Saturday, February 28, 2009

YouTube weekend

I never thought that violins could be so much fun

André Rieu And the Johann Strauss Orchestra will be appearing at the Wachovia Arena in W-B Twp. Friday, May 15th at 8:00 p.m.


A Grapefruit League game between our World Series Champs Phillies and the American League pennant winners Tampa Rays is on the teevee today. Ryan Howard hit a homer and both teams have used about 10 pitchers so far. The score doesn't matter because it is just good to see big league hardball and that means that spring is on the way. Kill the Goundhog

Elephants on the move

The new executive director of the Luzerne County Republican Party, Renita Fennick, thinks "people around here are mostly conservative, even if they have a D after their name. They just might not know it.” We just have to be educated. To set us straight our local R's will be bringing Karl Rove to town.
The fact that the county Republican party can afford a full time executive director, a permanent HQ on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre and pay Karl Rove to appear at a rubber chicken dinner shows that they have some money to spend. It looks like the big money back mountain boys that drop big bucks into national Republican campaigns but in the past have contributed to local Democrats have seen the error of their ways and are financing the local GOP. But I haven't checked the finance reports lately so they could be playing both sides of the fence like Multi-Party Bob Mericle.
Now that the Republican nomination is actually worth something because of the scandals in the courthouse the top dogs are planning to endorse candidates in the primary just like the Democrats. The endorsement process is necessary because of the high number of Republicans who have expressed interest in seeking the party’s nomination for county row offices, Chairman Terry Casey said.“Every day I hear of someone else who picked up petitions or who inquired about running,” Casey said. “If we have multiple candidates for the county row offices, which we expect, we will endorse. It’s a very exciting time for us.” I think that is a bad move. The local GOP has been divided into factions for a long time and an open primary with the agreement of all the candidates to unite behind the winners would be a better approach.
Congrats to Chairman Terry Casey on his election as the chairman of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry. He will be working closely with former Democratic Luzerne County Commissioner (Bond Brother) Todd Vonderheid.
On Thursday the party will be hosting a dog and pony show at the Republican HQ, 25 Public Square in Wilkes-Barre with Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta as the headliner. Registered Republicans running for county-level office who are seeking the party endorsement will be allotted time to address the group.
Maybe we can make this into a blogger meetup and go to Big Ugly's afterward.

YouTube weekend

Youtube weekend request: "Unbelievable" by EMF

It seems fitting after reading all of this.


The Fair tax

Tonight Mrs. G came up with a good idea for funding the state government. Tax toilet paper in addition to the sales tax. Instead of picking on smokers, drinkers, etc. enact of a tax that would wipe across the whole population. You can live without many things but TP is not one of them so the revenue stream is guaranteed even in a recession. That's why we own stock in P&G.

Bad puns and bathroom humor are expected in the comments.

Update: Bottom-up environmentalism

Friday, February 27, 2009

Juvie brothers update

There are now 3 class action lawsuits on behalf of the children who were the victims of Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella who railroaded them through the juvinile justice system. The suits says the judges and other defendants conspired to perpetrate "what ranks as one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system.

Luzerne County President Judge Chet Muroski confirmed that the probe involves more than the PA Child Care investigation. This thing is expanding into allegations that civil cases were being fixed.

Judges Peter Paul Olszewski and Michael Toole have been interviewed by the FBI and we wonder if their stays at the condo in Florida has any thing to do with the feds interest.

Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran is playing "Lets make a Deal" claiming that some people allegedly attempted, without Moran’s "full knowledge and consent, to use Moran to facilitate frauds.” Mark Guydish in the TL doesn't buy it. Moran has always claimed to be the unintentional political puppet, not the puppeteer; the piece being played, not the player. It’s a role she took on again this week with the deal struck in the federal courthouse investigation. She didn’t commit fraud, she was used by those committing it. She is the head of the W-Cat company that was suppossed to be building houses in Mountaintop. Some of her partners were the the Juvie Brother Judges and her law partner Robert Powell plus some people that I know that are going to be hurt .

Conahan's cousin Bill Sharkey was officially fired after pleading guilty to stealing more than $70,000 of seized gambling money over 10 years. He stopped reporting to his courthouse job on Aug. 20, a day after federal agents served a subpoena on his office for records connected to money seized in illegal gambling cases. During his leave from work, Sharkey maintained possession of a county vehicle and county mobile phone. Ciavarella approved the paid leave of absence for Sharkey. Who the hell is in charge, if anyone, of keeping track of county vehicles?

Conahan's brother in law millionaire psychologist Dr. Frank Vita and forger Sandra M. Brulo are also in trouble.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I picked this up from an old Mike McGlynn column.

One of the reforms adopted recently is requiring county employees to show up at the courthouse on payday to pick up their checks. Many county workers considered this a brazen affront to their integrity, or, lack thereof. As one story goes, a veteran no-show county employee from up Pittston way was furious when his neighbor, of similar employ, told him they now would have to be at the courthouse in person to be paid. The angry man became even angrier when he went to the courthouse the next payday and was told his name did not appear on the county payroll. Muttering dark oaths against his political patrons, he returned home empty-handed. Subsequently, he learned he was to have reported to the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre -- not the courthouse in Scranton.

