Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End year messages

Tomorrow is the end of the fundraising quarter and my inbox has been deluged with donation requests from just about every politician running for office in Pennsylvania and other places. I don't send them anything because I have better things to spend my money on and I think a better way has to be found to finance campaigns. I did read a unique New Year message from 11th CD Republican candidate Chris Paige who didn't ask for a penny.

My Confession

It's almost the start of a new year, so I want to confess my sins - most notably, the fact that I am a RINO. All of you who have suspected that I'm a Democratic plant are absolutely right, and here's the proof of my crimes:

I raised property taxes by 70%,
I raised income taxes by 87.5%,
I raised garbage fees by 18%,
I've stated publicly that there's nothing left to cut in government spending,
I've stated publicly that the best way to reduce government deficits is to raise taxes,
I publicly refused to endorse the GOP's Presidential nominee in 2008, explaining that I was unable to decide whether Barack Obama or John McCain better represented my values,
I believe that government should limit CO2 emissions,
I believe that the government should "invest" your tax money in minor league baseball teams, amphitheaters, and solar power plants,
I believe that the government should require you to present identity papers whenever you engage in routine commercial transactions,
I believe that you should pass laws first and determine their constitutionality later,
I believe that you should do what you think is right, even if it violates the U.S. Constitution because government has to have to power to do whatever it thinks is right.

Oh, wait a second, I didn't do any of those things, but LOU BARLETTA DID!

You think I might betray you? Lou Barletta already has! Rejecting me for him makes about as much sense as prefering Benedict Arnold to the Marquis de Lafayette because the Marquis was a foreigner. Perhaps I can't prove that I'll do the right thing in Washington, but Lou Barletta has already proven that he won't. Whether its taxes, government spending, the environment, or respect for the Constitution, Lou Barletta has ACTED like a Democrat, so just imagine what he'll do when he gets to Washington. Apparently, he's already telling people that he believes his primary task in DC will be bringing pork back to the District - if that's what we want in our Congressman, remind me again why we would get rid of Cong. Paul "Pork" Kanjorski, whose seniority makes him far, far better at getting pork?

If Lou Barletta and his groupies think I'm a phony, then they should welcome my invitation to debate - it's not like he can't use the free publicity. Most importantly, Barletta claims to be the guy who will fight for you, but he won't even debate for you! And I'm willing to let him debate before a hometown audience! His groupies keep saying what a brave guy he is, but - strangely - he lets his groupies do all the fighting for him. Such cowardice is unforgivable.

In other 11th CD news Cory O'Brien had his first fundraiser and called for the creation of "family sustaining jobs," a vision for the future, the importance of education, a need to "rebuild the United States domestically," and "wean the country off foreign oil."

I have been hearing the same claptrap from politicians about bringing "good paying jobs" to the area because we have a "good work ethic" for as long as I can remember, Kanjorski included. Few tell us how they are going to pull it off.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dunmore Methadone Clinic

The Dunmore town council shot down a Methadone Clinic because of zoning, parking and pedestrian issues. But that is not the real reason according to Not Cease and NEPartisan. It's a classic case of NIMBY (not in my back yard). We went through this argument in Plains Township a few years ago and the NIMBY crowd was led by the then Mayor of Wilkes-Barre Tom McGroarity. In the end the place they put it was zoned for a medical treatment facility with a Dialysis Clinic next door so the Plains Twp fathers/mothers and interlopers from other towns couldn't block it.

As far as I know there has not been one police call to the Plains Twp Methadone Clinic since it opened.

People make stupid decisions in their lives. Does that mean you just turn your back on them when they want to make it right? I'd rather have someone hooked on methadone than heroin living on my street. And believe me, they live on YOUR street.

Barletta raises taxes

The be all and end all for Republicans is lower taxes but the reality of falling revenues because of the Bush financial meltdown and ensuing recession has forced Hazleton Republican Mayor Lou Barletta to propose a tax and fee increase. Many property owners will fork out $250 or more under Barletta's plan which is almost double what they are paying now, he blames the shortfall on illegal immigrrants.

He then announced his secret plan to put Hazleton on a firm financial footing. Barletta wants to sell the local water department and use the proceeds to build a solar power farm at the Hazleton Airport with the idea of selling the electricity. Sounds good until you think about how much time it would take to sell off the water company then build the solar farm. When I first read about this it sounded like some big idea that Congressman Paul Kanjorski would come up with like the people mover.

I had a short chat with the other Republican candidate, Chris Paige, who ripped into the tax increase and venture capitol fund that Barletta is proposing. Paige has been the most prolific blogger of any candidate for office that I've ever seen. He wants to debate Barletta before the primary proposing a meeting in each of the 5 counties in the district just like Barletta wanted last time around.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

Welcome to what I hope and expect will be an exciting primary race. As you may remember, you complained rather frequently and vociferously when Cong. Kanjorski refused to debate you last year; consequently, I’m certain that you won’t violate your principles by refusing to debate me. In that spirit, therefore, I propose five (5) debates – the same number you proposed to Cong. Kanjorski and one for each county in this District. I am flexible on format and timing, so I’m sure we can arrange those details. Indeed, I suggest we hold the first debate in Hazleton, so you can have a hometown crowd to support and encourage you.

As you can see, I’ve included the press in this invitation because I hope they attend and because I want them to know that you are living up to principles you preached during your race with Cong. Kanjorski. Quite simply, I wouldn’t want them to think you are a hypocrite, so I want them to know how quickly and graciously you agreed to my request.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

So frankly if the far left and the far right are attacking you- you are probably in the right spot actually. - Congressman Chris Carney

A few days ago this story in the Politico set off speculation that PA-10th Congressman Chris Carney was considering switching to the GOP. The reports are that John McCain called him but Fox News said it was a voice mail message rather than an actual conversation. TPM thinks this is just a stunt by the Republicans trying to spook the House Democrats after the defection of Parker Griffith in Alabama which may not turn out so good for him.

Carney let it brew for a bit then shot it down.

"I am flattered by the overtures of Sen[ator] McCain and other Republican Party officials and consider their outreach a sure sign that I have worked in a truly bipartisan manner," said Carney in a statement. "I appreciate the Republican Party's outreach, but I have no plans to change parties."

Carney also told the DCCC and Speaker Pelosi he was not bolting the party.

He has taken a lot of guff from the liberal blogosphere for his positions. DWT and FDL are very critical of some of his votes that I'm also disappointed in some of his votes such as the Stupak Amendent and FISA Bill. He did vote for the stimulus and Health Care Reform which no Republican would vote for. I think we can all agree with his vote against the TARP.

