his face he said "Get the fuck away from me kid." The rest of us watching this exchange erupted in laughter and a round of applause. Jack came back to the table with his tail between his legs and sulked for a while.
Later in the evening Ted came over to us and slapped Jack on the back and apologized for being so short with him. He sat down with us and bought a round and we discussed sailing, a little politics and few other things.
An Update from Coal Region Voice who has first hand knowledge of cancer:
Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, they said.
A personal note. My father died from brain cancer so I hope some people will resist the temptation to make tasteless Chappaquiddick jokes at this time and wish Ted and his family well.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Radio Daze

Some of our local scribes have created a spontaneous blogswarm about Steve Corbett's latest bufoonery on WILK. He is pushing a copy cat idea of Rush's Operation Chaos he dubbed Operation Turndown urging people not to vote for Barack Obama because people have said mean things about Hillary Clinton and he claims the "party bosses" are shoving Obama down our throats. I was listening yesterday and he a had a string of callers claiming to be from Los Angeles, Ohio and even Wyoming all saying the same thing. There is no way to know where these people were calling from but it sure sounded like an "AstroTurf campaign” – a fake grass roots effort.

I never thought I'd ever see Big Dan and Mark agree on anything but they both smell a rat.

Big Dan-Operation Bring Back Sean Hannity:

When the Democratic primary came to Pennsylvania, Corbett's show turned into some kind of bizarre "Whoring for Hillary Show" or the "I Hate Obama Show" (take your pick). And that's all it's been ever since...

If you expect me to believe that people from around the country are listening to local-yokel WILK Steve Corbett's show and calling into it...and it's legit (not like some infomercial), I have a bridge to sell you-the 8th Street Bridge in Wyoming. Wyoming, Pa., right next to me...not the state of Wyoming.

Wilkes-Barre Online-Operation Turndown or: Vote white:

So, caller after caller after caller wholeheartedly agreed with him and vowed on a stack of second-hand Korans to never vote for Barack Obama. And Rodham Corbett ate it up. Yeah, man. Nobody…and I mean nobody is going to call Rodham Corbett a racist. Well, that is, despite the odd fact that those he deemed to be unabashed racists were now calling in and cheering him on. In effect, yesterday, quite by accident, he was the leader of the local racists and he seemed to be relishing the role...

Again, caller after caller after caller said if Barack Obama receives the democratic nomination, they will vote for John McCain in November. And after hearing this most surprising of laments for hours and hours on end, Steve Rodham Corbett concluded, “The way I’m hearin’ it, John McCain is the next president of the United States.”

The LuLac Political Letter-OPERATION TURNDOWN

Corbett as well as others contend that Senator Clinton has gotten a bad shake from the party leadership and that she has been treated shabbily. But the only thing wrong with that logic is that Obama was the “outsider” and Clinton was “the insider”. That said, it doesn’t seem to matter to Corbett and his people

Zen-Corbett's Hillary for President show and an old prediction I made

As you can see, I predicted exactly what would happen. call after call from his lsiteners and even the king douche lapper himself have made it clear that they are for anybody but Obama

Queen - Radio Ga Ga (Extended Version)

Werth puts the Phils back in phirst

Jayson Werth smacked 3 HR's including a Grand Slam and tied a team record with 8 RBIs leading the Phils to a 10-3 win over the Blue Jays. Ryan Howard extended his hit streak to 8 games and Jamie Moyer was solid as usual.

Villano out

The TL confirms what I reported a few months ago. Luzerne County Republican Chairwoman Lynette Villano is not seeking re-election because she wants to spend more time with her family. Given the results of the last few elections that's a wise choice.

The new Chairman will be Terry Casey, a vice president at M&T Bank. I wish him luck because the lack of an effective opposition in the county hurts us all.

Lynette is not going away and will be serving as the Wyoming Valley coordinator for Lou Barletta in his uphill race to unseat Congressman Paul Kanjorski. I hope she is as successful in her efforts for Mayor Lou as she has been for the county GOP.

YouTube weekend

Who's on first?

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today ...

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's infamous sketch "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like this:


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look in the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie I also want to see reel 2, 3 & 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there's three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.


ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?



ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START".......

Friday, May 16, 2008

Luzerne County Republicans

My friend Zen left this comment on an earlier thread:

Please Luzerne County voters, I beg of you, keep voting straight democrat. It will ensure that we have something to write about.

I read similar comments on the Times-Leader website all the time. I would be more than happy to vote for Republicans (sometimes I do) in the county if they would actually field some candidates.

In this upcoming election for the the state house races in the county the 5 Democratic incumbents don't even have a GOP opponent.

In last year's local elections there was no Republican candidate for Judge or District Attorney and the R candidate for Coroner was Dem that won on a write-in after losing the Democratic nomination.

The Commissioner candidates, Steve Urban and Bill Jones, wouldn't even talk to each other and after the election Jones switched to the Dems. The GOP nominee for Clerk of Courts had no money to defeat a 20+ year office holder and the Treasurer hopeful not only had no money she said the only change she would make is requiring licenses for cats.

It's hard to take this bunch seriously.

After the last shutout in 2007 people blamed the debacle on Luzerne County Republican Chairwoman Lynette Villano and they blamed her for the dismal showing in the election before that.

This is what I wrote last year:

From what I hear the local GOP organization resembles a collection of nerdy high school cliques that are getting bullied by the cool kids and will take whatever crumbs fall off the table. ..They can't raise money even though wealthy Republicans in the county regularly give to state and federal candidates. But many of them also contribute to the local Dems because they are smart business people who know that there isn't much chance of a Republican winning anything and want to influence the decision makers.

A new county Republican Chair is supposedly on the way, we''ll see. But Villano is not the whole problem. When I look at FEC and state finance reports I see that there is plenty of local GOP money but the people who donate to state and federal races skip the local ones or donate to the Dems. I find it hard to believe that the local Republicans can't find attractive candidates for local offices and back them financially.

Who is Neville Chamberlain?

This yahoo on Hardball doesn't have a clue. He 's actually yelling louder than Tweety.

Radio Host Kevin James Walks into a Smackdown

Crooks and Liars has the transcript.

Neville Chamberlain was the Prime Minister of Great Britain before WWII.

Like many in Britain who had lived through World War One, Chamberlain was determined to avert another war. His policy of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler culminated in the Munich Agreement in which Britain and France accepted that the Czech region of the Sudetenland should be ceded to Germany. Chamberlain left Munich believing that by appeasing Hitler he had assured 'peace for our time'.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Barefoot and Pregnant crowd backs Barletta

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A national conservative pro-family organization has endorsed Republican Congressional candidate Lou Barletta. Eagle Forum PAC supports the outspoken Hazleton mayor in his 11th Congressional District race against incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski....The Eagle Forum was organized in 1970s and was formerly known as Stop ERA, a group opposed to the equal rights amendment.

Phyllis Schlafly's single issue interest group has expanded into other areas over the years and Eagle Forum now sounds off on many things. On domestic issues the group is opposed to sex education (unless its “abstinence only”), reproductive rights, AIDS education, sexual harassment legislation, federal support for daycare and family leave.

What is "pro-family" about any of that?

Maybe the thinking is if they tell kids not to have sex and not offer information about contraception that will lead to more families when the abstinence advice is ignored. It's always heartwarming to go to a shotgun wedding of two teenagers. And why do you need daycare when we all know that women should stay home to care for the children? I'm sure a 16 year old dropout could find a good paying job to support a family in today's economy.

Eagle Forum (EF) also wants to ostracize the gay members of our families and ban books from libraries that they deem offensive.

The group is also part of the black helicopter crowd opposing the North American Union, the NAFTA Super Highway and a single currency of the US, Canada and Mexico dubbed the "Amero."

But the reason they endorsed America's Mayor is (surprise)his stand on immigration.

Phyllis Schlafly: "Lou's championing of the illegal immigration issue has been truly inspiring. His fight to protect his community from the crime and overcrowding caused by illegal aliens highlights the need for stronger enforcement of our immigration laws."

The EF joins another Barletta fan, David Duke , with a timely endorsement.