Luzerne County Controller


Nanda Palissery (left) kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday for Luzerne County controller at Luzerne County Republican Headquarters on Public Square. Palissery said “For too long, there has been a Democrat culture of corruption in the courthouse. Enough is enough.” He is a lawyer that focuses on criminal defense and civil litigation and ran for Judge a few years ago. I understand that Palissery is the favorite to win the endorsement of the county GOP in the primary.

Another Republican also announced her intention to seek the office. Alice B. Coffman has worked as a certified public accountant for the last 16 years. I am very disheartened by the inappropriate behavior recently uncovered within our local government,” Coffman said in a statement. “The citizens of Luzerne County have the right to expect the highest level of professional conduct from their elected officials.” Wow, a CPA with plan to audit various county programs if elected. She wants to “implement and enforce internal control procedures to deter future misconduct and wasteful spending." So far she is the only candidate for this accountant's job that is a professional accountant. We can't have that, can we?

Our friend Walter Griffith will formally announce his bid for the Controller's job today at the Luzerne County Republican Headquarters, 25 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre at 6PM. He previously let us know that he is running for the post. And in the Department of 'if you live long enough' Wilkes-Barre Online is backing him.

On the Democratic side longtime party insider Bob Morgan is seeking the post as is Pittston landscaper Tony Rostock. Rostock was a former Pittston Area School Board member and Yatesville councilman and got a sweet deal at LCCC. Morgan is an investment advisor and it would be great if he could offer some advise on how to make up my 401k losses over the last 2 years. Educator Russ Bigus is also in the race.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What we are famous for

Yesterday I was interviewed by Tom-Jan Meeus who is the Washington correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsplad about the Ciavarella/Conahan scheme to lock up kids for cash. The Juvie Brothers. I'm not sure why people in Holland would be interested in this sordid affair but I'll talk with anyone about politics. He said this case fascinates him and he stumbled across this humble blog while researching the story.

He asked if I thought if any reforms would be made to our system of selecting Judges or if a debate was going on about the outsourcing of government functions that made this possible. I'm sorry to say I that don't see any structural reforms on the horizon. He wanted to know if I considered myself a cynic and I replied it's hard not to be but a better term would be that I'm a realist.

In a discussion with some friends we recounted what this area has been famous for over the years and the list is not good. The collapse of the coal industry, Hurricane Agnes, mass murderer George Banks, the Hugo Selenski escape and the kid that was living in someone's attic for a week were some of the things that came to mind.

CNN: Pennsylvania rocked by 'jailing kids for cash' scandal

The President speaks to Congress

After 8 long years it's great to able to utter the phrase "The President" instead of the present occupant of the White House. I took off early from work to hear him tell us things are tough but we will emerge better than ever ala saint Ronny. In the response Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sounded down right stupid when he cited the response to Hurricane Katrina as a highlight.

Some of my favorite lines:

"Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country."

"There is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father."

"For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price."

"Living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."

Some reaction.

From Congressman Chris Carney

“Tonight the President laid out his comprehensive approach to addressing the economic crisis facing our country. I appreciated his optimism and his candor—the President was honest about the challenges we face as a nation—but it is critical at this juncture that we remain disciplined and responsible when spending the taxpayers’ hard earned money.

“I met with the President at the White House two weeks ago to talk about the importance of fiscal responsibility and a budget that adheres to those principles.

Tonight, the President outlined his bold vision for a Financial Stability Plan with oversight and accountability. This plan is designed not to help banks, but to help people. It creates a guarantee that taxpayer money is safe, that our banks start lending and that if they do receive taxpayer funds, they will not be allowed to use them for their own perks. The oversight is a strong step in the right direction, but our spending must be curtailed so we do not continue passing debt onto our grandchildren.

“I remain concerned with the President’s housing plan. I represent a district where over 98% of people pay their mortgages on time. Northeast and central Pennsylvania is made up of hardworking, responsible people who did not fall prey to the greed and corruption we have seen dismantling our financial institutions on Wall Street.

Congressman Paul Kanjorski

“I applaud President Obama for speaking candidly to the American public about the difficult economic situation we now face. He has set significant goals for himself, the Congress, and the American people as he addressed new policies in dealing with the economy, the national budget, and our actions abroad. These are not light topics and the President has stated that he intends to deal with all of them simultaneously. But, it is this type of thoughtful and assertive thinking that will help move this country forward and take us out of the troubled situation in which we find ourselves.

“As the President stressed, we must come together for the sake of every American. Partisanship is not an option. While we may disagree, we must try to move past these obstacles. Our primary responsibility is helping every American recover from the economic crisis, and as a result boosting our nation’s economy.

Just since President Obama was sworn into office, we have already taken momentous steps towards such progress. While there is certainly room for improvement, President Obama has shown a distinct willingness to turn this country around.

“As we work to turn the tide on our economic problems, we must also work to ensure that a financial crisis of this magnitude does not happen again. The President stressed the need to pursue regulatory reforms of the financial services industry, and I strongly support this idea. I have long stressed the need for comprehensive regulatory reform, and I have already held two hearings this year to highlight why the Congress must expeditiously address this issue in the 111th Congress. I applaud President Obama for also recognizing the importance of this issue.

“As I have continued to stress, fixing our economy will not happen overnight, but I have faith that we will emerge from these tough times stronger than ever.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You need a "live" ticker to keep up with the Luzerne County courthouse corruption

That was a comment from Big Dan.

Well Dan, some local interested citizen created one and thanks for writing my next few posts in the comments.