I think that Carney is playing the GOP more than they are playing the Dems. He has always played up his bi-partisanship and saying that even John McCain says I'm doing a good job can't hurt.

He longs for the good old days which is probably not possible in today's toxic atmosphere.

From 2008: "There was a time you could be a Republican or a Democrat and disagree on principle on things and actually have honest intellectual disagreements on how you should proceed on policy. But at the end of the day you were friends and you understood that you were working for the good of the country. Now it’s blood sport, now it’s not about policy but sticking a shiv into somebody’s ribs and we have to get away from that. "

The Pennsylvania Republican Party denies having anything to do with this and the only declared Republican candidate for the seat told PoliticsPA "It’s really a slap in the face to all rank-and-file Republicans working to take back the seat.”

This insired the first press release from the Derk Campaign:

FREEBURG, PA- Liberal Chris Carney will not fool the voters of the 10th Congressional District into thinking that he can now become a Republican.

According to a story in Politico, Carney spoke with Senator John McCain about switching party registrations from Democrat to Republican.

“Pennsylvania does not need another Arlen Specter, a politician who will use any means just to stay in power. Voters in the 10th Congressional district will not be fooled by Chris Carney’s liberal voting record” Malcolm Derk said.

While claiming to be a fiscal conservative, Chris Carney voted for the $800 billion stimulus package, the $1 trillion dollar healthcare overhaul bill, and most recently voted to allow $154 billion in TARP bailout funds to be used to support Nancy Pelosi’s new stimulus bill. The Republican Conference almost unanimously opposed these bills.
Under Carney’s watch, the national debt climbed to over $12 trillion dollars, which amounts to $158,000 for a family of four in Pennsylvania. This increased by over $44,000 in the three years Carney held office.

Chris Carney has voted with the Democratic Majority 90.8% of the time during the 111th Congress, according to the Washington Post’s Congressional Votes Database.

“Chris Carney cares more about following the lead of Nancy Pelosi than the interests of this district. His votes are not the votes of a fiscally responsible person. Chris Carney and the rest of congress continue to spend away with no end in sight.”

“It is clear that Chris Carney has seen internal polling and is scared of facing me in the general election,” Derk said.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas NEPA

Surplus wrapping paper to Another Monkey for the picture

The new Luzerne County Commssioner

Thomas Cooney was selected by the Luzerne County Judges to replace former Commissioner and admitted criminal Greg Skrepenak. Mr. Cooney has an impressive resume that you read at here. He has a BA from Kings College and a MBA from the Univ. of Scranton. He heads up the A&E Group that does business with many private, non-profits and government organizations.

He is not new to public service. He was past chairman of the county’s home rule Government Study Commission in 1974, served as a Laflin Zoning Board member from 1977 through 2000 and has been a Jenkins Township Planning Commission member since 2000.

A&E has had many government contracts over the years that are listed on it's website

TL: A&E is currently working on several government projects, including a bridge design for Luzerne County and a construction project at Luzerne County Community College.
Cooney said there will be no conflict of interest because A&E will finish these projects but will not seek any new work in county government while he fills the remainder of Skrepenak’s term through 2011. Cooney said he will stay out of any decisions involving the company’s existing county work.
He also told the judges he is “winding down” at A&E and will be a full-time county commissioner.

Cooney is a bit of a surprise selection as I expected the judges to pick a past politico or go the other way with an outsider. His experience as a government contractor and public service seem to be a good mix but with all the allegations of pay to play it's hard to trust anyone.

Let's give him a chance.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Keep Christ in Christmas decorations

A guest post.


A Yuletide Message from Mean Old Man

As if destroying the reputations of many fine men in Luzerne County government wasn’t enough, the Commies have now pulled the last straw by banning the baby Jesus from the courthouse lawn. Damn!!!

The subversive American Communist Liberty Union (ACLU) has succeeded in pulling off this outrage and they knew what they were doing. I bet if good ol’ Judge Ciavarella was still on the bench this never would have happened. He would have ridden those ACLU’ers in their prissy pin-striped suits out of town on a rail (preceded by a good old fashioned tar and feathering). And Misters Conahan, Skrepenak, Mericle, etc. would all be on board to help out our sainted martyr judge. God bless all of those fine young men who sacrificed their reputations by pleading guilty instead of choosing the horror of putting their families through a long phony kangaroo trial.

Christmas just ain’t what it used to be; in my day we acknowledged Christ and all his teachings. We didn’t waste our time shopping in stores, either. You were lucky to have food on the table, let alone a toy (at least that’s what Pop’s told us). I remember one Christmas when my buddy Smirk got a dart board. I came home and asked Pops why Santa didn’t get me something neat too. Ol’ Pops told me something I’ll never forget: “There is no Santa Claus, dummy! You best know now, because you have a long and hard life ahead of you and you better shape up because you’re certainly not going to get by on your good looks!” I remember running up to my room and crying. To find out there was no Santa was the worst thing to happen in my young life to that point. I was heartbroken, felt as if my stomach had been ripped apart, could not sleep for days nor could I eat; and you know what? I loved it!!! Because my ol’ Dad taught me one of the most important lessons that I could ever hope to learn: Don’t go through life being a dreamer, be a doer!!! That’s why from the start I always told my two slug kids Clay and Harlan that there was NO Santa Claus.


Now I hear that they will allow the nativity display so long as they place Santa next to Jesus. Damn!!!!

If there is anything that does not mix it is oil and water and Jesus and Santa. Santa is a commie smokescreen, Hell bent on hypnotizing our young people into forgetting the true meaning of Christmas: love, forgiveness, peace on Earth---GOD! The subversive who came up with this latest idea of putting Christ and Santa together should be hung by the neck right in the middle of Public Square on Christmas morning!!!!! Hell, I’ll even spot a few bucks for the rope!

Kids today have it too easy and they have no idea of the sanctity of the holiday. Not only that, but I have to endure all of the commercial hoopla and the commune –like carolers who come to my door with their whiny voices. They always seem to upset my livestock and my champion bulldog, Titus, with their high pitched drone. So much for a peaceful Christmas!!!