Note: Republican 10th CD candidate Chris Hackett was endorsed by the PA chapter of the Eagle Forum in the primary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bad eyesight

”We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” - Leona Hemsley

She would fit right in at the the Luzerne County Courthouse. Newly elected Recorder of Deeds James “Red” O'Brien has been getting a free pass on unpaid taxes dating back to 2003. He owes $17,855 in property taxes for his bar in Avoca which he is trying to sell. Last year's Sheriffs sale of properties that owed back taxes included many homes with unpaid taxes from 2005 and earlier but Red's business wasn't included. Why not? Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla asked Sam Diaz who "said it was an oversight."

Wow, how did we ever get so many people working in the courthouse who can't see what is right in front of their nose? Sam Hyder claimed he used his county debit card at a strip club in Las Vegas because it looked just his own credit card and Commissioner Greg Skrepnak offered a similar excuse when it was revealed that he used his county card to pay for his family's extra hotel rooms at a conference. The lack of competitive bidding at the prison was explained as an oversight or misunderstanding of the law or regulation. And on and on.

With all these officials with eye problems I think that the county should look at hiring an Optometrist to make sure everyone has proper reading glasses and maybe a reading teacher to help them brush up on their comprehension.

I'm sure somebody in the Courthouse has a brother-in-law that is an Optometrist that could provide corrective lenses, just ask Judge Conahan or Ciavarella. No need to advertise the job.

Some bigwigs eventually do pay their taxes. Sam "the untouchable" Guesto, the former county manager and the director of specialty courts , paid off delinquent taxes he owed the county tax claim office last week, he owed $832.84 from unpaid 2007 taxes and fees.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shredding the records

Destroying evidence when an investigation is under way is just stupid. It's not the crime that will sink you but the cover up.

HARRISBURG -- A former intern for the House Democratic Caucus says he was instructed to shred boxes of personnel records later sought in a grand jury probe into whether state employees were given taxpayer-funded bonuses in return for political work...A statewide grand jury is investigating allegations that state workers were given lavish pay bonuses last year to reward them for working on the 2006 campaigns of various House members, a violation of state law...In December, the Post-Gazette reported that a series of e-mails dating back to 2004 showed that a cadre of House Democratic aides used a spreadsheet to rank state employees according to their work on political campaigns and awarded them taxpayer funded pay bonuses according to that ranking.

This has a local angle as my old friend Carl Romanelli points out:

In this investigation they have already found a link to Democrats receiving fat, tax payer funded bonuses to those who worked to depose me and Nader from the ballot. In the Nader case, dozens of emails (which were deleted) were recovered with spread sheets showing the employees were rated on their work against Nader in 2004. The highest rating was "rock star." The so-called volunteer that worked against me, Karen Stiner (a Democratic legislative aid), received a $15,000.00 bonus!!
A full grand jury investigation since September of '07 and there in no coverage in the local media. Business as usual I suppose.

Carl is still active in the Green Party after trying to get on the ballot for Senator in 2006 which ended coming up short. He needed 90,000+ signatures to be listed but the state Democratic Party challenged enough of them to keep his name off.
Luzerne County’s Green Party on Saturday nominated former six-term Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as the party’s choice for president.
The vote of support came at the local party’s caucus, held at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Organizing Center on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre...Locally, there are 407 Green voters in Luzerne County, down from a high-water mark of 535.
Carl provided me with the results of the vote:
The Greens of Luzerne County had its caucus today. We only had voting for a three hour period. There were a total of 10 votes cast today. Cynthia McKinney won with 6 votes. Nader received four.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Busy weekend

We ripped apart the house and porch today which interfered with my blogging time. So be it.

Bob Patterson has some thoughts about the Operation Chaos thing. The local Greens picked a Presidential candidate. Mark is going to change the channel and Another Monkey is trying to fight off the Killer Bees. Danny said he was back. Big Dan tells us that our veterans are not being treated the way they should. Kanjo has sent me a slew of press releases and Barletta said he doesn’t hate immigrants.

And the Yonk has been doing this for 2 years.

The LuLac Political Letter

YouTube weekend

Do you think of me when you.....f ...her...........

Alanis Morissette-You Oughta Know

Saturday, May 10, 2008

YouTube weekend

This is for my friend Ed who claimed to have a trained goldfish which was met with derision by many of us. It looks like he may have been right.