Luzerne County Courthouse News

In blogger parlance the site is a link factory but a very welcome one.

It also includes links to all the legal documents such as indictments and plea agreements.

Luzerne County Republicans

Some of us were hoping that new Luzerne County Republican Chairman Terry Casey wouldn't try to mimic the the local Democrats by trying to force candidates out of the primary. The reports I have been getting points to the opposite and this story in the TL confirms it:

County GOP endorsements likely

I have nothing against Attorney Nanda Pallisary but Casey is not doing him any favors by trying to force Walter Griffith and Bob Sypnewski out of the race. Yes, a primary race cost money that could be spent in the general election but a primary raises the name recognition of the eventual winner. I think it would be beneficial for our local GOP to have a contest as long as it doesn't turn into a bloodbath like the Mueser/Hackett race in the the 10th CD last year.

Former Democratic Commissioner Edd Brominski (what's with 2 D's ?) has also announced his intention to run for Controller as a Republican. More on Bromo to come.

Jill Moran out

Times Leader File photo / Clark Van Orden

As predicted on this blog a few weeks ago Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran has resigned. Her business ties to the the Juvie Brothers, Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, and law partner of Participant 1, Robert Powell has made her position untenable. The way that this has been playing out an indictment can't be far off.

She falsified a tax lien by changing Powell's name to John Doe. At the time I wasn't sure if that was a crime but a few lawyer friends say it is and the Feds seem to agree. During the last election Carolee Medico Olenginski accused her of not spending much time in the office and it was revealed that she had a clerk, Lana Bidwell, sign her name to official documents when she wasn't around proving Carolee's point.

She was a key attorney for Robert Powell's and Greg Zappala's PA Child Care facility that is the center of the corruption charges against the Judges and is listed as the head of W-Cat Inc., a firm that is building The Sanctuary, a town house development in Wright Township with Conahan, Ciavarella, Powell and others that recently went belly up.

I wonder if she got a chance to stay at the Florida condo and take a ride on the yacht, Reel Justice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

All in the Luzerne County family

Senator Cauly apologized for not coming personally -- he said you'd understand. Also, some of the judges. They've all sent gifts. -Tom Hagen to Vito Corleone in the Godfather

We all know about the rampant nepotism in all levels of government in the county but now a different kind of "family" connection is being documented. According to Dave Janoski in the CV A witness will testify that one or both of the disgraced Luzerne County judges who’ve pleaded guilty to accepting millions in kickbacks have “direct connections” to jailed mobster William “Big Billy” D’Elia...D’Elia, 62, the longtime reputed head of the Bufalino crime family, is serving nine years in federal prison for money laundering and witness tampering.

When all this first broke it was rumored that much of the information was coming from D'Elia after he was arrested in 2006. Judge Michael Conahan's connection to Louis Denaples are well documented and DeNaples is accussed of lying about his connections to D'Elia when he applied for a casino license.

Billy D'Elia is the reputed successor to Russel Bufalino as the head of the Bufalino crime family. I have always been reluctant to write about Denaples and D'Elia and I noticed my local my local blogger colleagues are as well. Maybe it's because I like to have both of my knees in working order.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carney and Kanjo have a headache

Embattled firm donated thousands to Carney, Kanjorski

This is another reason why we need to get a public finance scheme for Congressional elections. Money=speech according to the Supreme Court. So some voices are louder than others.

Walter Griffith for Controller

Despite being urged by the Luzerne County Republican leadership to run for Prothonotary Walter Griffth is set to run for Controller.

Here is his announcement.

My name is Walter L Griffith Jr. and I am currently 54 years old and a lifelong resident of Luzerne County and pleased and proud to introduce myself to every taxpayer and citizen of Luzerne County as your 2009 Candidate for Luzerne County Controller.

My background regarding my qualifications for this very important position in County Government is that I currently own and manage my own Auto Repair business and have done so very successfully since 1989. I am also very active in managing an organization that is responsible to submit a budget and balance our books each year, as well as organize and facilitate the operation of an organization that covers 4 states.

I currently have been very active in Wilkes-Barre City Government, as well as Luzerne County Government, and have been very active in the daily operations of these governments for the taxpayers of the City and County and have made much progress in being sure that our elected officials are held accountable to “us” the taxpayers .

My presence at most County and City meetings has prompted our elected officials to more aware of the desires of the taxpayers as well as the best way to operate your government.

I am running as your County Controller and have demonstrated time and time again my desire to represent each and every taxpayer and citizen in Luzerne County by my constant asking of the “tough questions” of your elected officials and will continue to do this on your behalf if elected as your County Controller in 2009.

I represented “YOU” the taxpayers when the County Commissioners were going to plunge the County into more debt with regard to the 16 million dollar loan and was successful in representing “YOU” by having that amount reduced to only 5.6 Million.

I also was at the meetings to represent “YOU” when the Debit Card issue was happening and the feel the Controller should have known about this long before the people were swindled out of thousands of dollars.

I was at the courthouse when 21st Century Appraisals were doing our appraisals in a very shoddy and haphazard way that has cost the taxpayers of this County thousands of dollars.
I was at the Courthouse when the Salary Board was not functioning according to the law of the County Code as well and was very instrumental in helping your elected officials cut spending by my information.