Then there’s the nutty practice of taking the little runts to sit on Santa’s lap. I don’t want to come off as a hypocrite, but I must confess that when they were kids, I used to take my two slackers to see Santa and now I sometimes get stuck doing the same with their little punks (hey, I’d rather sacrifice a few principles rather than spotting a painful shiner courtesy of Thelma Jean’s pie roller). Taking kids to sit on Santa’s lap is a form of child abuse. Honestly, have you ever seen a little twerp in a Santa picture who is NOT crying like a banshee??? You see my point; besides, I know for a fact that the a few of these “Santas” are actually some old Legion buddies of mine who do the job to secure some extra beer money for the holidays (Hi there, Jinks and Elmo!!!). I recall one time when I took my granddaughter Madison (what the Hell kind of a name for a little girl is that!?!) to see Santa she asked me afterwards “Why does Santa smell like beer?”. I told her that if she had to spend 364 days out of the year in the North Pole she would want a beer too. Hey, commies, at least I didn’t tell her there was no Santa!!!

So all you damned hippy subversives have a Merry Christmas (and a Happy Hanukkah to my Hebrew friends); don’t forget to go to church for your one time a year appearance. Then if you come home and find eggs and toilet paper on your house, and your precious Christmas decorations destroyed, blame yourselves for putting the fine young Judge Ciavarella away and allowing juvenile delinquency to flourish.
As for me, I’ll be in my room away from the madness that is my sad family, puffing on a lucky and swigging down a Steg, all the while listening to the sounds of the great Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song”. Hell, maybe I’ll put on a little Burl Ives “Holly Jolly Christmas” for good measure. To Hell with you all!!!


Santa responds to the Mean One

A jolly Ho Ho Ho to Lehigh Valley Ramblings for the photo.

The next Luzerne County Commssioner

68 people have applied for the vacancy created by Greg Skrepenak's resignation and President Judge Chet Muroski has stated that the judges will interview all qualified applicants and vote on replacement tomorrow. I'm sure that not all the applicants will make the cut because some will be disqualified because they don't meet the registration requirement, filed after the deadline or made mistakes filling out the application. Challenges will heard 10AM tomorrow.

I could have field day ripping apart some of the names on the list and so could you, please don't.

The judges have set themselves an ambitious goal of deciding this tomorrow. Even if the field gets whittled down to 40 and you give them each a 10 minute interview that will run into at least 6 hours. And no matter who they pick it will create a firestorm. If they pick a fresh face people will complain that they have no experience and if they pick someone with government experience the cry will be the fix is in.

The Yonk gives some helpful interview tips.

Reading the applications this one caught my eye

Joseph J Gombeda

"I honestly do not have any qualifications for the office of commissioner; however neither did anyone else for that matter."

My prediction is that Frank Trinisewski will return to the courthouse.

10th CD update: Derk in, Peifer out

Republican State Representative Michael Peifer told the Pike County Press that he won't take on Democrat Chris Carney next year for the PA 10th Congressional seat citing family reasons.
Last night Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk kicked off his campaign for the seat in Freeburg. Some highlights from the Daily Item:
He doesn't like the stimulus “I feel passionately that it’s not government’s role to create jobs.That is something that businesses and entrepreneurs do. They are the engines that fuel the economy, and they will ultimately get us out of the recession.”

Throwing money at a problem hasn’t helped, Derk said.

“We were promised unemployment wouldn’t hit more than 8 percent; we hit 10 percent last month. This proves the funding priority of Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats didn’t work. And as a county commissioner, I know that the jobs we were promised never came.”

About his youth “Everyone mentions how young I am. But I have experience running a government agency. As commissioners, we had to balance multimillion dollar budgets, and we did so without raising taxes.”

He said he plans to raise money on the internet from small donors.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who wants to be a Commissioner?

With the sudden but not unexpected resignation of Greg Skrepenak there is an vacancy on the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners. So far a dozen people have applied for the job and the deadline to apply is Monday. The Times-Leader has a list of the applicants with a short bio listing their qualifications. I know some of the names on the list but suspect that the eventual winner will file the paperwork at the last minute.

Former Commssioner Frank Trinisewski and recent Controller candidate Bob Morgan are at the top of the list. I have heard a few other names mentioned but will wait until tomorrow to see who applies. One of our local bloggers has thrown his satirical hat in the ring.

The Luzerne County Judges will meet en banc on Wednesday to pick the eventual victim, I mean new Commissioner. Whoever they pick will serve out the rest of the 2 years remaining of Skrep's term. If there was ever an argument for Home Rule this is it. Such a decision should not be in the hands of the most discredited bunch of people in the county. The Sargent Shultz routine ( "I know nothing)" about the Juvie Brothers scandal is just not credible.

Update: The Luzerne County Courts website now lists over 60 people applying for the post. The deadline in 4PM today.

You Tube weekend

Santa is an illegal alien and will not be welcome in Hazleton.

No Santa For Hazleton

If he somehow slips in to the country this guy will put an end to it.

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa

A sprig of the misiltoe to

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Malcolm Derk for Congress

Republican Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk will announce Monday that he is running for the Pennsylvania 10th US House of Representatives seat currently held by Democrat Chris Carney.

He is a graduate of Susquehanna University with a degree in both Political Science and Religion and at 27 is the youngest person ever elected Snyder County Commissioner. He won his first election when he was 20 serving on the Freeburg Borough Council between 2002 and 2007.

Derk has been making the rounds telling a GOP crowd in Pike County

“I know what it’s like to juggle scarce resources and meet federal mandates passed down to us. One thing I know for certain is we have to get that seat back. As far as the role of government, some people believe that bigger is better. I’m not one of them.”
Derk criticized Carney’s votes in favor of the federal economic stimulus plan and health care reform.
“Those votes don’t match the values of the district. They’re not the votes of a fiscally responsible person,” he said

He recently blasted the use and oversight of stimulus funds.

Derk's official campaign site won't be up until after he makes it official Monday but you can learn more about him at Draft Derk for Congress or the Facebook page Derk 2010 for Congress

State Rep. Michael Peifer is looking at the race and Shira Toeplitz reports that former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino has met with the NRCC about posible run for the seat. Since Marino left government service he has represented junkyard and casino owner Louis DeNaples. His successor, Martin Carlson, uncovered the biggest public corruption scandal in the history of Luzerne County.

Congrats Blog Buddies

Regular commenter on this site Steve Albert has been writing Not Cease From Exploration for over a year now. He writes about life, business, culture and dabbles in politics. As many people have found it is not easy to keep up a blog everyday and he does it with wit and wisdom.

New kid on the block Tom Borthwick of NEPArtisan was voted the Best Local Blog by readers of The Electric City. He is doing a great job covering PA and Scranton politics.

