Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Republicans to endorse today

The Luzerne County Republican Party make its endorsements based on the results of a county-wide poll of all committee people. Chairman Terry Casey said.“We want to conduct this endorsement process in an honest, open, fair and transparent way, just as we promise to govern in Luzerne County. Ours is a simple message: we want to restore honesty and integrity to the county courthouse and we’re starting by conducting an honest and open primary in our own party.”

I'm going to make some predictions. First the easy ones. There are only 2 Republicans running for the Court of Common Pleas, Dick Hughes and Michael Pendolphi, so that is a no brainer and Gina Nevenglosky is the only candidate for Register of Wills in the primary.

Carolee Medico Olenginski and Walter Mitchell are in the running for Prothonotary and I think that former Prothonotary Carolee will get the nod.

The hottest race shaping up seems to be for Controller. To get the nod a candidate has had to be a registered Republican since Feb. 16, 2008 so that rules out Edd Brominski. The contenders are Alice Coffman, Walter Griffith, Nanda Palissery and Bob Sypniewski. My reading of the tea leaves tells me that Nanda Palissery will be the anointed one.

You can read the POLIICIES & PROCEDURES FOR ENDORSEMENT if you are interested.

UPDATE: I got them all right.

As predicted Hughes and Pendolphi were backed for a seat on Court of the Common Pleas and Nevenglosky was backed in her uphill battle to be the next Register of Wills.

Former Prothonotary Carolee Medico-O got the nod over President for Life of the breakaway Republic of Bear Creek Village Walter Michell with a vote of 75 to 55. I still think that Carolee will sail through the primary and be returned to the Prothonotary's office in the fall.

The battle for the endorsement for County Controller was closer than I expected with Nanda Palissery edging out Walter Griffith 51-39.

I was stuck by how many Do Not Endorse votes were cast in each race.

Overall only 132 of the 272 Republican Committee people returned a ballot and they still don't have a full compliment in the county. Maybe I should run for Republican Committeeman in my little burgh because we don't have one.

What did I miss?

I took a few days off from blogging and will play catch-up for a bit. The long awaited 20/20 piece about the Juvie Brothers aired on ABC on Friday and we made the New York Times on Saturday. Another claim to fame for the area. It was just a matter of time before Luzerne County was named as a defendant in one of the lawsuits and new President Judge Chet Muroski wants former judge Mark Ciavarella’s seat placed on the May 19 primary election ballot.

Acting Controller A. J. Martinelli made some news when he was accepted into the ARD program after his spectacular performance when he got popped for DUI in January. No word on if he will required to wear a belt. And in the latest misuse of county funds to come to light Martinelli was the benefits coordinator when 2 unpaid members of the prison board were given health coverage. He claims he can't remember the details of the applications.

And the price of smokes is going up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

YouTube weekend

Busy, busy, busy

The blog has taken a back seat this last week because of other things I have to do. Same for next week.

Jeff Beck will be at the Scranton Cultural Center Monday April 6. We got our tickets, I hope you have yours. Drop me a line if you are going.

Jeff Beck - Blue Wind

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lokuta gets a break

HARRISBURG – The state Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a stay of the Court of Judicial Discipline’s ruling that removed judge Ann Lokuta from office and directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth not to place her judicial seat on the May ballot.

Lokuta has contended all along that charges against her were orchestrated by admitted crook Judge Michael Conahan with the help of the other Juvie Brother Mark Ciavarella and Conahan's cousin Bill Sharkey because she was cooperating with the Federal corruption probe. Throw in the involvement of his business partners Jill Moran, Richard Sprague and Patrick Judge in this seemed to convice the state Supreme Court stay her removal from the bench because of after-discovered evidence that was revealed as part of the corruption probe in the county judiciary. The Supremes ordered the Court of Judicial Discipline to determine whether it should reconsider it's decision to remove her and grant a new hearing.

This throws a monkey wrench into the campaigns of the 17 Judicial hopefuls because now there will be only 2 seats up for grabs instead of 3.

Timeline from the CV:

April 2004: A complaint from a former Lokuta staffer leads to an investigation by the state Judicial Conduct Board.

April 2005: The Conduct Board formally informs Lokuta of its investigation.

November 2006: Lokuta is charged with six counts of misconduct by the state Judicial Conduct Board. She is accused of being abusive to court staff and attorneys and late or absent for court proceedings.

September 2007-January 2008: Lokuta is tried before a three-judge panel from the state Court of Judicial Discipline. Lokuta testifies she is the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by former president judge Michael T. Conahan, who was angered because she talked to federal investigators about his handling of case assignments. Conahan used his position to influence other prosecution witnesses, she testifies.

Oct. 30, 2008: The Court of Judicial Discipline finds Lokuta guilty.

Nov. 5, 2008: The court suspends Lokuta without pay.

Dec. 9, 2008: Lokuta is officially removed from the bench.

Jan. 6, 2009: Lokuta appeals to the state Supreme Court.

Jan. 26, 2009: Conahan and fellow judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., who also testified against Lokuta, are charged with accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks. They eventually plead guilty and are relieved of judicial duties.

Feb. 3, 2009: Another witness against Lokuta, county court administrator William T. Sharkey Sr., is charged with embezzling $70,000 in court funds. He eventually pleads guilty.

March 3, 2009: Lokuta asks the state Supreme Court to postpone an election to fill her seat.