Trained Goldfish does the Limbo!

Trained Goldfish Plays Soccer

A fitting tribute

A group called the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco has launched a ballot initiative that would rename a city sewage treatment plant the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant."
A petition is being circulated that would put the measure up for a vote in November. If it passes, it will rename the city's Oceanside Treatment Plant for the 43rd resident of the White House.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Carney backs Hillary

Chris Carney said he would follow the will of Democratic voters in his district and with 70 percent of the voters in the district picking Clinton he announced that she has his superdelegate vote. From a release:

"I have watched this primary process very closely--and as I said I would do, I have weighed the temperament and leadership displayed by Senators Clinton and Obama during the course of this campaign. We are extremely fortunate to have two very strong candidates vying to lead our nation. Pennsylvania's 10th District overwhelmingly chose Senator Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary and I will respect their decision. On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Clinton, and let her know Thursday that I am supporting her," said Congressman Carney.

Cartoon via PolitickerPA

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Not for Hackett

Another installment of Operation Chaos in reverse.

This is a guest post from my friend Zen of Political Rants.

The unfortunate realities of politics

I spent a portion of my afternoon with Dan Meuser. I have considered Dan a friend for nigh on twenty years. That had literally no bearing on my support for him in the 10TH primary. Had his principles and morals been diametrically opposed to my own, I would've buried him in my blog. The fact is, I have always respected Dan and after today, I respect him even more. He is a man of unquestionable honor that chose the high road in a nasty campaign and was punished for it. I directly asked him why he didn't use the dirt that those of us in the know, know about Hackett. His response; " You know I'm not that kind of guy". By God, that is what I want in my Congressman. The 10TH had the opportunity to have an honorable man represent them and we blew it!!!! Many of you voters in the 10Th listened to an unmitigated load of bullshit from Hackett's hatchet men and voted for the wrong man. If any of you think I write this piece out of bitterness, you are wrong. Dan would've been the kind of leader we need in the 10TH. He would not have been some left coast liberals lapdog like Carney. Hackett changes his opinions depending on who he is speaking to. Sadly, he is the only Republican running. Granted, he won the primary. The how he won it is what sticks in my craw. Chris, you did an incredible amount of damage to my party with your campaign. Yes, I said my party. I don't believe you are a true Republican. I know you are not a true conservative. I've known you for quite a while. I have written that the party needs to mend the fences and get behind you in the general election. I think I may have been wrong.

The Meuser family has made a huge investment in our area. They offer real living wage jobs and opportunity to make a very comfortable income. They do not play favorites based on familial connections. They promote based on merit. They are an honorable family that has done much for the valley. They did not deserve to be called criminals. They did not deserve to be called liars or murderers. For the lies that Hackett's hatchets told, we should shun them. We should not do business with them. We should treat them like the scoundrels they are. They are less than scum. They are smegma. I call on my fellow business people to show our distaste for his campaign's behavior. Rant over.

To Kar; I was wrong and am sorry.To Gort; Thank you for the friendship and intelligent discourse.To Rightwinger; It's been 41.5 years that we know each other, hasn't it? Let's play golf.To my loyal readers; Sorry I didn't coin any new nouns or verbs. This one meant a lot to me.To Dan Meuser; You, Rightwinger, Kar, and Gort42 should play golf. I hope you invite me.

Some Pennsylvania 10th CD news

Tom DeLay's visit to the area got my Democratic friends all riled up as they tried to tie him to Chris Hackett which I think is a stretch.

Delay told a crowd of 50 people that all the charges against him are from "a rogue district attorney."

Chris Carney's camp said "Fresh from the brutally negative primary, Hackett is now bringing the worst kind of Washington values to Pennsylvania in the form of Tom DeLay. People don't want that anymore. Why is Chris Hackett embracing one of the most corrupt and dishonest politicians in decades?

The PA Democratic Party maps out some interesting things. Tom DeLay gave $50,000 to the Club for Growth and Pat Toomey. Toomey buys $86,810 in negative television ads to attack Dan Meuser... Pat Toomey donated money to Tom DeLay, for his legal expenses facing trail after DeLay is indicted.