My background politically is very simple…I am not related to any one in Luzerne County that works in the courthouse and I will not bankrupt my moral or ethic character to get elected to any position in government.. I will promise you that I will always be in the Office of County Controller and will work to bring “honesty and integrity” back to Luzerne County Government by being having Honesty and Integrity that you can trust and rely on in a person that you are voting for in government.

My past history and track record will speak for itself and please remember this quote on May 19th 2009 when you are casting your vote for County Controller…


Elect Walter L Griffith JR to Luzerne County Controller
He also got some nice press in Associated Content:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Luzerne County Home Rule

A crowd of about 50 people attended the Luzerne County Home Rule meeting at the NEPA Organizing Center in Wilkes-Barre tonight.

Luzerne Home Rule Chairman PJ Best (left) gave a tutorial to the candidates running for the Government Study Commission (GSC) on how to file nominating petitions and stressed the importance of electing the right people. He said the the outfit would be working to educate the public about the need for a GSC and a yes vote on the question that will be on the May primary ballot. He promised that all candidates will be given access to the website to post their qualifications and put their video presentations on YouTube. He hopes that an interactive forum can be developed. A voters guide and DVD are in the works and a big fundraiser is being planned for late March/early April.

Some of the prospective GSC candidates then were given an opportunity to address the crowd.

Phil Struzerri warned that there are some people that are running for the GSC with the intention of making sure that Home Rule is scuttled.

Courtdale Mayor James Gaughan is also a high school government teacher who said he always gave his salary back to the town much to chagrin of his wife.

Walter Griffith brought along a copy of the county code from 1955 that is still the governing document and made the obvious point that it is antiquated. To change anything it requires an act of the PA Legislature and we know how quickly those guys act.

Ed Transue is Social Studies teacher who got pissed off over the reassessment when it "made me a millionaire on paper." He stressed that "without integrity you have nothing."

CJ Kersey is a Government teacher at Wyoming Seminary and a volunteer for the Obama campaign who said he will be open minded.

Rick Morelli was a member of the Hazleton Area School Board a few years ago and pointed out that he doesn't have any relatives employed by Luzerne County. He repeated the oft heard phrase government should be run like a business.

Ray Gustove wants better internal financial controls.

Frank Sindaco, the host of the event, explained that he is not a politician but felt compelled to run for the GSC.

Paul Krumbel is a union electrician that was uncomfortable speaking in front of a crowd.

Recent W-B council candidate Pete Gagliardi gave a mercifully short pitch.

Only one woman came forward to volunteer to be a candidate for the GSC and she pointed that out. Meghan Godwin is a philosophy teacher that would give the GSC a different view.

After the program I asked PJ Best who was on the Luzerne County Home Rule Committee and he gave me a vague answer. He named the officers but I neglected to ask who elected them to their positions. I also asked the director of the NEPA Organizing Center who was paying for the place, he told me that it was coming out of his pocket.

Luzerne County bidding

I've heard a few versions of this over the years. The latest incarnation dropped into my inbox today:

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre ; one from Luzerne County , one from Columbia County, one from Lehigh County .

They all go with a courthouse official to examine the fence.The Columbia County contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. 'Well', he says, 'I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100profit for me. 'The Lehigh County contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, 'I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials,$300 for my crew and $100 profit for me. '

The Luzerne County contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the courthouse official and whispers, '$2,700.'The official, incredulous, whispers back, 'You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure? The Luzerne county contractor whispers back, '$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire that guy from Lehigh County to fix the fence.''Done!' replies the government official.

Luzerne County Controller

I think this post is most important office in the county government. My friend Steve Flood was the best Controller in my memory. He questioned the PA Child Care lease right from the beginning and maybe if he had been reelected this mess with the Judges might have been exposed earlier.

Since our acting Controller pledged not to seek election to the office and had a wardrobe malfunction while he was shitfaced the field is wide open.

The big news in this race is former Luzerne County Democratic Commissioner Edd Brominski announced his intention Tuesday to run for Luzerne County controller in the primary as a Republican. After he lost the Commissioner's race in 1983 he landed a county job as chief assessor and was fired after he ran again for Commissioner. He sued the county for wrongful termination and got a settlement in federal court.

In his interview with Heidi Ruckno in the CV he claimed he was aware of corruption a long time ago. “I was aware of some of those things that happened, and when I tried to make them known, I was, frankly, fired for it.”

My question is why did you stop there Edd? If you were aware of corruption why didn't you go to the authorities at the time and if they didn't listen blab it to the press?

And what about this:

Brominski was first elected Luzerne County commissioner in 1979. He lost his 1983 re-election bid amid a voter fraud scandal, which he declined to discuss in federal court, according to The Citizens’ Voice archive.

I was in the Air Force in 1983 and stationed in England so I don't have any idea about a voter fraud scandal at that time. Give me some help in the comments. Our local polical historian, David Yonki, has some of Bromo's ups and downs and remembers that his father was a Judge.

Other candidates in the race are Democrats Russ Bigus and Tony Rostock who allegedly cut a deal with Pittston litigation specialist Wil Toole according to Toole is now out of the race. On the Republican side Wilkes-Barre activist Walter Griffith is running for this post and the Study Commission. Attorney Nanda Palissery seems to be the early favorite of the Republican powers that be.

Other candidates mentioned are Alice B. Coffman, Bob Morgan and Bob Sypniewski.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bill Sharkey is an embezzler

W-B: Luzerne County Court Administrator William T. Sharkey pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement this morning in federal court.