March 25, 2009: The Supreme Court cancels the election and orders the Court of Judicial Discipline to consider holding a hearing on whether evidence of courthouse corruption involving prosecution witnesses would have affected the outcome of Lokuta’s trial.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ciavarella wants his pension

And you thought that the AIG bonuses were outrageous. According to the story in the CV by Dave Janoski former Luzerne County President judge Mark Ciavarella may be able to collect $6800 a month until he is sentenced for taking bribes for sending kids to the PA Child Care facility in Pittston Twp. The other juvie brother Michael Conahan has been pulling in $8073 a month since he retired in January 2008 and was even able to cash out part of his pension ($300,00) before the shit hit the fan. Both have plead guilty in the probe and will serve 87 months in prison if Federal Judge Edwin Kosik agrees to their plea agreement. Kosik could reject the agreement and this could drag out for a long time.

In other juvie brother news Participant 2, multi-party Bob Mericle, has hired some big legal guns to defend himself in 2 of the class action suits. Although he does not face criminal charges, Mericle and his company have much at stake in the civil-rights claims filed by more than 175 former defendants in the county’s juvenile court. The suits seek millions in damages from Mericle, the judges, and other individuals and companies implicated in the federal case on the grounds that the juveniles were wrongly imprisoned and denied legal representation.

Home Rule forum tonight

In preparation for the public question on the Home Rule Government Study Commission in May, we will be hosting weekly educational forums. This will provide citizens an opportunity to learn more about Home Rule and how it can affect the county as well as an opportunity to meet the candidates for the Government Study Commission.

The first of these weekly forums will be held March 25th at 6:30 PM in the Luzerne County Community College Conference Center.

Dems vote for open primary

The Luzerne County Democratic Party decided to leave it up to the voters in the races for Judge and Prothontary. I think that is a good call with 15 Dems wanting to wear the black robes and 3 candidates in the running for Prothonotary. Chairman Mark Bufalino wants to avoid some of the acrimony that endorsements or lack of them have caused in the past.

Republican Chairman Terry Casey said the Republican Executive Committee has abandoned it's plan to endorse county candidates in the primary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walter has a Website

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..
He lays out an Action Plan for the office.
Including a Pledge to be a “Full Time” Controller, place all County Audits online and to provide that all County Audits are done by Bid and all Bid’s submitted will be solicited from outside Luzerne County.
He also has a picture of Tim Grier speaking before the Wilkes-Barre city council posted which I asked him about; I placed this picture to emphasize the people that are taxpayer advocates as well as to show I was a part of the fight at City Hall. I think a lot of people respect Tim as well as him being a good friend of mine...
Walter is also running for the Government Study Commission.
The other Republican candidates for the controller nomination are : Edward Brominski, Swoyersville; Alice B. Coffman, Sugarloaf Township; Nanda Palissery, Dallas; and Robert Sypniewski, Dallas. The winner will face the lone Democratic contender, Bob Morgan, of Mountain Top.
None of the other candidates have website up yet as far as I know.
Update: Griffith attended the Salary Board meeting today and sent along this recap.
I represented the taxpayers today at the County Salary Board Meeting regarding the approval of all the court employee's salaries.
The Meeting opened with the public comment section of the agenda and I asked Chairperson Petrilla why the agenda and salaries are not made available long before 5 minutes before the meeting so the people can review the salaries and the creation of new positions. The people need to have sufficient time to read the agenda and the salaries to be able to be sufficiently educated to ask questions if we are going to move forward with an open and efficient government.
The agenda had the roster of the Salary Board as Urban, Pettrilla, Skrepenak, Martinelli and President Judge Muroski, however the President Judge was not at the meeting but his "Right hand Man" Mullroy was there in his place. I immediately spoke to object to this because the County Code stated the President Judge must be there not his designee as the County tried to do this time . I was successful in having the Court Tipstaff have the President Judge come to the meeting because he was summoned there by the Salary Board. I made this the first time the President Judge was actually a part of the process as prescribed by law...
I then raised the issue as to why AJ Martinelli was on the Salary Board when he is not the County Controller. I was told by Commissioner Petrilla that AJ is the Controller because the Governor issued a letter stating he was appointed by him as the Acting Controller. AJ Martinelli is not the Controller and has no place on the Salary Board.
There is supposed to be a salary freeze on the County Budget however in the enclosed documents you will see the County Courts are able to create new positions and fund them quite well.. Seems like a double standard..I will not allow this as the next County Controller..I will not vote to increase the payroll by increasing the staff..
I have enclosed the Exhibits of all the personnel at the Court system as well as the Agenda for your review and if there are any questions...please feel free to ask ..also note that there was no other candidates for Controller at the meeting...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Incestuous criminal cauldron

That is probably a better name than Juvie Brothers or Cash for Kids to describe what has been going on in Luzerne County for years. Everybody who is anybody is connected in the courthouse, statehouse, city hall or a local school board be it by a relative, high/law school pal or just did it the old fashion way by giving a campaign contribution.

The headline comes from Judge Ann Lokuta's latest filing in her appeal to the PA Supreme Court regarding her removal from the bench because she was occasionally late for work, sometimes didn't take a shower and was rude to people. By that standard I think many of us might be out of work.

When you look at the cast of crooks that wanted to get rid of Lokuta because she contends that she was cooperating with the investigation I think that at the least she deserves a new hearing. Remember that she was not convicted of doing anything illegal and her chief accusers are admitted criminals led by Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, Conahan's cousin Bill Sharkey who is headed to jail for being a thief and "poor, poor pitiful me" disgraced former Prothonotary Jill Moran. One of the people that sat in judgement of her was Richard Sprague who was a lawyer for Robert Powell who was one of the people paying off the Judges. Powell is a law partner and business partner of Jill Moran. Powell, Moran, Conahan and Ciavarella are also business partners.