Mark Harris, Mr. Hackett’s spokesman, said the challenger had nothing to do with Mr. DeLay’s visit. “We were never invited, and no one ever contacted us.”

The DCCC provides us with a list of Tom Delay's greatest hits:

In May 2006, DeLay Retired Before The Ethics Committee Could Fully Investigate His Many Overseas Trips. [House Ethics Committee press release, 5/17/06]

In 2005, DeLay and Associates were indicted on money laundering charges and conspiracy to commit money laundering in order to circumvent Texas ’s ban on using corporate money to fund political campaigns. DeLay’s TRMPAC was ordered to pay $196,000 in damages to Democrats and over ARMPAC was ordered to shut down its soft money operation for violating campaign finance laws. [Houston Chronicle, 5/27/05] [Associated Press, 5/26/05], [CNN, 5/26/05], [Roll Call, 10/27/05]

In 2004, DeLay Was Admonished By House Ethics Committee for Abuse of Power. In 2004, the House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for the third time for abusing his influence during the Texas redistricting fight, highlighting certain, “House rules that bar members from taking ‘any official action on the basis of the partisan affiliation . . . of the individuals involved.’” DeLay used his position as Majority Leader to make the Federal Aviation Administration track the private plane. He then tried to make the legislators return to Austin . The Ethics Committee observed that, “DeLay’s role in the matter ‘raises serious concerns under these standards of conduct.’” [Washington Post, 10/7/04]

In 2004, DeLay Was Admonished By House Ethics Committee Over Medicare Bribes. In 2004, after a six month investigation, “House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was admonished by the House ethics committee for using improper bargaining to try to persuade a fellow Republican to change his vote on a Medicare prescription drug bill.” DeLay had tried to persuade Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI.) to vote for a Medicare prescription drug bill, which “narrowly passed.” Smith, who voted against the bill, said that GOP leaders offered “bribes and special deals,” including a large contribution of “$100,000-plus” for his son’s congressional campaign. [AP, 10/1/04; Washington Post, 2/6/04, New York Times, 2/10/04]

In 2003, DeLay Offered Endorsement for Vote on Medicare Bill. Tom DeLay was admonished for his role in pressure Rep. Nick Smith to support Medicare legislation in 2003 in exchange for an endorsement of his son Brad in the Republican primary race to succeed Rep. Smith. [ Washington Post, 10/02/04]

Since 2001, DeLay’s Wife and Daughter Were Paid Over $500,000 from His Political Groups. DeLay's political action and campaign committees have paid his wife and daughter over $500,000. DeLay’s daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, has received about $30,000 from DeLay’s Texas political action committee TRMPAC, which was dismantled after a Texas judge in a civil case found it funneled corporate contributions to state legislative elections. [New York Times, 4/6/05; Associated Press, 5/26/05]

In 2000, DCCC Filed RICO Lawsuit. In 2000, the DCCC filed charges against Tom DeLay saying DeLay and his related organizations are acting outside the law and violate RICO by “racketeering through extortion, money laundering, and monetary transactions in illegal proceeds” and recounted allegations of pressure tactics by DeLay to force trade groups and lobbying organizations to stop supporting Democrats. [Roll Call, 9/11/00]

In 1998 DeLay Was Admonished By House Ethics Committee For Involvement In K Street Project. In 1998, according to Roll Call, “DeLay’s endeavor to force the Electronics Industry Association to back off its choice resulted in unwanted publicity and a formal admonishment of the Texas Republican by the House Ethics Committee.” DeLay continued to try to frontload K Street with GOP lobbyists even though he was admonished by the House Ethics Committee for doing just that. [Roll Call, 3/12/01, Roll Call, 2/11/04]

In 1998, DeLay Was Admonished By House Ethics Committee For Involvement In K Street Project. DeLay was admonished by the House Ethics Committee for his involvement with a group that pressured lobbyists to hire Republicans and donate to their campaigns, commonly known as the “K Street Project.” DeLay’s admonishment was sparked by his effort to force the Electronics Industry Association to hire a Republican as opposed to their choice, a Democrat. In 2004, DeLay re-launched his K Street Project. “After privately fuming for years, DeLay sat down with a group of his top lieutenants two weeks ago to figure out how to get GOP lobbyists to contribute the maximum $4,000 allowable to vulnerable Republican candidates, as well as giving the $25,000 limit to the National Republican Congressional Committee.” [Roll Call, 3/12/01, Roll Call, 2/11/04]

