Monday, June 29, 2009

Bankrupt The City Of Hazleton- An Active Effort By The Dems

In the latest bully pulpit spewed by Todd Eachus to the news media over the City of Hazleton's pension woes Steve Mocarsky writes in the Times Leader as stating "Eachus said he’s busy working to try to balance the state budget, which he said is “facing the largest deficit since the Great Depression” – $3.2 billion – and trying to find a fix for the city’s problem right now is impractical. He also said case law wouldn’t allow for retroactive reimbursement even if the bill were passed. so the city would still owe the pension funds $3 million." Can one imagine that the Legislator for a district is too busy doing something else that working on an issue in his disctrict is "impractical"?

That statement is only one in a series of moves on Eachus's part that points to an active campaign which involves bankrupting the City of Hazleton. Let us examine his claim.

On October 8, 2008 Senate Bill 1093 was passed and signed into law in Pennsylvania. Information about the bill is found in the state's portal system. The act is more commonly known as Act 92. Here is synopsis from the portal document.

Act 2008 – 92 (Senate Bill Number 1093, Printer’s Number 2038). Signed into law on October 8, 2008, Act 92 amended the Municipal Police Pension Law (Act 600 of 1956), as amended by Act 30 of 2002, further clarifying eligibility and applicability of survivor benefit provisions for certain beneficiaries. Act 92 closed an unintentional gap in the survivor benefit coverage provided in Act 30 of 2002 for a small number of surviving spouses of police officers who retired before the effective date of Act 30 of 2002, and died after the act's effective date.

Act 92 declared that survivor benefits were payable to the surviving spouse or dependent child, as applicable, provided that the surviving spouse was not remarried on April 17, 2002. The surviving spouse is entitled to receive a pension of no less than 50% of the pension the member was receiving at the time of death, provided the spouse was a member of the police force or a former member of the police force who: 1) prior to April 18, 2002, retired on pension and dies subsequent to retirement; or 2) after April 16, 2002, retires on pension and dies subsequent to retirement. This act applies retroactively to April 17, 2002.

Eachus voted YES on this bill. So there is a pension bill passed in 2008 that is retroactive to 2002 that Todd Eachus voted YES on but Eachus makes the claim to John Q. Public that case law wouldn't allow for retroactive reimbursement.

His earlier attempt to thwart progress in Hazleton centered on the dredge issue and Hazleton Creek Properties. He worked with Clean Water Action to prevent the dredge from making it to the site. He issued a "Health Alert" from his official House Office using taxpayer dollars stating that the dredge would risk public health. Yet, the Department of Environmental Resources cleared the use of the dredge material by Hazleton Creek Properties.

It's statement: “The company’s proposal meets DEP’s strict regulations and includes conditions to ensure the safe and effective use of this material in construction,” DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin said.

Governor Rendell supported the plan with a $250,000 investment through the Rail Freight Assistance Program. “Hazleton Creek Properties will receive $250,000 for construction of new track to serve a bulk unloading facility adjacent to Humboldt Industrial Park; the facility will dispose of dredge material from the Delaware River".

As a result of that project over $4 million dollars have or will come to the City of Hazleton. Hazleton was paid $1 million dollars to date for material brought to the Hazleton Creek Properties site. In November, 2006 Mayor Lou Barletta was interviewed by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. In that interview he stated there were 31 police officers on the force. By March, 2007 the number of police officers increased by 2 to 33 keeping pace with a pledge he made in December, 2006 to increase the force by ten officers. Hazleton eventually went on to hire the ten officers meeting Barletta's goal with salaries for six of those officers paid for from the revenues generated by the dredge project.

It appears there is a concerted effort to make the City of Hazleton, its residents, firefighters, police, children, and senior citizens suffer over a political slugfest.

Eachus feigns support. “Something must be done to get the city out of this bind, but I want to make it clear that any solution must be within the confines of the state law and the state Constitution. It will be a challenge to fix the city’s mistakes, but I have asked my staff to determine what options, if any, we can take. While we work to find a solution, I suggest you also begin examining alternative options,” Eachus wrote.

The solution is already in a bill that Eachus failed to support. He sat silent during a hearing held by Rep. Dave Levdansky's committee. Representative Dave Levdansky made the statement during that hearing on Hazleton's pension issue he was opposed to a bill that only addressed one city. Yet in that same portal article a pension bill was passed for members and former members of the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority. Eachus has made a similar claim.

Act 2002 –185 (House Bill Number 2595, Printer’s Number 4633). Signed into law on December 9, 2002, Act 185 amended the Second Class County Code to permit a member who became an employee of the county to receive service credit for prior service with the former Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority (ACRA); and permit an active member of the system to receive up to three years of service credit for prior military service without regard to the minimum age or service requirements currently mandated by the Second Class County Code, and to be exempted from paying statutory interest of 6% per annum for the service purchase provided the member pays the required sum in full within three years of the effective date of the legislation. This bill passed 200-0 in the House so Eachus supported it was well.