It doesn't begin or end with this case as we all know the only way to get a job in local government is to know somebody or pay them off with a campaign contribution. Just about every School District in the country is screaming for teachers but around here you better have a relative on the board or they won't even look at you. And we always lament why our educated young people keep moving away.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chris Hackett is against earmarks

My friend Chis Hackett had a letter to the editor (LTE) published in the Times-Leader today. Just to refresh your memory Hackett was the runner up in the recent (2008) 10th Congressional District election losing to Democratic Freshman Chris Carney in what some people say is an overwhelmingly Republican District. I beg to differ on that. Even the people out in Honesdale, Sunbury and Carbondale saw the light. Carney did a good job in his first 2 years and we have a habit of reelecting incumbents unless they do something stupid like strangling their mistress.
I'll will always be grateful to Chris Hackett for giving me an interview after he announced he was running for Congress. I also requested one with Meuser but his people kept jerking me around. I think Hackett's downfall was his reluctance to give me another interview as we approached the General Election. Just goes to show that you that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
Some people give me the credit (blame) for the split in Republican party after the hard fought primary between Hackett and Dan Meuser because of the often spirited exchanges that went on in the comments on Gort42. I'm too modest to take credit for that.
Like most Americans, I want our president to be successful in leading our country. While it is unrealistic to believe that we would all agree on most or even many policy directions, I think it important that we maintain an open mind and focus on the possibilities that lie ahead.
During the recent presidential campaign, as a country, we chose “change.” And make no mistake, I agree our country needs change in how Washington, D.C., functions. As I listened closely to the various campaign promises, I hoped that John McCain or Barack Obama would do what they said while trying to win our votes and focus the actions of the government on serving the people, not the special interests.
But as we’ve seen in the past, words are easy; actions take courage and conviction. And rarely is the easy action or decision the right path. Further, accountability is a bedrock principle of our nation; and I firmly believe we need to hold politicians accountable. When they make a campaign promise or pledge, we must demand they stand by it.
President Obama said during the campaign: “Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.” This promise was made when he was debating Sen. McCain, who has a long and consistent record of not requesting earmarks. Candidate Obama told us he would take this fiscally conservative approach, which is very unpopular with the special interest groups that permeate our nation’s capital.
This would require him to stand up to the House and Senate leadership by saying: It’s not going to be business as usual. If you send me that $410 billion spending bill, I will veto it and I will bring light and attention to those who brazenly requested these outrageous pet projects.
He could use his great communication skills in this way to further the cause of accountable and legitimate government spending.
But sadly, instead, he has chosen the easy path, one that uses the same tired game of blaming prior administrations. President Obama says this spending bill is the last administration’s business, therefore his campaign promises don’t apply. “I’ll submit an earmarks-free budget next year.” What a complete cop-out and an example of why most Americans find it difficult to believe anything a politician says.
Remember, President Obama, we signed on for change in Washington, not more political double speak. We need to fix our system now. We can’t afford (and I do mean afford) any more wasteful spending or political word twisting.
Change is hard; but it is far better to make these changes now while we can decide, rather than having the decisions made for us when the Chinese or sovereign oil nations stop buying our Treasury bonds to finance these expenditures, and our “financial diet” is forced upon us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Petition challenge

I'm surprised there are not more. Past wannabe Commissioner Bill James made some objections to wannabe Prothonotary Walter Mitchell's nominating petitions and financial disclosure forms.

Bill claims he has altruistic motives

“Things brought questions into my mind, and I just had to step forward.”

James has pointed out some problems with Mitchell's paperwork including an incomplete financial disclosure.

Mitchell did not give complete financial disclosure because he cites as sources of income “various insurance companies” but does not give any names or addresses. It also states that Mitchell’s signature only appears on one of the 20 separate nominating petitions he filed, and that he fails to give the name of the office he seeks. James is asking for eight of the 20 petitions to be invalidated because Mitchell does not list the electoral district on them, the document states. As a result, Mitchell would only have 233 signatures, falling short of the required 250.

It looks like Bill James is backing Carolee Medico in her quest to recapture the office. I think Carolee wins the Republican primary going away and will probably cruise to victory in the fall so this challenge may be unnecessary. According to the TL Lance Strange from Lackawanna County is the point man for Mitchell's camp and thinks this is a desperate tactic.

"We are not going to speculate to exactly who is behind the challenge,” Stange said, adding Mitchell’s campaign “will be moving forward with a vigorous defense.”
In the end, Mitchell will be on the ballot and win the upcoming election, Stange said.

W-B Area School Director candidate Christine Katsock is challenging James Susek right to be on the ballot. Katsock states Susek did not file a required statement of financial interest before the March 10 deadline. If Christine keeps running for office she may eventually get elected to something.

The best petition challenger around for the last few years has been Republican Liz Sichler but her title search company Priority Search Inc. has seemed to have adopted the same business practices as Bernie Madoff. So she is unavailable for comment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG bonuses

Just about everybody is outraged by insurance giant AIG plans to pay bonuses. Congressman Chris Carney and Paul Kanjorski have put out strong statements on the subject. The company argues that they are just honoring contracts and need to retain the talent that helped run the company into the ground. It's an open question whether or not the government can stop this madness.

I think Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley speaks for many of us:

"But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide."

Stephen Colbert is calling out the pitchforks.

via videosift.com

Kanjo will be all over the telly talking about this tomorrow.

