In a story that appears in today's Citizen's Voice by supersleuth Dave Janoski(and Hazleton Standard Speaker) Judge Peter Paul Olszewski maintains that a photo leaked to the media showing him with Micahel Conahan, Ron Bellitiere, and attorney John Kennedy from Forty Fort is a smear attempt to influence his retention bid this November.
Olszewski said he was unaware of either man's alleged criminal activities when the photo was taken in 2005.
"It's obviously being done to embarrass me before the election," Olszewski said of the photo, which shows him, Conahan, the convicted dealer and a Luzerne County attorney holding drinks and liquor bottles in a Florida condominium that Conahan allegedly used to launder kickbacks in the kids-for-cash case.
In a tense, hour-long interview with The Citizens' Voice editors and reporters Thursday, Olszewski said he believes the June 2005 photo was mailed anonymously to the media by Conahan and/or his codefendant, former county Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., to hurt his bid for a second 10-year term in November.
"If you publish this, you're doing Mark's bidding," Olszewski said. "You're doing what the most corrupt judges in the world want you to do."
Olszewski said he clashed with Ciavarella during Ciavarella's last months as president judge, before Ciavarella and Conahan were charged in the kids-for-cash scandal in January. Olszewski said he disagreed with a lawsuit Ciavarella filed against the county commissioners to stall proposed cuts in court staffing and other administrative decisions made by Ciavarella.
Olszewski said shortly after Ciavarella's arrest in January, Ciavarella left him a "rambling," angry voice mail message "castigating" him for comments he made to the media about Ciavarella's tenure as president judge.
Olszewski said three people have told him Ciavarella is still "seething" over the criticism.
I read his editorial explanation/commentary in the Times Leader on why he didn't know what was going on in Ciavarella's courtroom. As Gort said over in his fantastic blog, why was it that everyone knew what was going on in Judge Ann Lokuta's courtroom and no one knew what was going on in Ciavarella's?
Whether or not the electorate will believe him will be born out in the Novemeber bid. Unfortunately, Judge Burke needs to separate himself from this mess. I have heard nothing but admirable accolades about his service and integrity. That is not to contrast in any way with any assessment of Olszewski's work on the bench.
Communication in any relationship is key to its survival. Right now the voters are angry, not just with Luzerne County, but the Pennsylvania legislature, Congress, and the President. They need to be made whole again with respect to government's duty to the people, not to themselves. If any incumbent wants to survive the next few years of election it will be sincere efforts, not pandering that will retain his/her seat.
Getting back to the picture. I have an associate who worked for the CIA for 23 years. One of the tenents in his training was "Dont worry about who you are looking at worry about who is looking at you." Who took the picture? It's not who we see but who we don't see. Who else is missing from the picture that may have been at the condo at the same time.
You may want to revisit my post from May 11, 2009.