Usually a plea agreement and a court hearing answers the questions surrounding the crime. But there are many questions that have not been answered yet in this case. Reading the Indictment and Plea agreement I have to ask which Judges signed the forfeiture orders and why was he able to get away this for 10 years? The theft was discovered when the state police went to District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll to ask for some of the ill gotten gains to buy some new equipment. She checked the accounts and discovered the money wasn't there and called in the FBI. I find it hard to believe that the state police and other agencies were not aware of past forfeitures and asked for a piece of the pie.

Her predecessor, who is now a Judge, David Lupas was the District Attorney for most of the time that Sharkey was stealing these funds. We all know that paperwork and accountability were not Lupas' strong points. Lupas recently sentenced a Pittston Township secretary who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $31,000 from the township to house arrest. Judge Mark Ciavarella did the same thing when a couple of people got caught stealing really big bucks from the Recorder of Deeds office.

Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran is a deadbeat, according to bank

Moran holds the offices of president, secretary and treasurer of W-Cat that was supposed to be building townhouses in Wright Township. The project is a bust and the other investors include her law partner Robert Powell and judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. Louis DeNaples bank, First National Community Bank of Dunmore, sued Tuesday seeking $4.15 million in connection with defaulted loans they guaranteed for the failed townhouse development.

Idiot watch

W-B- Police arrested a man for suspicion of DUI early Sunday after finding him passed out behind the wheel in the drive-through lane of a 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant, Wilkes-Barre police said Monday...Officers were called to the store around 3:35 a.m. on the report of a man sleeping behind the wheel in the drive-through lane...Hilpp tried to wake Pearson, but initially couldn’t. After several attempts, Hilpp was able to wake him.

No word if he ordered a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder before he passed out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Joe Terrana for Judge

Before a crowd of over 200 people today Pittston attorney Joe Terrana at the FM Kirby Center announced he is running for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County. His kids lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and recounted his roots of growing up in Pittston.

He was genuinely funny explaining that when he went to confession he hoped to have a priest that couldn't hear him and wouldn't remember what he said. He worked in Washington and locally for Congressman Paul Kanjorski and told a story of how hard it is to say no to Kanjo when he wants you to work for him.

A few thing connected with me. He recounted when he was just 13 years old he watched the Watergate hearings and was taught that not even the President of the United States could get away with violating the public trust. I'm also a Watergate baby. He said when he was working as an attorney working in DC and Virginia he knew he wouldn't be part of the community and wanted to return home. I felt the same way when I lived in Boston. He stated that he was able to say no to people when they asked him to do something he thought was not on the up and up by asking himself how would his parents feel if he if did something dishonorable.

There were many lawyers there so I took the advice of my friend David and put my wallet in an inside pocket. Just kidding guys. I spotted Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton and former Luzerne County Commissioner who is now the Chamber of Commerce head honcho Todd Vonderheid in the audience.

I had a nice chat with Congressman Paul Kanjorski who admitted to reading my blog as Joe does as well. He said he is a big fan of blogs which surprised me. We discussed his new found celebrity as a result of the Bernie Madoff hearings and his scaring the bejeezus of out of us in his C-Span appearance. I also told him that his press secretary, Abbie McDonough, is doing a great job of keeping us informed. He said that "you are only sane one out there." My wife would disagree.

I asked Joe one question. Another candidate said I won’t accept any donations from attorneys or members of their families,” Marsilio said. “As a lawyer, I was taught to always avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.”

He said "I'm not a rich man." And would take contributions from lawyers.

Here is his press release.


Wilkes-Barre- Citing his experience as a public servant and years of dedicated service to his clients and community, today, Attorney Joe Terrana announced his candidacy for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County.

“Since graduating from law school, my career decisions reflect an unwavering commitment to our community and an abiding faith in the potential of Luzerne County ,” Terrana explained.

“As a lawyer, local Congressional aide, housing and community developer and volunteer public authority member, I know our community extremely well -- and I have demonstrated that my highest priority is helping our region.”

“At this critical moment, what our residents need and deserve – now more than ever – is a Judicial Branch they can count on for fairness, justice, and compassion. I know I can help restore the integrity of our Judicial Branch because these have been the very guideposts of my two decades of public service. And they will be the pillars of my service as Judge.”

Attorney Joe Terrana practices law in Kingston with Terrana Law, P.C., handling a variety of issues including real estate transactions, business start-up, commercial and personal injury litigation, and estates. He previously practiced in the litigation department of Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn, P.C., and with Joel A. DeBoe & Associates, of Arlington , Virginia . He is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He is also an associate member of the Virginia State Bar.
Attorney Terrana also currently serves as Counselor to Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11). In this position he assists constituents with a wide variety of federal issues, works with community leaders on projects to improve the quality of life of their residents and assesses the local impact of federal legislation and regulations. From 1992 to 2001, he served as District Director for the Congressman, and during law school he worked on Capitol Hill.