Eachus acknowledges that the pension issue could cost Hazleton $3 million dollars. If the House Majority Leader cannot get a resolution through his chamber to help the largest city in his district why should the people of Hazleton support his reelection?

His opposition to the dredge project, had it been successful, would have added another $4 million dollar loss. If Eachus fails to support and intervene on the pension issue it will show that his priorties have been clouded with stinkin thinkin in an effort to "get Lou Barletta." Eachus has the audacity to call Barletta "reckless." His actions and inactions point to reckless disregard for the citizens he is paid to represent. It is time to call him out on his actions.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Eachus Dropped The Ball On Seniors

In an reader comment that appeared in the Standard Speaker's editorial section Conyngham Mayor Conrad Wittig comes to the defense of Todd Eachus. Eachus really has his writing machine working overtime these days.

What I found particularly interesting was this comment by the illustrious Mayor. Rep. Eachus has fought tirelessly for senior citizens, expanding the state's prescription drug program for seniors not once, but twice. If I was Rush Limbaugh I would be laughing hysterically on that statement.

Let's get to the facts. We will start with this chart from the Department of Aging.

Todd Eachus was elected to the House in 1996 according to his bio. From 1996 to 2002 look how the number of seniors on PACE/PACENET nosedives to 218,922. Robert Casey's terms as Governor and the Democrats witnessed the amount of older Pennsylvanians who received PACE or PACENET take a dramatic decline. It should be noted that there was a dramatic increase in recipients during Dick Thornburgh's tenure as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1984 through 1987. During Tom Ridge's term as governor there wasn't a dramatic loss of seniors on the program. Ridge actually increased the income limits during his term in July, 2001. One must keep in mind that it was a Repubican House that restored those seniors to the program. So much for the Democrats taking the credit for helping seniors in Pennsylvania.

Look at Chart No 2. Rendell did sign legislation to dramatically increase the number of seniors akcnowledging Eachus's role just to be fair. However, if you read the press release you will notice that the co-pay for brand drugs took a 50% jump from $6.00 to $9.00. You know what else took a 50% jump? Eachus's pension.

The increase of the number of seniors on PACE or PACENET increased to 291,241 by 2004 but a far cry from 477,772. Isn't it amazing how they can make you feel good about something that is really bad. Over 186,000 people lost PACE or PACENET through 2002 and they want you to rejoice over the fact that they added 69,679. They called it an expansion. I call it restoring, restoring those who were lost on the Democrat's watch.

Let's look at Chart No. 3.

Notice the income limits on the right hand column. Let's fast forward to 2009 and look at the PACE website. Here are the income limits. Eligibility is also determined by your previous calendar year’s income. For a single person, your total income must be $14,500 or less. For a married couple, your combined total income must be $17,700 or less. As you can see they are the exact same amount as in 2002. There is no Cost Of Living Adjustment(COLA)on income like the legislators have for their salary. That means as Social Security payments increase people automatically lose their benefit and there is nothing they can do about it.

If you look closely at the chart you will notice that income level eligibility only increased by $500.00 or 3.6 percent. The legislative salary in 2002 was 61889.00. Over at there is a great post about the salary grab of 2008. Base salary in 2008 increased on December 1st to $78,315.00. There was a zero increase in eligibility for PACE/PACENET recipients. It boggles the mind how Eachus can claim he is the champion of seniors. Todd, it's called wagging the dog.

Mayor Wittig, or better to the person who authored the letter, show me the "expansion". Today the number of people on PACE/PACENET according to the Department of Aging is 304,725, not 330,000 that the second chart projected would make the program. The program severly retracted and never helped the number of seniors who were helped during Dick Thornburgh's reign as governor.

FACT, FACT, and FACT not the fiction Todd Eachus wants people to eat at his table of the not so plenty. His spin on events borders on incorrigible.

Finally look at the Governor's Report on State Performance 2007-2008. I point you to page 98. The average price of a PACE prescription went down from $44.42 in 2005-06 to $26.09 in 2007-08. The average price of a PACENET prescription went down from $38.20 in 2005-06 to $27.24 in 2007-08. Folks that is a 29-42% decrease in the cost to the state. What are they doing with the excess money? Raiding the Lottery Fund for the General Fund??? If you go back to Chart No.2 you will see that the amount of seniors on the program from 2004 to 2008 did not change dramatically.