CNBC, Squawk Box
7:45 a.m.
Bloomberg TV
8:00 a.m.
MSNBC, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
6:00 p.m.


Another holiday guest post from the chairman of the flat earth society.

A Special Message by Mean Old Man

Why is it that every March 17th I have to be subjected to the dimwit subversive Irish culture that comes in the name of St. Patrick’s Day?!?!!!
As far as I’m concerned, the only damned thing that the holiday is about is amateurs going out and getting stewed on booze (and no doubt, nowadays, drugs too). And everyone is supposed to dress in green and go through this stupid ritual acting as if it is something that happens just once a year. It doesn’t----and if you don’t believe me take a stroll down to the VFW on any given night and you’ll see a load of drunks (but at least they served their country, not like the prissy yuppies of today).

I wouldn’t even consider taking the trusty Desoto out on the road that day as all the stupid alcoholics-in-training are out driving. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret my column as being against drinking. I’m just against the dum dums that do it once a year!! Everybody knows that people who don't drink a lot can't drive a car when they do get drunk, like us professionals can.

I don't know how it is in your family, but last St. Patrick's Day my stupid son Harlan and his loose wife Cindy brought my spoiled rotten granddaughter over to the house to show us how "cute" she was all dressed up as a leprechaun. She even had a plastic "pot of gold" , no doubt manufactured in some third world country for the sole intent of having my hard earned money dropped into it. "Didn't I just do this last Halloween?", I asked them all. Why is it that every holiday always comes down to money anyway? Damn!!!

I remember one St. Patrick's Day when some preppie Foster Brooks wannabees made the mistake of opening the door to the VFW. OF course, every real drinker knows that you don't walk into a sacred VFW club without a membership; only the air headed amateurs would dare try to. SO, these stupid prissy yuppies walk right on up to the bar where me and my friends Gummo and Slant Eyes are sitting and order up three Miller Lite's. The whole club went silent. The last time someone ordered a lite beer in our club was when my stupid brother in law's "friend" Hal did so (and might I add, it was his last time in our club). Pickles, the bartender looked these losers straight in their eyes and asked them what branch of the service they served in. Their jaws dropped and they looked like the deer I had in my headlights last Summer. It's not that ol' Pickles has an intimidating voice, it's just that it is a bit more intimidating as he's swinging a Louisville slugger while using it. Needless to say the three stooges ran out of the club faster than Leon Spinks from a dentist's office. I remember Slant Eyes saying that if those chumps ever did wear a uniform it was probably issued by the 4-H club or some Commie organization like it. We all had a good laugh and spent the rest of the night cursing St. Patrick and singing Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer. That was a good St. Paddy's day.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Irish; most of them can hold their liquor and fight at the drop of a hat--but let's be realistic; none of them is every going to win a spelling bee (if you know what I mean). When I was in the Army back in WWII, we had a Irishman in our outfit, Red O'Dea. Red was real Irish, not like the dainty put on artists of today. I remember once during our basic training all of us guys went to a bar for a toot and Red opened up each of our bottles of beer with his teeth!! I'll never forget the sight of his bloodied mouth as we chugged down our Ballentine's. He was laughing up a storm, and not only the sight, but the odor of the mixing of his blood and beer was pretty nauseating. It didn't seem to bother Red at all (remember what I said about the spelling bee). Good ol' Red, he survived Guadalcanal, and ended up dying stateside when he got run over by a trolley car in San Francisco. He was stewed, of course; I miss him a lot.

So, all you prissie Irish wannabees enjoy your St. Paddy's Day. Have one on me. For that matter, stop down at the local VFW, ol' Pickles has a present for you all!!! As for me, I'll be sitting by the ol' tv'er, popping open a bottle of Steg, lighting up another Lucky, and listening to the soothing sounds of Bing Crosby (maybe I'll even play his version of When Irish Eyes are Smiling).

Happy St. Paddy's Day!! I hate you all!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quincy dug his first hole

OK Auntie, More pictures of the dog.
On my Facebook page

Change of venue

I have just been informed that Ground Round near the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre closed it's doors last Friday. So we will have to meet at another location. The fallback is Marks Pub 1287 N Washington St, Wilkes-Barre (map it). I tried for another place but the owner told me that we can't have a room because it's St. Paddy's Day. Bad timing. If the music is too loud we can decamp to another spot.

Idiot watch

What's the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge. -Anon

This first day jury duty has my biological clock all out of whack. I wasn't called for a case and wouldn't tell you even if I did. The place seemed to be at a standstill awaiting the jury decision on whether Harlow Cuadra should die or spend the rest of his life in prison. They came up with life in prison, after the jury of eight men and four women could not reach a unanimous decision.

In another high profile case former state Sen. Vincent Fumo was found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Pennsylvania Senate a nonprofit and a museum of more than $3.5 million, and destroying e-mail evidence.

The case almost blew up because one of the jurors was a Twit.

From Capitol Ideas

Too Much Information Dept.

Reminding us that just because you can use Twitter and Facebook, doesn't necessarily mean you should -- we bring you to the ongoing corruption trial of state Sen. Vince Fumo.There, we find Fumo's defense team filing an emergency motion to halt jury deliberations after it was revealed that one juror was POSTING UPDATES about the trial on his Facebook profile.

The latest bombshell from Juror No. 5, Eric Wuest of Collegeville, Montgomery County, was this one: "STAY TUNED for a big announcement on Monday everyone!"We're guessing it now probably rhymes with "Schmistrial."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blogger call

Tuesday at the Ground Round near the Mall at 5:30PM. Planning for the candidates happy hour will be discussed.