His varied career includes six years as Director of the Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania Community Business Center of Fannie Mae, where he spearheaded efforts to prevent predatory lending practices and foreclosures in the Poconos, helped business in communities like Wilkes-Barre and Scranton assist their employees in buying homes and helped re-build neighborhoods with organizations like CityVest in Wilkes-Barre and the Pine Street Neighborhood in Hazleton.
Attorney Terrana is the co-founder and President of the Luzerne County Housing Partnership, a non-profit corporation that provides education resources to local families, communities, elected officials and housing industry professionals on homeownership and neighborhood rebuilding. He is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority and the Luzerne County Rail Corporation, a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Pittston Meals on Wheels, and member of the Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association. He serves as a Parish Facilitator for Called to Holiness and Mission : Pastoral Planning in the Diocese of Scranton. He is a member of the St. John the Evangelist Core Committee, Chairman of the St. John the Evangelist Marketing of Buildings Committee, Instructor for the St. John the Evangelist's Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.

Attorney Terrana attended elementary and middle school in the Pittston Area School District and is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School . He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Villanova University and his Juris Doctorate from George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, where he was a member of the Law Review and President of Phi Delta Phi Honor Fraternity.

He and his wife, the former Cindy Wysokinski, and their two six year olds, Jake, and Lola, reside in Greater Pittston.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Other stuff

The Judges are still crooks and the TL says one of them was mixed up with drug dealers.
According to the comments on my last post I'm a "dumb" " jerk-off". Thanks for elevating the debate.
There are hundreds of people running for Judge in Luzerne County and I don't know why anyone would even want the job in this atmosphere.

The county GOP is making some noise but the powers that be are trying to clear the field for their favs. Primary's are good people, it raises the name recognition of the eventual winner.
I'm going back to play with the puppy. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Karl Rove is coming to town

WILKES-BARRE -Terry Casey, chairman of the Luzerne county Republican Party, said an announcement will be made soon that Karl Rove will speak at the group’s dinner in late March at Genetti’s, Wilkes-Barre.
The county's GOP financial picture must be improving if they can afford to bring in a heavy hitter like Rove to share his wisdom. I'm sure he is not doing this for free.
I think it is interesting that he has been blathering all over the FOX News airwaves but is still fighting subpoenas to appear before the House of Representatives to answer questions in his role in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 for political reasons. He also needs to explain his involvement in blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame and many other things.
It will be interesting to hear what advice he gives our local elephants on how to create a "permanent Republican majority." His formula of division and hate really worked out well for them on the national level.

A True Romantic

A guest post.


A Valentines Day Message from Mean Old Man

I’m madder than Rod Blagojevich at a wiretappers convention over the fact that the stupid commie holiday of Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, yet again!!!

Of course, all of the dimwit Valentine products have been in the stores since around Labor Day, so I doubt that any guy who values his life can get away without buying a gift. My goofy sons Harlan and Clay will be out and about, buying roses, candy and theater tickets that they really can’t afford, just so their Jezebel wives will know that they still have loving husbands. What a bunch of tripe!!! In my day your wife knew you loved her because you were good enough to put a ring on her finger to save her from the shame of being an old maid at 17! Take that all you commie losers!!!!

And a woman was happy just being a housewife; you didn’t have this “career woman” poppycock!!! Though, in my day newly married women did want careers too. When Thelma Jean and me got home from the church on our wedding day (we didn’t waste time with sissy receptions and honeymoon trips back then) I opened up the kitchen closet and gave her the gift every woman needs---a mop and a pail. Lucky ol’ gal got the best of both worlds, a wedding present and a career all at once!

Of course, the liberal, Wall Street snobs who read this dumb blog probably think that everything that I have said so far is offensive. To hell with them!!! They don’t know me at all. If they think that I hate women or disrespect them, they better think again. As our sainted American President Ronald Reagan once said, “If it weren’t for the little ladies, we men would all still be living in caves.” (Ol’ Gloria Steinham nearly had a stroke when Ronnie spoke those pearls of wisdom back in the day---serves her right!!!).

As far as I’m concerned, God created Man and then woman. The Man was to be the hunter and provider and the woman was to clean the house, cook the food and bear the children in pain. How can anyone argue with such a brilliant system!

But for years we’ve had this dumb holiday celebrating St. Valentine (who by the way, was an imprisoned subversive and one of the founding fathers of the Communist Party) to empty the pockets of every man in the civilized world.

Then there’s the hypocrisy of the feminists. They cry and whine about how they want to be equal to us men, but then they go ballistic if their husband doesn't wine and dine them on Valentine's Day. They scream about how they don't want to be viewed as sex objects, yet they have their husband buy them perverted lingerie (which consists of not even enough material to dress up one of the horseflies in my barn). I often tell my wife Thelma Jean that she would look good in a potato sack (and there were some lean years which that was all she actually had to wear!); but, of course, that's not good enough for today's loose women.

OF course, the height of the hypocrisy is the days and weeks before this ridiculous holiday. Every husband out there knows the truth of what I'm about to say: Your wife will keep telling you, "Don't get me anything this year, money's tight and we could use it for something more sensible"---GOD HELP YOU IF YOU DON'T GET HER ANYTHING!!! (The above scenario applies also to Birthdays, Christmas, and most of all, ANNIVERSARIES).

So, I call on our new President, Barack Obama, to do the men of America a good turn. Mr. President, you have basically thrown government into every aspect of my private life anyway; my banking, my smoking (Camels are the best!), and on and on and on. Why not go the distance; make a national address to the nation; outlaw St.Valentines Day, citing your liberal separation of church and state doctrine. For once, I will be in agreement with you, along with every God fearing, beef eating, cigarette smoking, beer drinking man in the good ol' USA!!!