In 1997 Abramoff Organized A Trip For DeLay That Was Paid For By Saipan Garment Interests. DeLay traveled with his wife and daughter and several aides including Ed Buckham. DeLay did not declare this trip on Congressional disclosure reports. [ABC News, 4/6/05; Associated Press, 3/30/05; Time 3/21/05]

The Presidential race so far

From Slate via PolitickerPA

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dissent of the Day

An Open Letter to Barack Obama by Professor Milburn Cleaver
Dear Senator,
I am most certain that you have read John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”; I now ask of you to personally add one more chapter to this publication. Your candidacy has inspired thousands of your fellow Americans, particularly the young people. It rose above the country like a phoenix, but it now appears that the glitter is fading. The attacks which are being leveled at you are a shame, but what surprises me is that you yourself are surprised at the harshness of them. When one runs for President, Senator, one must expect to dodge many arrows. This is a fact that your Democratic opponent Mrs. Clinton fully understands from personal experience.
You are without a doubt a man of honor and integrity; a man who if elected President will strive to be above the fray, refrain from backroom deals and politics as usual. You are not, however the first presidential candidate to preach these virtues. Jimmy Carter himself stood by principle and despite the fact that he had large majorities in both houses of Congress, he did not accomplish a single domestic achievement and (save for the Camp David treaties) was steward over a disastrous foreign policy. In short, Senator you are well intentioned, however your naivete, like Carter's is alarming.
The truth is Senator that the type of government of which you and the young children who support you aspire for does not exist. It has never existed, even in the days of Washington and Lincoln. There has always been partisanship in Congress and there has always been infighting. And yes, there have always been dirty campaigns; for example Andrew Jackson’s wife being accused of prostitution makes even the most vicious political attacks today pale by comparison. The list goes on and on throughout our history.
Our country, indeed our world has seen massive technological innovation in the past ten or fifteen years. Gadgets such as cell phones with computers have made information available instantly. Unfortunately, as we have progressed with our technology we have conceded our common sense. Americans today are more gullible than ever before and we shall be prepared to believe anything that the dime store fiction writers send our way. Since you are now the perceived nominee you are on top of their list. Are you a Muslim? Of course you are not, but did that prevent a respectable news program such as 60 Minutes from asking this question? Is your pastor a hater of America? Of course he is not but many whites deem him as your mouthpiece and since many have no real knowledge of history they cannot see that the old gentleman was displaying the scars of bitterness from a world that ‘he’ remembers; a world where blacks could not eat at the same lunch counter let alone drink from the same water fountain as a white man, were not able to vote or exercise political discourse without threat of life and on and on.
It is not that I believe Mrs. Clinton to be invulnerable Senator, it is that I believe you to be more vulnerable in the face of the incoming vicious unwarranted personal attacks. The Junior Senator from New York has been dealing with the slime throwers for nearly twenty years whilst you yourself have just begun to taste this bitter medicine. I believe her to be the strongest candidate to take on the muckrakers.
As I stated, you have enormous support amongst the young people. You can be proud that your vision has inspired them but I must confess to some apprehension as to whether their feverish adoration can be maintained. We must remember that all children are fickle at best and today’s rock star is tomorrow’s has been. Ask Bobby Sherman, ask David Cassidy, for that matter ask Harold Ford and Jesse Ventura.
Senator, I believe you to be a man of intelligence, but you need a little more time to prepare yourself for the awesome burden that is the Presidency. Yours and Mrs. Clinton’s feuding is placing what could be a landslide election year for the Democrats into jeopardy. In eight years time, the year 2016, you will only be 54 years old—six years younger than Mrs. Clinton is now. I urge you to save your party from a disaster and show us a profile in courage by suspending your candidacy for the Presidency; make a joint appearance with Mrs. Clinton and give her your endorsement. Your reputation will be saved whereas the verbal fisticuffs occuring now are a threat to it. Mrs. Clinton will sail or sink, however, regardless of the turnout in November you shall be assured a legitimate shot at the nomination in the future. Withdraw Senator, and we will all admire you deeply, not just the little children, but even old fogies like me.
Professor Milburn Cleaver OPA
Anytown, USA