When I first started blogging I needed some help and guidance and Above Average Jane was willing to help me out anyway she could. She just celebrated her 5th blogiversary. One of the most important things she taught me was to look for a local angle on a national story.

I don't know how many more years I will be doing this but I hope you are along for the ride blog buddies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Luzerne County courthouse nativity scene

What a distraction. With all that is going on in the county a controversy has exploded over a bunch of plastic figures on the courthouse lawn. This type of argument has been repeated all over the country during the last few decades and has usually resulted in the display being removed or significantly modified.

The problem the ACLU and Kings College student Justin Vacula have with it is that is bought and paid for with government money and contend that it is a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.

Until the 1980's the courthouse did not have a Christmas/Hannukah display but the Commissioners at the time Frank Trinisewski, Frank Crossin Jr. and Jim Phillips decided to put one up daring someone to sue them over it. I'm surprised that no one has until now.

A work around is to include secular symbols such as Frosty the Snowman and Reindeer and recognize other religions including the Buddha, Shiva and maybe a replica of Stonehenge. My favorite is adding a Festivus Pole and a big bowl of pasta to recognize the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I'm actually disappointed that the Baby Jesus got the boot because Jesus was known to keep company with thief's, whores and publicans. There is not a better place to find them.
My friend Renee has organized a protest on Sunday. I won't be able to make it because the Eagles are playing the 49er's at the same time.

Event: Protest the ACLU! Save our Nativity Scene and Menorah!
What: Protest
Start Time: Sunday, December 20 at 1:00pm
End Time: Sunday, December 20 at 2:00pm
Where: Luzerne County Courthouse steps (200 North River Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 18702)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skrep is sacked

23 and counting

SCRANTON – Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak has signed a plea agreement to a corruption charge and will resign from office today...Skrepenak signed the plea agreement on Wednesday with the U.S. Attorney’s office.

This confirms what me and other bloggers have known for a few months. He sure sounded like he knew he was going down and refused to testify before the state Juvie Commission on the advice of his attorney. He even skipped yesterday's budget work session not that he has been diligent about showing up for work lately.

Chet Muroski and the rest of out esteemed Luzerne County jurists will get to pick a replacement.

To add to today's fun under the dome District Attorney Jackie Mo is investigating a report of missing money in the Prothontary's office.

Who is Mr. Big?

Maybe there isn't one.
Every plea agreement announced so far in the Luzerne County corruption probe recommends a reduced sentence provided that the accused crook cooperates with the investigation. This implies that the feds are squeezing the little fish hoping to land the big one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Man in the middle

Jerry Bonner decided to plead guilty to just one charge of funneling a bribe of $1400 from local engineering contractor Michael Pasonick to fellow Housing Authority (retired Wilkes-Barre cop)member Bill Maguire. What was the vig? Bonner originally was going to fight the charges but was offered a deal that he couldn't refuse by the US Attorney. For this and other possible misdeeds he will get probation if the Judge goes along with the sweetheart deal. I hope the judge throws it out and there is a trial.

Jerry was the longtime owner of the Carriage Stop Inn on Route 315 that was the top spot for Democratic candidate fundraisers "because he had the best prices" according to a past County Commissioner. The Carriage Stop burned down a few years ago on St. Patrick's Day after closing early. How many bars close early on biggest drinking day of the year is a question that should be looked into. He also beat a gambling rap when it couldn't be proven that he actually owned the place.

After hosting so many Democratic fundraisers over the years Bonner was rewarded with the office of Democratic Jury Commissioner in the 1996 election which is basically a do nothing job that pays well. He might have even earned a pension for his "service." He was appointed as an "unpaid " member of the Luzerne County Housing Authority in 1993.

Note: I have been assured by the Rain Man that he has an airtight alibi about his whereabouts that fateful St. Patrick's Day. His ire about the price increase of Killian's along with his known carelessness with alcohol and butane lighters should not infer any wrongdoing.

New row officers staff up

As first reported by Mark Luzerne County Controller-elect Walter Griffith
has selected Frank Pinnacoli to be deputy controller and Thomas Mosca as his new solicitor.

Pinnacoli has a BA in accounting from Kings College and has had a number of jobs the last few years. Price Waterhouse Coopers in New York City, CTSI in Dallas Acton Technologies Inc. in Pittston , Pella Products Inc. in Dunmore. Pinnacoli currently owns NEPA Accounting & Consulting Inc. in Kingston, a business he started with his father.

He replaces acting Controller AJ Martinelli who has to answer questions about his involvement with former Human Resources Director Doug Richards and the Continental Consultants Group. Earlier this year the Citizens Voice had a story about the no bid contract with Continental Consultants and I wrote about it in January. Not even the Commissioners knew what is going on let alone our clueless former Controller and present Commissioner Chairwoman. Why it took 10 months to expose this fraud is something all 3 commissioners and the acting controller have to answer for when all the information was in the public record. This should have been addressed long before the FBI had to figure it out for them. Martinelli also made the Idiot Watch with his spectacular pants falling down “Give me a break” DUI arrest performance.

Sam Stretton will be the solicitor when Carolee Medico Olenginski returns to the Luzerne County Prothonotary’s Office in January. Stretton was her solicitor the first time she held the office and later was the solicitor for former Controller Steve Flood who first blew the whistle on the Juvie Brothers and the 20 year lease of PA Child Care "negotiated" by the Bond Brothers. Primary Controller candidate Bob Sypniewski will be her deputy. Bob has previously said he would put his business interest on the back burner and work full time for the county.

Carolee has yet to name her interior decorator.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Luzerne County Budget

The good news is there is no new borrowing. The bad news is just about everything else.

This year's plan comes in with about $2 million less spending than last year. To get there Commissioner Chair Maryanne Petrilla wants to close Moon Lake Park and the ball fields at the Forty Fort Airport plus all employees are to take 12 furlough days without pay. Commissioner Steve Urban wants 24 furlough days. That will be problematic because it needs agreement from the unions and the row officers. One of the problems with our present form of government is the row officers are not accountable to anyone which hopefully be rectified by the new county charter that will be written by the Government Study Commission. I have to disagree with the Blogfather, I think the unions will cooperate to save as many jobs as they can. The problems we face today are not the fault of the unions but the past administration of the Bond Brothers.

The biggest hole in the budget is the more than doubling of debt service from $9.5 million this year to $21.7 million in 2010. Every budget that Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid with the help of Sam Diaz put together refinanced existing debt and had unrealistic revenues.