Jury Duty

I have Jury Duty starting tomorrow. My attorney friends tell me that this is for criminal cases. The last time I had Jury Duty I got picked for a civil trial that was settled before we got to hear the case. The Judge was Mark Ciavarella who came out and told us how valuable we were to the process. I was was impressed by that. Shows you how much I know.
I oppose the death penalty for the most part but I could agree to stringing up a public official who used their office for financial gain. See you on the Public Square.

Lawyers, Judges and money

The problem is not that Judges take money from lawyers before they are elected. The problem is they take money from lawyers after they are elected.

The Times-Leader today has a rundown of all the local barristers who gave money to the election or retention campaigns of the Juvie Brothers. It reads like the yellow pages when you look up an attorney. Just about everybody who practices law in Luzerne County kicked in a few bucks to Michael Conahan and Mark Ciaverlla, some of them gave very big bucks.
A clip of the scissors to Wilkes-Barre Online for the image above.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who's running for what?-Mayor of Kingston

The TL has some announcements.

Jim Haggerty is running for reelection saying "The future of our community is as bright as ever.” He will probably cruise to another term in the job that he has held since 1998. He has basics down, the trash is picked up on time and the streets are plowed when it snows. The police force is professionally run and he has partnered with Edwardsville to provide better fire protection and ambulance service.

Haggerty is also running for the Luzerne County Government Study Commission. He told me that he can contribute to the study because he is the Mayor of a home rule municipality and would bring the nuts and bolts experience of governing to the formation of the new charter. He also predicted that Home Rule would win this time.

Mayor Jim has 2 opponents in the GOP primary, Jeanne Shuella and John Cordora. I don't know anything about Shuella but Cordora rings a bell. He said the centerpiece of his campaign will be the lack of crime prevention in Kingston. “I have a common sense, aggressive plan to reduce crime in Kingston and I only want one term as mayor to prove it.” If someone can figure out how to prevent crime they should patent the process and sell it.

Cordora ran for State Rep against Phyllis Mundy in 2006 and got trounced. Then his "centerpiece" was his opposition to gay marriage and the pay raise. For most of the campaign he was the invisible man and when he did raise his head he attacked Mundy for supporting "abortion on demand, higher taxes, gay marriage and all the other liberal garbage." I think he listens to too much talk radio. After the election he blamed his loss on Lynette Villano and the dysfunctional Luzerne County Republican Party.

There are 2 Democrats running for Mayor of Kingston, Curt Piazza and Stephen Radinski.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jill Moran resigns

This is Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran last day on the job. . The TL reports she spent yesterday barracaded in her office saying goodbye to colleagues. It may be the most time she spent in the office over the last 7 years because she had other things to do like building houses in Mountaintop that never actually got built.
She is a law partner of PA Child Care owner Robert Powell who has been paying off the Juvie Brothers to send kids to his private for profit juvenile jail in Pittston Twp. Powell, Moran, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are investers/partners in W-Cat Inc . that has defaulted on loans to a bank run by Conahan and Louis DeNaples. There are other investors in the project that are not part of any of illegal activities and they got screwed. She protected Powell by altering an IRS tax lien in the county database to read John Doe. I could go on and on.
She claims that some people allegedly attempted, without Moran’s "full knowledge and consent, to use Moran to facilitate frauds.”
I don't buy it.
Deputy Prothonotary Elizabeth Decker will run the office until the winner of the election takes office next January. 2 Republicans and 3 Democrats are running to replace her.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Et tu, Toole

Zen is reporting that another Luzerne County Judge may be in hot water.

The Legal Intelligencer says Federal authorities are looking at Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Michael Toole in today's edition. I don't have a subscription (yet) but you can read the whole article at Sights on Pennsylvania.

A few days ago the CV revealed that Toole refused to rule on subpoenas issued by then Controller Steve Flood when he was looking into the county contract with PA Child Care in 2005. Toole could have ruled against the subpoenas, but that would have given Flood a chance to appeal to get the subpoenas enforced. Toole was also a guest at the Juvie Brothers Florida condo least once and also ruled on a dispute involving Participant one's, Robert Powell, yacht. Why a PA Judge would be ruling on a dispute in Florida is a good question.

NEPA earmarks

Congressmen Chris Carney and Paul Kanjorski made sure that our area made out well in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act in addition to stimulus money that will be coming down the pipe.

Carney's new Director of Communications Vince Rongione sent out a couple of press releases detailing the $4.5 million he secured for local projects including $1 million for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Stourbridge Line railroad in Honesdale and the Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock will also see some needed funds. Money is also headed to Jermyn, Factoryville, Lackawaxen, Milford and Pike County for various projects.

Kanjo's office teamed up with Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey to put out a triple headed press release that I got from his Press Secretary Abigail McDonough that details $13 million of federal spending that is headed our way. The biggest chunk is for flood control projects in Scranton ($4.5m) and Wyoming Valley ($1.2m). Wilkes-Barre is a big winner with almost $1 million to fix up Coal Street Park and $700,000 for law enforcement including all those creepy surveillance cameras. There is also a rapid fire list of $95,000 grants to local hospitals/health care providers.

This one I really like. Kings College gets $181,000 to move WRKC's transmitter from the top of Holy Cross Hall in W-B to Penobscot Mountain to expand the broadcast area. This has to be good news to Father Tom of Things at King's who has been doing The Radio Home Visitor for as long as I can remember. Now more blind people can hear what the newspapers have to say. My favorite Republican talk show host on WILK, Sue Henry, also has a music show on the weekends on WRKC that I enjoy. I would like to hear what she thinks of this piece of pork.

