Thursday, October 15, 2009

Luzerne County Controller

The county Republicans are looking for a sweep of the 3 row offices up for election this year and many local political observers have told me if they don't win this time they never will. Next to the Commissioners the most important job under the dome is Controller. The candidates are Republican Walter Griffith , Democrat Bob Morgan and Independent Wil Toole.

Toole is a long time Democratic politico from Pittston who flirted with a run for the Democratic nomination in the spring and applied for the job in 2008 when Maryanne Petrilla became Commissioner. Rapid Edward never got around to filling the post. He is now running as an Independent.

Toole was the first Controller candidate interviewed by the Times Leader Editorial Board and sometimes sounds like Rodney King. “I don’t know why we have to be at war. I don’t know why we can’t say, ‘This is wrong. Let’s fix it,’ rather than, ‘Ha, ha, ha, I got you.’ I just don’t see that as being necessary.” He touts his achievements as Pittston's as city clerk/administrator "I ran the city of Pittston for 13 years,” Toole said the city had low tax rates, paved roads, pristine parks, adequate staff, an over-funded pension fund and manageable debt load when he left in 1997.

The article also notes that Toole made headlines in 1999 when he agreed to repay Pittston nearly $19,000 in overtime the city said he illegally obtained. Pittston officials said he obtained that money by inflating the hours of overtime he worked during his last year of employment as city clerk. Felony charges of theft and tampering with public records against Toole were dismissed by a county judge. Who was the Judge?

I find it amazing that the TL would include that information in the article but not ask him to comment about it. I have asked Toole for his side of the story and will publish his response if he answers.

The Blogfather has been researching the PNC Bank ethics policy because Democratic nominee Bob Morgan is employed by that bank. He points out many potential conflicts of interest because PNC has been involved financing Luzerne County bonds and some pension funds also wash through PNC. The company prohibits outside employment that interferes with the employee's job responsibilities or schedule. Morgan is on record as saying he will keep his job at the bank and will devote whatever time he feels is necessary to the Controller's position. I'm just guessing but I think he keeps banker's hours so how is he going to be available for all the meetings of the Salary Board, Retirement Board, Commissioner's meetings and just running the day to day operations of the office? Maybe he has a lot of vacation time saved up.

The Lu Lac Political Letter is hosting a debate between the candidates at Bentley’s, Route 309 in Ashley Tuesday October 27th from 7 to 9PM. All three candidates have accepted David's invitation.

This is neat. A venue that I can grab a drink then go to a political debate. I think that we can make this into a blogger/committee meetup.

Update: The date for the debate is MONDAY OCT. 26th. We changed the date because of WVIA TV's broadcast debate on the night of the 27th. We felt it wouldn't be fair to the candidates to compete with that. So the debate is Monday, Oct. 26th


Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

And so it comes to this; a political debate at a beer garden. Where shall we hold the next one? Perhaps an amusement park or, more fittingly, an asylum?? I assume that by the end of the evening each of the selective candidates for office will have offered a solution to the health care crisis, the war on terror, and a cure for cancer. Will the even remember the office which they seek?? Once again, modern day political reporting has hit a new low. Perhaps we should label this new phenomenon "Frat House Journalism". God help us all. Class dismissed!!!

David Yonki said...

Gort, two things.....first off we chose Bentley's because we were told that King's was trying to get out of the political debate business. Calls to Wilkes were never returned. And we had LCCC as a site but decided to go with Bentley's because of its close proximity to the county. And Bentley's is no beer garden.
But more importantly, the date for the debate is MONDAY OCT. 26th. We changed the date because of WVIA TV's broadcast debate on the night of the 27th. We felt it wouldn't be fair to the candidates to compete with that. So the debate is Monday, Oct. 26th. Sorry I didn't let you know sooner but we just confirmed everything Wednesday night.

Joe Valenti said...

It seems you and I are the only one questioning Wil Toole's past. Let's see if Yonk will ask him at his forum.
And, yep, MIke Conahan was the judge who dismissed Toole's felony charges and Sharkey was the court administrator at the time as well.
Joe V

Anonymous said...

Hey Professor asshole, Bentley's is a pretty upscale place. It has banquet room and a first class restaurant, maybe if you made some real money you would be able to eat there and discover the truth instead of just spouting off.

D.B. Echo said...

Darnit. I'm working October 27. And even if I weren't, it's my brother's birthday, so I probably wouldn't be able to make it.

HAHA! That old crackpot of a Professor gets put in his place! Still, be gentle with him. I think at his advanced age, he may be getting a little touched. Plus, with today's weather, he may just fall down and break a hip.

D.B. Echo said...

Whoops, just read The Yonk's comments. I'm working the 26th, also.

PoorRichard said...

I have no problem stating who the judge was that dismissed the charges and I did discuss the entire situation during the TL interview.

The fact is that half of the charges were dismissed at the magistrate's level. Carmen Maffei was the magistrate and he said afterward that he had confusion on some of the charges but if he understood the entire situation at the time, he would have dismissed all of them. The original magistrate was Fred Pierantoni but he removed himself because of perceived conflict of interest by working in the same building with me.

The truth was that most of the judges excused themselves because they knew me personally. Judge Conahan did agree to take the case. The thing that Conahan knew and bothered me was that when he defeated Judge Musto in his election to the Bench, I was a strong supporter of Judge Musto and absolutely did not support Conahan. That's a fact! Now with that situation facing me, I thought I would be in real trouble with Conahan but there was nothing I could do about which judge was left to hear my case. He did dismiss the remainder of the charges and commented as to how could they have gotten that far? The charges were absurd.

As for the question of Conahan being a friend of mine when all this happened can be answered in the fact that it was Judge Conahan who worked out my pension law suit and the deciding factor in my accepting the proposed settlement was that my attorney and I thought that I was awarded health insurance for life. We thought it was designed the same as state pensions at the time. I mention this because it was also Judge Conahan who canceled my heath insurance coverage last year. Does that sound like he did me a favor?

Joe Valenti claims to be the only one questioning my background but the fact that I filed a defamation law suit against him may have something to do with his obsession to continue his character assassination of me.

The history of my work in my community is contained within my web site, At the age of 66, I wake every morning and I'm proud of the man in the mirror. I have made many efforts and spent countless hours doing what I could to improve the quality of life in my community. If voters take the time to read about my work history and my public works and then choose to base their opinion on character assassination and false charges over 10 years old then that's their right to do so. Apparently, it is the headlines that matter, not the ultimate disposition of those headlines.

This all boils down to comparing what I have done with my life, the work experience I have accumulated and the ability I have to be a good County Controller. By the way, my "Rodney King" point when interviewed was based on what I see as county officials spending more time looking to lay blame than working together to solve problems. If I'm wrong and working together is a bad objective then there are two other candidates to choose from. This is still America and as a veteran of 4 years of active duty, I will defend your right to choose. And, as a veteran I will exercise my right to defend myself when challenged.

Anonymous said...

Valenti, what an A@@hole, he should pull his bottom lip over his head and swallow his dumb ass. As for the debate, what a fantastic idea and am looking forward to it. And by the way it is a very nice location, but i'm sure Valenti would rather have it at the Red Mill, "DUMB ASS"