Chief of Budget and Finance Tom Pribula has told the commissioners the county should not borrow any money next year. Pribula said Skrepenak wants "another Diaz budget with unfunded debt."

"Your eyes would come out your head if you realized the ridiculous, fictitious revenues that were in this county that never came to fruition, which has put us in this spot."

Profile in courage Commissioner Greg Skrepenak doesn't want to eliminate any county jobs and will not support a tax increase.

I've been bitching about the creative accounting (lies) in the Luzerne County budget process as long as I've been blogging.

From 2007

Another work of fiction

With all the outrage over the Debit Card scandal the fact that the latest Luzerne County budget doesn't add up has been overlooked. This year's plan has an eerie resemblance to last year's nonsense with even more invented revenues. Last year the budget called for $4 million from land sales that never happened and this year the figure is $6.3 million. Last year the county was supposed to get $3 million from beefed-up tax collections and they inflate that to $14 million from collection of unpaid property taxes for 2008.

The number that jumps out at you in the end is a 18.5% increase in property taxes. Steve Urban did the responsible thing and voted for the budget to move the process forward but he is not happy about it.

"I'm going to vote to put the budget on the table, but I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not going to vote on this tax increase," Urban said. "And I'll vote to shut this place down on Dec. 30, if we don't have a budget that makes sense to me and we don't have the spending cuts that I believe are necessary to move this county forward."

I doubt that the tax increase will be that big but in the end there will be a tax increase. I realize that taxes are the price we pay for civilization but I want to be assured that my tax money is being spent for things that are absolutely necessary. There have always been rumors of no show jobs and documented cases of outright theft in the Luzerne County courthouse that makes me reluctant to support a tax increase. I'm coming around to Big Dan and the Yonk's idea of just blowing up the place and starting over.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

10th CD: Peifer in, Meuser out

From PoliticsPA

PoliticsPA has heard from multiple GOP sources that Republican state Rep. Michael Peifer will run in the 10th Congressional District against Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Carney. Peifer, elected in 2007 to the legislature, represents an area in the the wide-ranging congressional district’s northeastern region. He won’t face former Republican candidate Dan Meusser, who told PoliticsPA he’s focused on helping elect GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett instead.

Peifer succeeded long time state rep Jerry Birmelin the in the 139th district. Looking around his website it appears that he is an avid hunter and fisherman who opposes any gun control laws. He sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban unfunded mandates and supports the Boy Scouts. I sent him an email asking for comment and will post it when/if he responds.

House passes financial reform

Score this a win for Congressman Paul Kanjorski.

Wall Street Regulation Reform Passes House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed the most ambitious restructuring of federal financial regulations since the New Deal on Friday, aiming to head off any replay of last year's Wall Street failures that plunged the nation deep into recession.

The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators.

The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it.

The bill includes his too big to fail amendment and creates a consumer protection agency. Typically, the party of no thinks nothing should be done to avoid another melt down like what happened last fall that has put us in the worst recession in my memory. And some progressives think the bill doesn't go far enough.

WASHINGTON -"Today marks a momentous step as we work to reform Wall Street and better protect the American people from potential future financial crises," said Chairman Kanjorski. "Last year, our economy faced its most dire circumstances since the Great Depression. We took extraordinary, but necessary action to pull the economy back from the brink, and we are now beginning to see signs of recovery. Today, the House passed legislation, with my strong support, that provides the most sweeping financial regulatory reforms in the past 75 years and holds banks accountable for their actions. While no bill is perfect, this legislation takes strong steps to help prevent the near collapse that we faced last year. It also will help us take preventative action to protect every American and our economy so that there will no longer be companies that are "too big to fail" or anymore taxpayer funded bailouts."

Click here for more information on the Kanjorski amendment to address financial institutions deemed "too big to fail."

Friday, December 11, 2009

This is no surprise

22 and counting.

WILKES-BARRE – One month after being fired for refusing to answer questions about two controversial contracts, former Luzerne County Human Resources Director Doug Richards was charged Thursday with accepting a bribe for helping a contractor secure a contract with the county.

Richards invented a company to do payroll work for the county drawing up a contract that was never approved by the commissioners but invoices were still approved by the Controller's office. He tried to quit but was fired by the Luzerne County Commissioners.

Is just me me or does he resemble this guy?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christine, You broke our hearts

Follow the money-Deep Throat
Much of the outrage over the re-election of Frank Pizzella as Wilkes-Barre Area School board President has been directed at newly elected board member Christine Katsock.
I was always a fan of Christine who has run for many offices over the years as a Republican and self described taxpayer watchdog. She came within 800 votes of defeating Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton in 2003 and gave State Rep Eddie Day Pashinski a run for his money in 2006. I was happy when she finally won an election to something. Then something happened (dispute with Steve Urban?) that prompted her to change her registration and was spotted working the polls for Tom Leighton when he ran for re-election.
She had no comment when asked to explain her vote for Pizzella but it's not hard to figure out if you look at her Campaign Finance Report. Frank Pizzella was her top cash contributor pitching in $3000. She also got $1800 as a in-kind contribution from the Friends of Frank Pizzella. Other notable contributions came from engineer Michael Pasonick who does business with just about every government agency in Luzerne County and has been implicated in the ongoing corruption scandal. Owners and employees of Apollo Electric chipped in $2000 and the owners of Popple Construction $2000.

Home Rule on the way

Luzerne County’s Government Study Commission unanimously voted Wednesday to take the next step and draft a proposed home rule charter.

I liked the last plan.

Panel unanimously votes for home rule

The challenge is to get a new charter on the ballot in 2010.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Barletta is running again

Borys is reporting that Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta will try to knock off long time Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski in the Pennsylvania 11th District. This will be his third try to win the seat. I got an email from the Luzerne County GOP telling me that he would make his announcement on his website but when I try to go there I'm getting all sorts of error messages and requests for passwords.

You try it

Here's the video

Reaction from Kanjorski spokesman Ed Mitchell:

“Hearing that Mr. Barletta is running for Congress again reminds me of what Yogi Berra said: This is like deja vu all over again.’ Having been rejected by the voters twice, I guess Barletta is looking for strike three and you’re out.

“The Congressman is busy reforming the financial industry, bringing jobs to the district and providing for affordable health care that protects Medicare. He also remains a champion for preserving Social Security, so we have no further comment at this time.”