Senator Specter is

Rising above partisanship

Sixty-four years ago, Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg (R., Mich.) famously declared that in matters of foreign policy, "politics stops at the water's edge." His post-isolationist Senate career stands as a monument to the benefits of bipartisanship - an approach that endured through the Cold War and beyond.

Today we stand not "at the water's edge," but we are staring over the edge of the economic cliff. What we are experiencing is so painful and dangerous that we must dampen, if not remove, partisanship for the common purpose of saving the nation.

The debate in Congress over the economic stimulus was only a foretaste. Health care, national security, education, and energy, including global warming, are issues that will require cooperation and compromise.

Genuine bipartisanship is more than inviting Republicans to the White House or the president addressing GOP caucuses on Capitol Hill. Republicans must do more than ritually invoke fiscal conservatism. Rather, we must apply our principles of fiscal conservatism to the times. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "There are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises."

The challenges we face are not subject to rigid formulaic solutions, whether defined as fiscal conservatism or Keynesian economics. Nor should they be subject to hasty and ill-defined solutions, as happened with the TARP bailout, passed under duress and the threat of an imminent banking collapse. The December auto bailout faced similar pressures for haste.

Genuine bipartisanship requires early consultation involving Republicans in structuring legislation - something that was noticeably absent in preparing the economic stimulus package. In the words of an old Washington maxim: "If you want legislators in on the landing, it is necessary to have them in on the takeoff."

Bipartisanship would also benefit from following regular legislative order.

The $700 billion 451-page TARP bill was passed with no time to study, no meaningful hearings, no committee markup or committee report, no floor debate and no time to offer amendments, including provisions for oversight. The stimulus bill was also enacted in great haste with little time for regular order. Is it any wonder that the public is angry? The majority party has an obligation to see that regular order is followed.

According to recent polls, the public gives President Obama high marks for his efforts at bipartisanship while faulting Republicans on the same score. As a Republican in loyal opposition, I believe the party's road to relevance lies in applying our party's philosophy adapted to the times and tempered by a willingness to seek areas where agreement is possible.

Fiscal discipline and a preference for small government are always relevant in spending taxpayer money. Republicans need to make sure these principles are part of the upcoming debates and the massive spending bills that the president and the Democrats will be proposing in health care, education, and energy. Democrats need to make sure Republicans are involved in developing and guiding the legislation though the process.

Many Republican governors put aside philosophical objections to accept the benefits in the stimulus bill. Their actions, like mine, pose political risks, but as John F. Kennedy said, "Sometimes party loyalty asks too much." It is not too much to suggest that in this time of economic distress, both parties work together for the common good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I said I wasn't going to comment much on the the Luzerne County race for Judge unless something unusual happened. Then something unusual did happen

I just got an automated phone survey from this number in Washington 202-747-7306. I tried a reverse look up but came up empty. The voice asked me to push a button on what was the important issues in the Luzerne County Judicial races like crime, etc. But the last 2 questions seemed like a shot at Joe Musto. Would you vote for a younger or older candidate? And would you be more or less inclined to vote for a candidate that would be too old to finish his term?

Not exactly a push poll since no names were used and I think this mandatory retirement age of 70 for Judges is bogus anyway but somebody is planning to use it as an issue.

Bob Sypniewski for Controller

From a press release.


Bob Sypniewski will announced that he is seeking the Republican nomination for Controller in Luzerne County on Saturday March 14th at the Republican Headquarters on Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. The announcement will be at 11:00 am and doors will open at 10:30am.

Bob has been self-employed as a Mortgage Consultant for the past 10 years in the Back Mountain and is the CEO of 5:19 Investments, LLC a company dedicated to raising joint venture capital for various business projects throughout the state. Bob says his recent service on the Luzerne County Assessment Appeals Board was a major factor in his decision to run for controller. Sypniewski explained "As I helped people through the appeals process, I saw the harm government can inflict on it's citizens when it is poorly run. As a life-long resident of Luzerne County, I decided that I could no longer simply sit back and watch a steady stream of politicians put their own self interest above the interests of the people they were chosen to represent".

Bob - the 15th of Wilkes-Barre Police Officer Stanley and Blanche Sypniewski's 16 children, Bob was born and raised in the Heights. After graduating from GAR Memorial High School, Bob attended Luzerne County Community College where he majored in Human Services.

Bob currently serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Family Coalition and is an active member of Cross Creek Community Church in Trucksville. Other memberships include the PA Association of Mortgage Brokers and the Better Business Bureau. In 2008 Bob served as the Chairman of the Friends of James May Committee. He lives in Dallas with his wife of 11 years, Tara Harteis and their children: Christian 9, Ethan 7, and Gavin 5.

Who's running for what?- Plains Township and Wilkes-Barre Area School Board

I will bore you with occasional posts about 2 local elections because I live in the jurisdictions.

6 Democrats are running for the 2 Plains Twp Commissioner seats up this year. Incumbents Rose Corcoran and Joe Hoinski will be facing off against Steve Wachilla, Jerry Yozwiak, Robert Sax and John Bonita. I think the hot issue is why did the Commissioners slip $1 million of the slots money back to Mohegan Sun. We are supposed to be making money off the place not subsidizing it.

Wilkes-Barre Area School District has 4 seats up for grabs. Incumbents Lynn Evans and Jim Height will be competing with Robert M. Corcoran; Michael Desiderio; Harry Haas; Christine Katsock; Phillip B. Latinski; Thomas F. Malloy; James F. Susek.

