Thursday, December 17, 2009

MaryAnn Petrilla- Emulating and Keeping Political Cronyism Strong

One would think that the FBI's efforts surrounding the Luzerne County Courthouse would officals more careful, transparent, and accountable with their dealings. Well, as you are about to see all is well in Political Cronyism land. I was reviewing some postings on the net and noticed that Gort wrote about the amount of money raised by Luzerne County Commissioner Maryann Petrilla this year. What struck me odd was that she isn't running for office this year nor did she need to retire debt. She is a sitting Luzerne County Commissioner.

Back in November, 2006 Gort wrote about Maryanne's plan to run for Luzerne County Commissioner while holding the office of Luzerne County Controller.

In looking at her campaign filings prior to running for Commissioner her indebtedness was as high as $70,300.00 on June 6, 2005. The earliest campaign filing on the Courthouse websites indicates she had a debt 0f $45,417.59 as of April 16, 2004. At the end of 2006 she had indebtedness of $36,300.00.

A review of her latest campaign report indicates she has a positive balance of $78,170.24 as of 10-19-2009 in her "Friends of Maryanne Petrilla" campaign account. In a span of two years she was able to swing $125,070.00 worth of money. That figure represents the political culture icon demonstrating politics as usual in Luzerne County.

What is more revealing is who gave her the money to achieve such a positive balance? First, this examination is not making the claim that the donations are illegal by any means. However, as you will see, from a taxpayer perspective they raise a multitude of ethical questions.

For starters her campaign forms have been submitted by Tracey Gallagher and Donald Karpowich for some of the years on file on the website. According to this document it appears they are husband and wife. Donald Karpowich is listed as the solicitor for Luzerne County Controller. This Annual Filing of the Controller of Luzerne County lists Donald Karpowich as the solicitor for Acting Controller A.J. Martinelli, however, Maryann Petrilla is listed as Controller. So basically her solicitor was also filing campaign reports for her while an officer of Luzerne County. He was also hired as the solicitor for Luzerne County's Retirement Board by Maryanne et al.

Article from:The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA) Article date:April 20, 2006 The Times Leader. Retirement board solicitor fired: Board also rejects paying former county Controller Steve Flood's legal bill. Byline: Jennifer Learn-Andes

Apr. 20--Luzerne County Retirement Board members Greg Skrepenak, Todd Vonderheid and Maryanne Petrilla voted Wednesday to fire solicitor Chris Cullen and not pay a $137,221 legal bill to a Philadelphia law firm handling former controller Steve Flood's defamation suit. The trio then voted to appoint controller's office solicitor Donald Karpowich as interim retirement board solicitor until the board can interview the six or seven applicants. Karpowich did not apply for the permanent post, Petrilla said. Retirement board members Stephen A. Urban and Mike Morreale voted against the appointment.
It must be true that lightning can strike twice.

A campaign report was also filed by Kristen Martinelli and notarized by Tracey Gallgher for 2008. In that report the Friends of Skrepenak and Vonderheid committee contributed $26,350.00 on January 15, 2008 and the Friends of Skrepenak and Petrilla committee contributed $54,586.00 on March 28, 2008 to the People of Petrilla commmittee. The People of Petrilla committee transferred $55,000.00 to her newly formed campaign finance committee(CFC) Friends of Maryanne Petrilla on May 2, 2008.

In the Friends of Maryanne Petrilla filing through December, 2008 Nobel Quandel is listed as a $2,000.00 contributor on May 31, 2008.

Moving onto the latest campaign filing there some more interesting pieces of information. On August 31, 2009 Friends of Jackie Musto Carroll contributed $250.00 to her political committee hesitating to use the word "campaign" since Maryanne is already elected and holding office. Vito Deluca, Luzerne County Solicitor, contributed $375.00; Ed Casaldi, Luzerne County Public Safety Director donated $500.00; Donald Karpowich contributed $1,625.00; Joseph Piazza(along with his wife Patricia) Luzerne County Warden donated $500.00.

Correct me if I am wrong. As Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla by the County Code is a mandatory member of the Luzerne County Salary Board. Is it ethical for a sitting member of a Salary Board to accept campaign contributions from those who she will determine their salary and fund through Luzerne County taxpayers in the county budget?

Friends of Maryanne Petrilla committee contributed to the following campaign finance committees in 2009: Joe Musto for Judge Committee- $250.00, Committee to Elect Amesbury Judge $125.00, Committee to Elect Tina Polachek Gartley-total $1,200.00, Friends of Jackie Caroll Musto- $250.00. Again, aren't these Officers of the County who's staff salaries are determined in part by Maryanne Petrilla's vote?

How can there be reform in Luzerne County when these practices exist? If one were to sue the county would there be a conflict of interest for these judges to hear the case? If one were to have an issue with the county how can one accept the decision of the County solicitor or the solicitor of the various boards and offices when contributions back and forth cloud the issue?

Are these office holders transparent with the public in their transactions?

Click here for access to Friends of Maryanne Petrilla.

Click here for access to People For Petrilla.

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