And Republican candidate Chris Paige:

So, the real question is why would we believe that Barletta can win this race? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, and expecting Barletta to win after losing so many times before is just plain nuts.

Democratic primary challenger Corey O'Brien:

Earlier today, Hazleton's Republican Mayor Lou Barletta announced his candidacy for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. Despite higher taxes and rampant crime in Hazleton, Mayor Barletta will - for a third time - run for U.S. Congress and attempt to return us to the failed Republican policies of George W. Bush.

Our district needs new Democratic leadership to stave off Lou Barletta in 2010 and to keep PA-11 in Democratic hands. As a Lackawanna County Commissioner, I worked to balance three budgets without raising taxes, instituted a Code of Ethics which prohibits me from even accepting a cup of coffee from a county vendor, and replaced our fleet of inefficient, gas-guzzling vehicles with hybrids.

We need a Congressman with executive-level leadership experience and a long-term vision for the future of the district. A Congressman who has balanced budgets during difficult economic times, while still finding ways to invest in our communities. A Congressman who will focus on finding ways to create jobs, improve educational opportunities, restore confidence in our elected officials, and promote energy independence.

Conahan threatened Petrilla

“His final words to me were, ‘Maryanne, if you do this, you’re finished." Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla

TL: Luzerne County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla told the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice on Tuesday that former county Judge Michael Conahan personally called her in early 2008 to order her not to replace former chief clerk/manager Sam Guesto.

Commissioner Steve Urban said he talked to the Feds in 2006 and Controller Steve Flood also met with the FBI about the 20 year lease of the PA Child Care facility in Pittston Twp. Urban also said that he didn't have faith in the Judicial Conduct Board or the District Attorney. Most of us don't.

Minority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak refused to testify before the panel on the advice of his attorney. This has fueled the speculation about Skrep from Skrep refused to testify in hearings about the juvie scandal. This is knows as “Taking the Fifth” and other places.

There is so much going on that I can't keep up.

Reform school threw parties for judges, probation officials
I never get invited to the really good parties like this or the one at the airport

Brace resigns from state position

Testimony: Ciavarella’s ways accepted

Parents, juveniles testify damage was done

Juveniles, parents testify before commission about effect of detention, court proceedings

Horrific, heart-wrenching, courageous testimony of parents and kids in the "Kids for Cash" judges scandal in Luzerne County!

And so much more.

Just to add to the rumors. From the inbox:

Little inside info for you. This is confirmed through more than 3 sources. Former Luzerne County Cxx Txxx Vxxxxxx has been a cooperating witness since June and has made a plea agreement with the feds. Announcement is coming very soon.

And some media gossip:


A few weeks back TV 44's State of Pennsylvania featured the two local newspaper publishers.. After the show, xxx invited anyone in attendance to the GoodFella's eatery down the road on 315. It used to be Bella Vino. xxx picked up the tab paying a couple of thousand dollars in food and bar bills. The next day the media reported that newspaper employees were asked to take a 10% paycut. Irony. Wonder where they will are going to have their Christmas party? Abe's maybe?

My xxx works for the ... He wasn't there but his co workers were and they said xxx was buying drinks and food for everyone and people were buying $200 bottles of wine. The xxx's showed up later after having their outing and tried to pay for their drinks but they could not because the restaurant was running the tab. The xxx's insisted on paying but the owner got pissed off and threw them out.

Santorum 2012

The momentum builds.

Our former junior Senator and Virginia resident has been in South Carolina this week which is another early primary state. He was in Iowa last summer. According to The Hill he is "Absolutely — absolutely taking a look" at running for President. Asked about Sarah Palin he said "I think, you know, she's done a lot to draw attention to herself that's positive," Santorum said, noting she was having an "impact" but declining to say whether she was qualified to win the White House. "She's done some things that, you know, certainly are going to cause her to have to do some explaining if she runs for president," he added.

He also talked to the WaPo about Iran and the looming crises in Honduras that may turn into the biggest threat to our security since Grenada.

"I have no great burning desire to be president, but I have a burning desire to have a different president of the United States."

It's snowing

It seems like a switch was flipped on Saturday and Winter started. As always I blame Al Roker.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Meet Sam Rohrer

Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Sam Rohrer will be in the area Thursday.
From the inbox:

CLARKS SUMMIT (12.08.09) State Representative Sam Rohrer (R-Berks), who recently declared his candidacy for the 2010 Republican Gubernatorial nomination, will campaign in Clarks Summit this week for his first, post-announcement campaign stop. Former area lawmaker Jerry Birmelin (R-Wayne) who represented Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will publicly endorse Rohrer at the “Pennsylvania Townhall” event.

At Thursday night’s Townhall, Rohrer will highlight plans to remove roadblocks to job creation, eliminate school property taxes and reduce state government taxes and spending. His remarks will center on what he labels the “5 Biggest Challenges” for Pennsylvania’s next governor.

The son of a union steelworker, Rohrer has been a vocal advocate for issues impacting working families. By promoting choice in education, leading the fight against Democratic and Republican tax and spending hikes and crafting landmark legislation to eliminate school property taxes, he’s earned broad base support from statewide taxpayer groups.

During his tenure on the House Education Committee, Sam authored the historic Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) scholarship. To date, some 33,000 Pennsylvania students have been empowered to attend private or enhanced public school programs because of the initiative.


Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 6:30 - 8:00 PM

Clarks Summit Volunteer Fire Department

321 Bedford St.

Clarks Summit, PA 18411-1800

The other GOP candidates are Attorney General Tom Corbett, Congressman Jim Gerlach and Robert Mansfield.


Meet Robert "Sarge" Mansfield

Robert Mansfield Speech and Meet and Greet
Where: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on the Square
When: Saturday, December 19 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

This sends the wrong message

Indicted Pizzella heads W-B Area

A board member under indictment by the FBI was re-elected to the presidency of the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board on Monday, even as new directors were sworn in to replace two others caught up in the ongoing corruption investigation in the county.

Pizzella gets another term as Wilkes-Barre Area president

Six board members voted in favor of Pizzella, while two others, Lynn Evans and Robert Corcoran, abstained from voting. Maryanne Toole voted against Pizzella.

Yes, "everybody is innocent until proven guilty” as Joe Moran said but keeping him as board president tells us that nothing will change.

The arraignment of Pizzella on a conspiracy charge is scheduled for Dec. 18.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Kanjo on Obama's visit to Allentown

Congressman Kanjorski answers some questions after the President's visit to Allentown.