To Hell with Gort, to Hell with liberalism, to Hell with a dozen roses that cost more than six months of feed for my chickens does, and most of all, to Hell with Gloria Steinham and Valentines Day!!!! I hate you all!!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sam Guesto gets the ax

And it's long overdue.

Guesto loses his court post

Eight, including Guesto, furloughed by county courts

My opinion is that he should have been fired after the debit card scandal broke. He was chased out of his job as Luzerne County Chief Clerk but landed a new gig as the Specialty Court Administrator. That post was invented by admitted criminal former President Judge Mark Ciavarella. His role in the PA Child Care lease is under investigation along with the piece mealing of contracts at the county prison to get around bidding requirements. And who knows what else.

Excluding all of the possible criminal stuff, Guesto was part of the Bond Bothers administration that every year presented county budgets that were full of numbers that seemed to be pulled out of thin air to create the illusion of a balanced budget.

I think that Mr. Guesto, Commissioner Greg Skrepenak, former Commissioner Todd Vonderheid and former County Budget Chief Sam Diaz , who is now at the Scranton Med School, should all be sentenced to a course in remedial arithmetic.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Juvie Brothers plead guilty

Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan pleaded guilty this afternoon to corruption charges. They face 87 months in prison, according to their plea agreements.

"I plead guilty your honor," Conahan said.

"Guilty, your honor," Ciavarella said.
There is more to come as the FBI is looking into the fixing of civil suits and the prisoner furlough program. Plus things that haven't hit the papers yet.

Home Rule meeting tonight

Thursday February 12, 2009 @ 7pm Hazleton City Council Chambers

Luzerne Home Rule Committee Meeting and GSC Information Session

Luzerne Home Rule is holding a committee meeting and Government Study Commission information session, open to the public. If you have any questions about Home Rule, the process, helping with the movement, or running for the Government Study Commission, come join this free event. The primary agenda item is determining how the committee will be endorsing a GSC ticket. Members of the 2001 GSC will be available to answer questions about serving on the commission.

Commissioner Steve Urban objects to the group endorsing candidates "I think this will turn off a large portion of interested candidates if people who aren’t endorsed have to raise money and campaign against a group." Luzerne Home Rule Chairman P.J. Best said the endorsement is intended to support viable candidates who don’t have political experience.
“I understand what the commissioner is saying, but a lot of people are going to be running because they’re against home rule,” Best said.

Two of the requirements the group has listed:

Not currently on the county payroll

Not interested in running for county office beyond the GSC

Powell says he was sqeezed

The lawyers for PA Child Care owner Robert Powell, who has been identified as Participant Number 1 in the bribery case of Luzerne County Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, contends that that he was a “victim of their demands for payment.”

From what I understand Powell has been singing to the Feds and even wore a wire to help bring them down. It sounds like like a classic case of someone getting pinched and turning informer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Case-fixing in Luzerne County?

Court arbitrators often not neutral, report claims

In addition to admitting taking bribes our past president Judge Conahan is being accused of stacking the deck in personal injury cases resulting in what one attorney called “outrageous awards."

A few years ago one of our local barristers told me he could predict the outcome of most civil actions just by knowing the names of the attorneys involved and what Judge would hear the case.

What else has been for sale in the courthouse?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kanjo says the world economy almost collapsed

From the Motley Fool:

Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski of Pennsylvania reveals some shocking information regarding a bank run which occured right here and indeed brought this country and the entire world economy to within three hours of complete and systemic financial collapse. In this video, Congressman Kanjorski reveals (at about the 2:15 mark) that the move to raise the move to guarantee money market funds up to $250,000 was an emergency measure to stave off a massive run on the banks that removed $550 billion from the system in a matter of just a couple of hours. Treasury then injected $105 billion to no avail, and shut the system down to prevent a panic continuation of this electronic bank run. By "their" [read Treasury's] estimation, had they not shut it down and issued the guarantee, money market withdrawls would have reached $5.5 trillion by two 'o'clock that afternoon!! He then indicates Treasury's assessment that the run not only would have destroyed the U.S. economy immediately, but would have collapsed the world economy within 24 hours.

Kanjorski: "The Treasury opened its window to help. They pumped a hundred and five billion dollars into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic and there. And that's what actually happened. If they had not done that their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed.""It would have been the end of our political system and our economic systems as we know it."

Rep. Kanjorski: $550 Billion Disappeared in "Electronic Run On the Banks"

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella admits he is a disgrace

He sent a letter to the papers defending his actions as the President Judge of Luzerne County, like if anyone cares. He's an admitted crook and every action he has taken deserves to be reviewed. The new President Judge Chet Muroski is doing his best to clean up this mess even agreeing to drop Ciavarella's lawsuit over staff reductions.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Ride the Bus from Pittsburgh to Washington

There has been rampant speculation that Steelers' great Franco Harris will run against Senator Arlen Specter in 2010. The last time a jock ran statewide he got clobbered. I think the difference is that Lynn Swann went from being a sideline reporter to candidate without paying his political dues. That and he had the the misfortune of running against a popular incumbent Governor. Harris appears on the football pregame shows but he has also been involved in Democratic party politics.