Who's running for what?- Controller, Prothonotary and Government Study Commission

More to come on these races in the coming days as I have already written about them. They will be the focus of my primary coverage.

Past prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski and Bear Creek resident Walter Mitchell will vie for the Republican prothonotary nomination.

Five candidates filed for the Republican controller nomination: Edward Brominski, Swoyersville; Alice B. Coffman, Sugarloaf Township; Walter Griffith, Wilkes-Barre; Nanda Palissery, Dallas; and Robert Sypniewski, Dallas. The winner will face the lone Democratic contender, Bob Morgan, of Mountain Top.

Study commission contenders are: John Adonizio, Hughestown; Veronica Ciaruffoli, Larksville; Frank E.P. Conyngham, Kingston Township; Darlene Duggins, Wilkes-Barre; James Thomas Gaughan, Courtdale; Walter Griffith Jr., Wilkes-Barre; Ray Gustave, Swoyersville; Jim Haggerty, Kingston; Richard “Kick” Heffron, Dallas; Christopher C.J. Kersey, Kingston; Paul P. Krombel, Conyngham Township; Charmaine H. Maynard, Sugarloaf Township; Rick Morelli, Sugarloaf Township; Jeffrey Niemiec, Wilkes-Barre; Jack Schumacher, Kingston; Frank Sindaco, Wilkes-Barre; Phillip Struzzeri, Jenkins Township; Edward Transue, Dallas; Robert Whammer Wanyo, Forty Fort; and Joe Wizda, Freeland.

Lists from the TL.

Update: I forgot to list the Democratic candidates for Prothonotary. They are Alfred Akulonis Jr. of Duryea; Nancy McGinley Bellas of Kingston; and Gerald J. Mullery of Newport Township.

Who's running for what?- Register of Wills

Incumbent Dottie Stankovic is looking to win her fifth term and has stepped on the toes of the local Democratic party leadership, they even ran a challenger against her in the last primary. But her legion of polka fans came out for her and she won easily. The Republicans didn't even put up a token candidate in 2005 but they have one this time around . Gina Nevenglosky ran for Treasurer in 2005 and is an avid deer hunter who proposed requiring licenses for cats.

Congratulations to both ladies on their upcoming nominations. We will check back with you in the fall.

Who's running for what?- Jury Commissioner

Our next Jury Commissioners have been decided since there is one from each party and only one candidate has filed on each side. Long time host of almost every Democratic fundraiser ("because he had the best prices") for years at the Carriage Stop Inn, Jerry Bonner, is the only Dem to file for the office. The Carriage Stop burned down a few years ago after closing early on St. Patrick's Day. Jerry recently had a $100 a pop fundraiser to fund his reelection bid, no word on the turnout. The lone Republican is Frank Semanski.

Congratulations gentleman on your impending reelection. Why we need a Jury Commissioner is another question and that will hopefully be rectified by the new Home Rule charter.

Who's running for what?- Judges

With so many county and local offices up for election this year I have to decide which ones to concentrate on. Since the Judge candidates have to run on their resumes and can't comment on current issues I will defer to my colleagues unless something crazy happens. The Lu Lac Political Letter has a roundup of the 17 hopefuls who think that they will look good in black. We will be picking 2 or 3 new jurists depending what happens with Ann Lokuta's appeal. With so many Pittston attorneys in the fray PittstonPolitics.com will also be keeping us updated. Joe Valenti also goes to too many school board meetings and keeps us informed of the races for the boards in the greater Pittston area along with the contests for Mayor and council in the home of the tomato fest.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Rematch

Former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey is again taking on Senator Arlen Specter in the Republican primary in 2010. This time it looks like Peg Luksik may also get into the fray along with a few other people . I voted for Peg a few years ago when she ran for governor. A multi-candidate GOP primary has to be good news to Arlen and is music to this blogger's ears. I hope that Specter hangs around forever because he drives my Republican friends nuts. He is an almost extinct species, a Rockefeller Republican. The question of who Rick Santorum will back in this race has the gang over at GrassrootsPA twisting in their knickers.

Juvie Brothers update

Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella gave an interview to the UK newspaper the Guardian and claimed the bribes he got from PA Child Care owner Robert Powell and builder of the facility Robert Mericle were "finder's fee" from the private company for help in building the detention centre. He denies sending children to custody in return for kickbacks. "Cash for kids? It never happened. People have jumped to conclusions - I didn't do any of these things." That's a creative use of language. It sounds like a meter was keeping track of the kids he locked up and putting a cash value on them. Not to mention that Judges are not supposed to be in the business of helping anyone build anything financed by the taxpayers.

This thing is calling into question many cases that Ciavarella or Judge Michael Conahan have ever presided over. A reasonable question to ask if they were taking bribes to lock up kids what else was for sale? Conahan vacated a jury verdict in the case of a Tunkhannock physician that found in his favor and awarded the plaintiff $1 million. I didn't know that a Judge could reverse a jury. The Citizen Voice is contending that a $3.5 million defamation verdict issued by suspended Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. in June 2006 against The Scranton Times L.P., a related company called The Times Partner and former Citizens’ Voice reporter Edward Lewis was fixed. I have other examples but you get the idea.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Star of the show

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta was the headliner at Thursday night's Lincoln Day/Meet the Candidates Event at the GOP HQ in Wilkes-Barre and they loved him. Most Republican outfits around the country do a Lincoln Day event on his birthday in February but we have always been behind the times. America's Mayor got a standing O when he was introduced and after he got done telling our local elephants that the term conservative has become a pejorative much like the term liberal has been trashed by the likes of Rush and his ilk. I don't buy it but Republicans need to maintain their perceived victimhood at the hands of the MSM.