A choice quote from Kanjorski:

Our opposition is the just say no people, which is basically the Republican Party.They want us to lose in Afghanistan, have an unemployment rate of 15 to 20 percent because that would be to their political advantage.

The Pennsylvania Progressive has more.

21 and counting

Wilkes-Barre Area VoTech employee Jeffrey Piazza got caught lining his pockets. His old man got him the job as Technology Coorrdinator then he got bumped upstairs to attendence coordinator to make room for a relative of another board member.

Piazza agrees to guilty plea

Jeffrey Piazza will plead guilty to accepting kickbacks

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Will he or won't he

Shira Toeplitz reported yesterday in CQ Politics that Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta will make an announcement next Wednesday about his plans to run yet again for Congress.

Vince Galko sent out an email yesterday:

“In recent days many of you have reached out to me or to Mayor Barletta directly to inquire about his potential candidacy in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. Thank you for your interest and patience. This is an important decision and Mayor Barletta is giving it the strong consideration it deserves. As he has said many times, Mayor Barletta is focused on the City of Hazleton and its budget. He is also working on some very exciting projects for the city.”

Congressman Paul Kanjorski's longtime campaign adviser, Ed Mitchell, confirmed Monday that the 13-term Congressman has yet to make a statement about his re-election plans -- although he added that he's campaigning as if he is running for re-election.

"The Congressman has not made a statement about running next year, but I can tell you he's raising funds for a campaign and working very hard to represent his district by creating jobs, fighting for affordable health care for all Americans and protecting Medicare and Social Security."

My bet is that he makes the race. Why hold an event to say you're not running?

More complaints from Carolee

Picking up where she left off in her first term as Prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski last week was complaining about the rug in her office.

Now she is upsetting the new found unity of the Luzerne County Republican Party saying the organization should not take credit for her election and wants her pictures removed from the new county GOP website. I lifted both of them from the site. She complains that some people couldn't attend the Michael Steele event because they didn't pony up $50 to join the Club GOP. “A lot of people agree with me...A lot of people who have been very active with the Republican Party couldn’t afford to go see Michael Steele that night,” Olenginski said. “To me, that’s wrong. If you’re trying to build a strong party, everyone should be welcome; if you’re trying to build something, you shouldn’t put up walls to keep people out.” She also is upset with the lack of financial support from the party. Controller-elect Walter Griffith said “Honestly, I don’t think the party has much money to hand out yet. But they did step up and helped me and Carolee, as well.”

Chairman Terry Casey pointed out “If she was unable to attend our functions, we always spoke on her behalf; we did what we could for her.” I can attest to that. She was a no show at the Operation HEART kickoff and Executive Director Renita Fennick sang her praises.
No word of what she thinks of the decor of the party HQ in W-B. It's going to be a fun 4 years.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

20 and counting

To no one's surprise Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole has copped a plea. We have speculating about this since last spring and it was just a matter of time after he announced that he was taking a vacation 2 weeks ago.

WILKES-BARRE - Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of honest services fraud and filing a false income tax return, the U.S. Attorney's office announced today.

CV: The U.S. Attorney's Office alleged Toole ruled in the unnamed attorney's favor in a case involving a vehicle insurance arbitration. Toole is also accused of concealing a $30,000 cash referral fee in 2006 and failing to report it on his tax return.

The charges

The plea agreement

PA reaction to the President's Afghan speech

Senator Arlen Specter

“I oppose sending 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan because I am not persuaded that it is indispensable in our fight against Al Qaeda. If it was, I would support an increase because we have to do whatever it takes to defeat Al Qaeda since they’re out to annihilate us. But if Al Qaeda can operate out of Yemen or Somalia, why fight in Afghanistan where no one has succeeded?

“I disagree with the President’s two key assumptions: that we can transfer responsibility to Afghanistan after 18 months and that our NATO allies will make a significant contribution. It is unrealistic to expect the United States to be out in 18 months so there is really no exit strategy. This venture is not worth so many American lives or the billions it will add to our deficit.”

Challenger Congressman Joe Sestak

"President Obama has presented a plan that will allow us to finally complete a mission that is as indispensable today as it was eight years ago: the elimination of the Al Qaeda terrorists who struck us on 9/11," said Joe Sestak. "It is a difficult decision. After years of war and with economic challenges at home, the American people are justified in their concern about an increased commitment in Afghanistan. But the President has made the right call. If we leave Al Qaeda behind in a safe haven and are struck again, what can we ever say to those we swore to protect?

"From the outset of this debate, I have called for a strategy that is focused on Al Qaeda in Pakistan, is not overly dependent on nation-building in Afghanistan and is not open-ended. The President stated similar goals. But, while I support the President's overall approach, I will be looking for further details. First, the clear emphasis of our overall goal must remain focused on eliminating the safe haven in Pakistan. And second, we should measure our progress not by a fixed timetable, but by benchmarks of achieving America's security. We therefore must be provided those benchmarks of success and/or failure that trigger an exit or alternative strategy."

11th CD Democratic Candidate Corey O'Brien sent out out this email before the speech

As President Obama prepares to speak this evening about our troop commitment in Afghanistan, I am hopeful that the President will match any increase in troop levels with a renewed call for a bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan and for the Afghan government to root out corruption within its ranks. Corruption within Afghanistan has led to weakened popular support for the government, and a flourishing drug trade that has turned Afghanistan into the world’s largest narco-state. I believe that taking these actions will be critical to making real progress in Afghanistan, reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and fighting global terrorism, a growing drug trade, and international corruption.

Unsure of our resolve in Afghanistan over the last eight years, Pakistan has been hedging its bets and has been friendly to both the United States and the Taliban at the same time. To achieve regional stability, however, we must engage Pakistan and secure their unwavering commitment as a serious and lasting partner in our fight to eliminate terrorism. By collaborating with Pakistan to root out terrorists and secure and upgrade the country’s military equipment pipeline, we can bring stability to the region and reduce the global terrorism threats we face at home.