Harris was an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention and a campaign surrogate and I think that it would be a good bet that the President would campaign for him. He also helped raise money for Democratic candidates even attending a fundraiser in Williamsport for one of my favorite Congresscritters, Chris Carney, in his longshot campaign in 2006. BTW, Carney won with just a little help from Franco.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sam Guesto is worried about his job

And he should be.

TL: Guesto’s acquaintances say he is fearful he will be terminated. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Guesto was hired to the post in February 2008, after taxpayer predictions that the job was created for him. Guesto had resigned from his previous job as county chief clerk/administrator when it became apparent that Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Stephen A. Urban wouldn’t retain him.

Sam Guesto is credited with negotiating the the PA Child Care lease that sounds more like he was taking dictation. He ordered changes to the design of the new prison that will not be built for many years if ever because of the debt that the county had run up under the Bond Brothers and previous regimes. And he was in charge of the debit cards that were used in strip clubs and elaborate dinners with big booze bills. Guesto also twisted arms at the county prison he told county prison officials not to bid out items that were previously bid, telling the kitchen manager during a March 2006 meeting, “…do it or it’s your ass.”

The best outcome for Mr. Guesto is that he only be fired.

Prison Board change

The 2 Luzerne County Court appointed members of the Luzerne County Prison Board have been given their walking papers according to the CV:

The judges also announced Tuesday they’ll seek new candidates for the two court-appointed positions on the county prison board. The board consists of the three county commissioners, the warden and the two court appointees — Wister Yuhas and Robert Payne. Muroski said he had no specific complaint about Yuhas and Payne, who have presided over scandals involving the misuse of county-issued debit cards by prison personnel and a breach of county policy on bidding for food purchases.

The Warden is not a member of the prison board.

In the last few months (years?) Yuhas and Payne have teamed up with minority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak to defend Sam Hyder's world training travels and the no bid contracts that we will be hearing about again very soon. And much more nonsense.

Another reason to back Home Rule is that it could eliminate an anachronism like the prison board.

Muroski says he will clean house

Our new Luzerne County President Judge Chet Muroski has said he will review all the people hired by the 2 previous President Judges and accused criminals Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella. First he has to get a handle on who is actually employed by the courts which boggles my mind. “We don’t know who our employees are,” Muroski said. “We were not allowed to participate and nominate anyone for department head or supervisor positions. We didn’t even know what positions were available.”

Some of the people that should be worried are:

• Sam Guesto, specialty courts/alternative sentencing director, $78,160.

• Paul McGarry, who was promoted from probation services director to administrative services director, $78,160.

• Larry Saba, probation services director, $78,160.

• Don Tedesco, jury management supervisor, $45,652. Tedesco is Conahan’s brother-in-law.

• Jim Torbik, central court administrator, $60,100.

And many others.

If he follows through it will increase the unemployment rate in Luzerne County. I hate to see anyone lose their job but I'm sure that they will all land on their feet.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Luzerne County rumors

I take 2 days off from blogging and all hell brakes loose.

First off the rumor of Bill Sharkey was stealing the confiscated proceeds of video poker machines that are in just about every bar in the area turns out to be true. Sharkey is a long time employee of the courts who, until now, was most famous for engaging in that time honored local tradition of getting his relatives on the public payroll. His son works as juvenile probation officer as well as his daughter and his sister-in-law is in domestic relations. He's making $97,000 a year but still felt the need to embezzle $70,000 over the last 10 years. It's ironic that Governor Rendell announced today that he wants to legalize video poker machines to help pay for higher education.

I've heard it from enough reliable sources now to predict that Prothonotary Jill Moran will resign if she hasn't already. She is a business partner of the Juvie Brothers (Big Dan wins the contest) Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan and a law partner of Participant 1, Robert Powell. She even falsified a tax lien changing Powell's name to John Doe. At the time I wasn't sure if that was a crime but a few lawyer friends say it is and the Feds seem to agree.

This one caught me by surprise. Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said he did not try to commit suicide. He also denies that he took any payoffs when he and Todd Vonderheid approved a 20 year $58 million lease for PA Child Care. I hope that is true but Skrep and the other Bond Brother have some explaining to do.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hazleton Cargo Airport

“It is clear to me that all the questions need to be answered of the individuals surrounding the project. I’m going to suspend my support until all the questions are answered.” -House Majority Leader Todd Eachus of Hazleton

It's good to see Eachus finally question the motives of the people involved in this project. The rest of us smelled a rat right from the beginning. The same people that built the juvie jail in Pittston Twp. and were paying off the Judges wanted to find another way to profit at the public trough, as one local elected official explained, "it sounds like a plan to sell land using taxpayer money."

Wired for sound Participant number 1, Robert Powell, was until recently a principle in Gladstone Partners, the company that wants to build this fantasy airport. He sold his interest to his partner, Gregory Zappala in this company and PA Child Care. The word is that Powell is liquidating every asset he has and has experience moving money to the Caymen Islands.

Todd has been a staunch supporter of this piece of corporate welfare even sending out a newsletter to people in other districts promising 100,000 jobs would be created if the airport was built. He also inserted a $16.5 million authorization for the cargo airport in a House bill listing projects under the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund. The slots money is supposed to be used for reducing school taxes but it has to be hard for any politician not to think of a way to spend this big pot of gold on something else.

For more background see this site:

Hazleton's Cargo Airport

The Super Bowl

The Gort Household is pulling for the Stillers. And hoping for some funny commercials.

It will be hard to top the Bud lizards