The next President of the United States

Gives his victory speech on the night that he becomes the Democratic nominee:

Hang it up Hillary


Clinton 638,274 51%

Obama 615,862 49%

North Carolina

Obama 890,695 56%

Clinton 657,920 42%

No Preference 22,722 1%

After all the guilt by association that Barack Obama has endured over the last few weeks and the voters gave him a big win in North Carolina and Indiana ended up almost in a tie. So Barry nets a bunch more delegates but Hillary might find another excuse to keep going.

Let us hope that it doesn't come down to this:

Steve Kelley, Times-Picayune via Truth, Justice & Peace

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More Dems in the 10th

TL: Registered Republicans in the sprawling district that encompasses all or parts of 14 northeastern and central Pennsylvania counties, now stands at 206,093, or 48.7 percent. That’s a drop of about 4 percent from 2006.

The number of Democrats increased about 2 percent in that time frame, now showing a total of 171,263, or 40.5 percent of the registered voters. Third-party candidates or those who list themselves as unaffiliated climbed nearly 2 percent, totaling 45,527, or 10.8 percent.

Some of this can be attributed to Republicans switching to vote in the Democratic Presidential primary but many are new voters. In Wayne County I read that the Democrats added over 1,000 new voters. When I lived there I doubled the Democratic registration in the little town that I resided in. Even with the hot Dem Prez primary I think it's amazing that Chris Carney got more votes than the 2 Republican candidates combined in the primary, 70,000 up from 26,000 in 2006. Chris Hackett beat Dan Meuser 33,000 to 30,000 in an incredibly expensive race.

In other 10th CD news Hackett got the endorsement of the National Right to Life PAC. He has also has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, the Eagle Forum and the Flat Earth Society.

Health Care event in Wilkes-Barre

Chuck Pennacchio will be in town to push for a single payer system on Thursday sponsored by the Northeastern PA Organizing Center at 198 S. Main St. Wilkes-Barre, PA, 6PM.
From a release:
The NEPA Organizing Center will sponsor our first Universal Health Care Campaign event on Thursday, May 8th, at 6:00 p.m. The event will be held at the newly opened center, located at 198 S. Main St in Wilkes-Barre. Refreshments will be provided.

Event details:

6:00 Introduction and screening of segments of Michael Moore’s Sicko.
7:00 Presentation by Chuck Pennacchio, Executive Director, Health Care 4 all PA, on the statewide movement for Single Payer Health Care legislation in PA.
7:30 Presentation by Frank Sindaco, Coordinator of the NEPA Organizing Center and Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) of NEPA, on our Universal Health Care Campaign and local organizing efforts.
8:00 Discussion Groups/Next Steps


During the last round of redistricting they took Scranton out of the 10th Congressional District adding it to the 11th and split Luzerne County in half putting the back mountain in the 10th. Above Average Jane points out that Montgomery county has been chopped into pieces and the Pocono Record reports that Monroe county was diced into six state senate districts after the 2000 census. An Inky Columnist says one family has Joe Sestak as it's Congressman but if you live in the garage Jim Gerlach is your guy and a block away it's Allyson Schwartz's territory.

This is nuts, as a minimum districts should make geographic sense as much as possible. Sure, there will have to be nibbling at the corners to meet the population requirements but the computer modeled machinations of both parties has to end. The only way to end this is to take the power to draw district lines away from the legislature and give it to an independent commission like other states. But the catch is that it would require amending the Pennsylvania Constitution and the clock is running out.

Inky: On Monday, a strong reform, backed by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, will be unveiled in Harrisburg as House Bill 2420. The clock is ticking on it already. Because the reform requires a constitutional amendment, the bill must achieve first passage this June to prevent another Keystone gerrymander in 2011. (New Jersey has a relatively sane system.)
This bill would ordain that districts should be compact and contiguous, should not split municipalities needlessly, and should preserve communities of interest. Importantly, the bill would bar the use of voter data to lock in political advantage through computer modeling.