Republican 11th CD hopefull Chris Paige

Senator John McCain got it right: the President's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan is correct, but his decision to set an arbitrary withdrawal date is ludicrous...and ironic. In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, the Democratic Party successfully demanded the premature withdrawal of federal troops from the South, and the result was the horrifyingly racist policy known as Jim Crow. Despite its flaws, Radical Reconstruction would have ended legal segregation in the 1870's instead of the 1970's, and one can only imagine how much suffering this nation in general and African-Americans in particular might have avoided if federal troops had remained in the South to protect the biracial governments (usually led by Republicans) that Southern Democrats, often in league with the KKK, overthrew once our troops left. Similarly, the President's policy might create a "stable" government in Afghanistan, but his policy virtually guarantees that Afghanistan's women and its religious minorities will be oppressed by whatever unholy Taliban-inspired government takes over after we leave. (After all, the Solid South was stable, even as the Democratic Party and its allies in the Klan moved quickly to deny African-Americans their legal rights.) The Afghan people deserve better; our troops and their families deserve better. In words of my fellow Republican Ulysses S. Grant, we should accept nothing less than the Taliban's and Al Qaeda's "Unconditional Surrender."

I'm sure Congressmen Carney and Kanjorski will have statements out later today and we may even hear from Lou Barletta. Other prospective candidates such as Malcolm Derk, Dan Naylor and Dan Meuser are welcome to send me their thoughts that I will be happy to publish.

Lu Lac analyzes the situation and Zen is his usual open minded self. My friends at CSPT heard want they want and advocate endless war.


Congressman Chris Carney

"It is critical that we not back down from terrorists who threaten our long-term security. Sending additional troops into Afghanistan will give us the military manpower to contain al-Qaeda and the Taliban while laying the groundwork for the Afghan military to step up and the Afghan government to implement long-needed reforms.

I am, however, concerned about the narrow timeframe that the president has presented. While our commitment cannot be open-ended, the reality on the ground in Afghanistan must dictate the actual timeframe. It could take 18 months for our troops to be fully deployed and trained and equipped for battle. The president did an excellent job laying out the reasons for the overall policy, but I will reserve judgment until I see the full details of the plan.

Demonstrating a commitment to our efforts in Afghanistan will signal our resolve to the region and help Pakistan focus its attention on fighting terrorism on its side of the border.”

Congressman Paul Kanjorski hasn't released a statement but had this to say

Kanjorski said he wants to give the president "the benefit of the doubt" on his decision but wonders if the pursuit of a stable Afghanistan will only shift the problem.

"I'm looking forward to having an exit strategy," he said. "I don't want to support a 10-, 20-year commitment. ... We could spend ourselves into bankruptcy in Afghanistan."

Get well PJ

Regular commenter and veteran of the Hackett-Meuser wars of last year PJ the WB lefty is having a bit of a rough patch. A pal tells me that he loves politics and political blogs and continues to read them and would appreciate best wishes from the blogging community. We look forward to seeing you at another blogger meet-up soon my friend.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dan Meuser for Congress-the sequel?

"I have been thinking about it and strongly assessing the situation." -Dan Meuser

Borys has a rundown of the possible Republican candidates that may take on Congressman Chris Carney (PA-10) next year. They are:

-Malcolm Derk, of Freeburg, a Snyder County commissioner.

- Leonard Modzelesky, of South Abington Township, former operations manager at WNEP-TV.

-Dan Naylor, of Benton Township, a Lackawanna Trail school director and unsuccessful candidate for state representative in 2002.

-Leslie Sheridan, of Towanda in Bradford County, a retired educator.

-Steven Solieri, of Salem Township in Wayne County, an accounting professor at Queens College in New York City.

And Dan Meuser, of Harveys Lake and other places, the former president of Pride Mobility Products, who dropped $2.5 million in an unsuccessful run for the nomination last year. If Meuser decides to run again I hope he learned from his mistakes in the last campaign. The biggest one in my opinion was clearing the field and making it an insider/outsider race with Chris Hackett and framing his campaign as Pride Mobility for Congress. His selling point was the he was the head of very successful company, Pride Mobility, that grew over the years and created some good jobs with the implication he would be able to replicate that throughout the district. That opened him up to answering for everything that Pride had ever done wrong by design or circumstance whether or not he had anything to do with the situation. If he does run again I hope we can look forward to a spirited discussion from Zen, KAR, Sassy, PJ and the rest of our regulars.

Other than Meuser and Derk I don't know much about the other names dropped in the article but our newest local political blogger, NEPArtisan, has taken a look at them.
Naylor has campaign experience and political experience as a School Director at Lackawanna Trail. That’ll help. Modzelesky has media experience, which will help if he’s got the money to do big media buys. Sheridan and Solieri have education backgrounds, which is respectable, but not nearly enough to give them an edge.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Untangling the web

"I just look at the little tab that has my name next to them and I sign them.- Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak

Mike Buffer has great rundown of the latest web of deceit that we call Luzerne County government in the Citizens Voice today.

The crime fighting research trips to New York City by a bunch of county officials who have nothing to do with law enforcement were never approved by the board of commissioners and in many cases were paid for by county debit cards that got them all into hot water. The crime fighting superheros are Skrep, former Chief Clerk Sam Guesto, former Human Resources Director Doug Richards, indicted multi job holder Bill Maguire, exotic dance critic prison Deputy Sam Hyder and the best dressed man in Luzerne County, Bill Brace. No changes in policy resulted from the research although Skrep wanted to buy a $2 million computer system that none of the local police departments could agree on.

Since then we have learned that Doug Richards invented a company to do payroll work for the county drawing up a contract that was never approved by the commissioners but invoices were still approved by the Controller's office. Nobody seems to know anything about Continental Consultants Group Inc. and B&M Investigations Inc. or William Grub and John Luango. Grub and Luango are retired NYC cops that have done well in the security consultant business. They are doing so well that Luzerne County paid B&M $35,000 for a background policy report that no one can find. Reputation is everything.

Some choice Skrep highlights and quotes:

Skrepenak also denies knowledge that two retired New York City police detectives involved with those trips had business ties to county contracts now being investigated by the FBI and the county solicitor....Skrepenak has acknowledged that several former top aides are talking to federal investigators and could implicate him in the ongoing corruption probe...Skrepenak said he didn't know this month Grub and Luongo had ties to contracts between Luzerne County and two companies - Continental Consultants Group Inc. and B&M Investigations Inc..."What we found is guys who have 20 years in the police department, they don't make great money with the NYPD," Skrepenak said...

Skrepenak said he didn't notice that Grub was listed as B&M president when he signed the $35,000 contract. He said he "didn't know specifically who B&M was" and doesn't "look at whose names are on" contracts he signs.

Luzerne County Spokesperson

The job has been vacant since Kathy Bozinski got dumped in a cost cutting move a few years ago but I heard a rumor that the position will be filled in the near future.

The leading candidates are pictured here.