You can read his whole speech on the google doc I created.

Barletta said the party doesn't have to adapt to the times but just has to get back to it's conservative roots.

"Some Republicans believe the key to our future lies by moderating. With all due respect, those who believe that could not be more wrong. Throughout history, the Republican Party achieved greatness when we embraced conservatism and presented a clear, unified vision to the American people.”

And of course he invoked Saint Ronny.

Ronald Reagan won two presidential elections in convincing fashion. He offered something new, something fresh. The man who spoke about America as a “city upon a hill” also challenged his party. He suggested compromise on issues, but not on basic principles. He spoke from his heart. And he led from the front.

He threw out some red meat for the faithful by mentioning Moveon.org and bogeymen Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's plan to turn the USA into a one party state.

Make no mistake about it, There are factions of the Democratic Party that want to destroy the Republican Party. Others, including groups like MoveOn.org spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create slick ad campaigns to bash conservative thought and promote liberal thinking. For now, though, Democrats are content to make our party politically ineffective.
They're happy to create a one-party system where Democrats set the direction - draft the legislation – stifle opposing points of view- and pass the laws they want.
And they're well on their way to doing just that.

On the recent stimulus bill he trashed the way it was passed and I agree with him on that. I get nervous whenever the government does something in a hurry. See the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act and we had to invade Iraq before they lobbed nerve gas into New Jersey not that anyone would notice and it might improve the smell.

It's frightening to think that our elected leaders voted to spend almost 1 trillion dollars without knowing exactly what they voted for.

He also lobbed out some more inaccurate red meat GOP talking points that has been debunked.

The stimulus allows for so-called discretionary spending, which will fund pet projects like Nancy Pelosi's 30 million dollar mouse habitat, Harry Reid's multi-billion-dollar high speed rail line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and 2 billion dollars for a new power plant for Dick Durbin.

Democrats will say those projects are not funded in the stimulus package, but the language is so narrowly drafted that there are no other projects that meet the funding criteria.
There's 4 billion dollars for community groups like ACORN, and 400 million dollars for global warming research.

And he worked in the immigration issue.

And… there's no provision in the stimulus bill that will withhold federal funding for municipalities that have declared themselves sanctuary cities for Illegal Aliens. These places are not only ignoring federal law, they're opposing it, and they should not receive one penny of federal funding until those laws are removed from the books.

It's great that he raised objections to the way the stimulus package was passed but that is not going to prevent him from getting a piece of the pie for Hazleton.

Barletta has stimulus wish list

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta started making calls and setting up meetings to make sure some of the estimated $6 billion in economic stimulus funding earmarked for Pennsylvania ends up in the Mountain City...“I wasn’t going to wait to be asked,” Barletta said. “I contacted (U.S.) Senator (Arlen) Specter and (state) Representative (Todd) Eachus about the city’s wish list.”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

They called off winter

And I for one am happy that has happened, I even signed a petition. I usually fill in as the weekend weather anchor when Dana is busy but he beat me to the punch this time. Our friends on the right think that cold weather and snow somehow disproves Global Warming so I can conclude that today's warm temps prove it.

This Al Gort signing off with the weekend weather report.

With help from the late, great George Carlin.

George Carlin - Al Sleet Your Hippy Dippy Weatherman

Friday, March 06, 2009

Luzerne County Controller

At last night's candidate forum Luzerne County GOP Vice-Chair Paul DeFabo extended a welcome to former Democratic Commissioner and Republican candidate for Controller Edddd Brominski the 5th. For some reason Brominski didn't address the crowd nor did CPA Alice Coffman. She was there gathering signatures for her nominating petitions but bugged out before the program started.

Walter Griffith noted that he lost 2 races for Wilkes-Barre City Council and some people wish that he would go away, "I will not go away" he said. He reminded us that he has spent a great deal of time being a taxpayer advocate. He pledged that he would answer his own phone if elected.


Nanda Pallisery also paid tribute to Steve Flood and thinks he was doing a good job. He said that the Controller's office has staffing problems and is a few years behind on audits. He blasted Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla's performance as Controller saying that as an attorney he knew that bills submitted by Conahan's brother-in-law Psychologist Frank Vita were not legal. He said that he would to stand up to the Commissioners.

Back mountain mortgage broker Bob Sypniewski said his experience in finance would be an asset in the job. He said that like his father who protected the city streets as a Wilkes -Barre policeman he wanted to protect the taxpayers of the county. He knows that actions are more important than words and said we need "less lip service and more listening to what the people say”.

Luzerne County Prothonotary

I'm surprised that there only 2 Republican candidates seeking to replace poor 'used and abused' Jill Moran who had to resign because of her agreement to cooperate with the US attorney's investigation into her business dealings with the Juvie Brothers Conahan and Ciavarella and her law partner Participant number 1 Robert Powell.


The Mayor of the breakaway Republic of Bear Creek Village Walter Michell (above) was animated about the lack remorse and a "toxic sense of perverted entitlement" in the "Democrat party" that has run the Luzerne County government into a ditch. Echoing Howard Beale he said "We can't stand it and we're not going to take it anymore."


Former Prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski (right) stressed that "experience does count." Unlike Moran she stated that she worked overtime when she held the office and increased revenue from the office during her tenure citing that the copy machine alone produced $21,000 in a year when it previously took in zilch. She paid tribute to former Democratic Controller Steve Flood saying he was our watchdog, "He said they were crooks and he was right."