Luzerne County 118th State Rep Mike Carroll is a co-sponsor of HB 2420. Thanks Mike, now convince Todd, Phyllis, Yuddy, Eddie Day and Karen to get behind this effort.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Tom Delay in the area tomorrow

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will be at The Ramada Clarks Summit Hotel, 820 Northern Blvd, Clarks Summit , PA TUESDAY, May 6th, 2008 - 7:00 PM.

The event is sponsored by the Coalition for a Conservative Majority. You can read the details at the CCM website.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

State of the World

From the left: Daniel Kingery, Joseph A. Oliva, Bill Ingram, Donald K. Allen and Christopher Popham Smith. All are independent candidates for President.

I attended Mario Mario Fiorucci's annual State of the World forum in Sugar Notch yesterday. He's been doing this for about 10 years and he had new catch this time by inviting some independent candidates for President.

The common theme from all of them was that the Democrats and Republicans have monopolized power to the detriment of the American people, hard to argue with that.

First up was Don Allen, a veterinarian from Youngstown, OH who was Staff Sargent in the US Air Force when he was an enlisted guy and is now a Lt Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He railed against the NAFTA Superhighway, the New World Order and North American Union. He also opposes creating a single currency for the US, Canada and Mexico which he dubbed the "Amero."

Christopher Popham Smith from Boston wants to withdraw the troops from Iraq and secure the southern border by parking them next to Mexico. He alleged that our elected officials in Washington live a lavish lifestyle complete with free health care for life putting them out of touch with working people. On immigration he said people have to knock on the door and ask to come in.

Bill Ingram, a truck driver from Wisconsin had many detailed policy proposals like outlawing fossil fuels and nuclear energy within 10 years and mandating renewable energy. He wants to crack down on the banking industry practice of raising interest rates on credit cards without notice and tacking on more and more fees that put people in a hole. He has an insurance plan that would cover health care, disability and life insurance that should cost $500 a year. One part of that plan would exempt all health care providers from lawsuits. On trade with China he wants a barter system requiring them to buy products from the US and wants 100% of imports to be inspected to be paid for by a fee on the importers. He wants to pay for the Iraq war by giving a bill to the Iraqi government and seize their oil fields if they don't pay.

Joe Oliva , a New York native acknowledged that it's a ridiculous proposition for an independent to run for President but contends that it's not more ridiculous than what has been going on with the 2 party system. He stated that 1200 elite people make all the decisions for the rest of us leading to a one world government mindset that encourages illegal immigration. He also opposes the UN Law of the Sea Treaty.

Daniel Kingery from Arizona wants you to buy a raffle ticket to win his car as a way of financing his campaign. He points out that the Declaration of Independence gives the power to the people to alter or abolish the forms of government over us that no longer protect us or our rights. He wants to abolish the Electoral College and the Congress requiring all laws and treaties to be put to a vote by the people. And he wants to expand the definition of treason to include politicians that make promises that they have no intention of keeping.

I put some photos of the event on my Facebook page.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

YouTube weekend


The small "d" democratic in me reels at the thought. It's like we've become some sort of banana republic and Mrs. Clinton is our Evita Peron.

Madonna don't cry for me Argentina!

YouTube weekend

I got a letter yesterday excusing me from Jury Duty. This was a great disappointment as I had my 3 days off from work planned out. Lunch at the Chill Grill or Carol's Deli followed by a visit to the Hardware Bar at the end of the day. I even wanted to check out happy hour at Big Ugly's with the hope of running into our favorite county commissioner, Greg Skrepenak. We have a lot to talk about.

With a little luck I might have been picked for a complicated malpractice case that would last for weeks and got to spend some quality time in downtown Wilkes-Barre. But No. Many people do everything they can to get out of it and I wanted to be part of the process. How do you volunteer to serve?

The trial of the century is coming up soon so maybe I might still get summoned. Somehow I think that the Hugo Selenski trial may end something like this:

Monty Python - Mass Murder Case