TODD EACHUS's claims are bogus and it is time to call him out on it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Deep Impact Auditor General and City Of Hazleton About To Collide

Yesterday Mark Guydish of the Times Leader wrote an Opinion piece concerning the pension situation facing Hazleton. His assessment came on the heels of an article written by Steve Mocarsky after Todd Eachus wrote a letter critical of Mayor Lou Barletta's financial moves concerning the pension funds in Hazleton.

Let's take a step back from all the rhetoric spewed in this episode of Guydish's Taxpayer Victim's Unit. A little homework usually provides the necessary education to make an informed decision.

There is a law called the Third Class City Code. If we go back to the Depression era we will find that the code was created in 1931. It is found in Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes more commonly known in the legal circles as Title 53 Municipal and Quasi-Municipal Corporations.

In looking at 53 P.S. §895.102 one will find definitions relating to pensions. A "Pension Fund" is defined as "the entity which is the repository for the assets amassed by a pension plan as reserved for present and future periodic retirement payments and benefits of active and retired members of the pension plan". A "Pension plan or system" is defined as "the various aspects of the relationship between a municipality and its employees wtih respect to retirement coverage provided by a municipality to its employees". A "Plan document" is defined as the law, ordinance, resolution, or related documents which governs the various aspects of the retirement coverage provided by a municipality to its employees, including periodic retirement payments and benefits, administration, and funding".

Do you see a pattern in the definitions? Pension payments are not only the monthly stipend provided by the plan according to the barganning agreement but also explicitly includes "BENEFITS."

The issue at hand is whether the City of Hazleton used money provided for by law, specifically Act 205, to be collected for pension payments to also be used for benefit payments. Auditor General Jack Wagner has ruled against the City of Hazleton and the Mayor believes his ruling to be incorrect according to the language of the law written above.

From the press release on the Auditor General's website. Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that an audit of the City of Hazleton’s police and firefighter pension plans found that the city improperly spent more than $1.5 million of special municipal pension tax revenues to pay for retirees’ health-care benefits....

Act 205 of 1984, the state law authorizing collection of the tax, requires that revenue from the tax be used exclusively to fund a municipality’s pension plans. Neither Act 205 nor any other state law permits using the tax revenue to pay for post-retirement health-care benefits or to buy back unused leave.

Wagner noted that Hazleton had properly exercised its right to pay retirees’ health-care benefits from general funds before 2003.

If the definition of a Pension Fund is the entity which is the repository for the assets amassed by a pension plan as reserved for present and future periodic retirement payments and benefits of active and retired members of the pension plan" how does Wagner find solid legal ground for his determination?

In the Auditor General's determination he opines that the City erred by using Act 205 money to fund retiree's health benefits. AG Wagner believes that the money can solely be used to defray the additional costs which are directly related to the pension plans of the municipality. If we go back to the definition of the "Pension plan or system" the defining words are too broad to limit retirement coverage solely to the monthly stipend.

The trouble with AG Wagner enforcing his determination lies in the travesty to the citizens of Hazleton. At this point there is no expense to the citizens of Hazleton nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the solution Lou Barletta found for his vexing pension issue. AG Wagner could force Hazleton into bankruptcy because its taxing ability is limited to 30 mills at the present time. The other option is for the Mayor and City Council to implement layoffs in the fire and police department to make up for the deficit that would be created by a payback.

If a law were passed it would have zero-impact on city residents and employees. If it isn't passed everyone would face a "Deep Impact."

If the Public Employee Retirement Commission(PERC) does not have a problem with Barletta's solution why does Todd Eachus? If the Senate voted 49-0 to support a legal remedy why is it that Todd Eachus has a problem?

From Steve Mocarsky's article: Eachus said he’s busy working to try to balance the state budget, which he said is “facing the largest deficit since the Great Depression” – $3.2 billion – and trying to find a fix for the city’s problem right now is impractical. Uhhh Todd, who got us into the largest deficit since the Great Depression? You and Governor Rendell. And are really too busy to help the people in your district?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eachus Not Mentioned In AP Story About Money Coming Back To District

There are times that one is more than ecstatic that his/her name is not mentioned in a news item. However, there are times when it is amazing one does not make mention.

Enter Todd Eachus into the room. Three days ago the Associated Press did a story about legislative grants coming to the home district. Last year's Democratic House Leader Bill DeWeese was No. 1 in grant money coming back to his district in dollars per person. House Speaker Keith McCall from Carbon County came in at No.2.

Todd Eachus did not even get an honorable mention in the article. His feud with Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta has blinded his duty to the voters of his district. Hazleton is the largest city in his district and the third largest in Luzerne County.
Eachus's anger at the Mayor hurts each and every citizen of Hazleton. In a city that is two to one registered Democrats to Republicans Eachus is willing to hurt voters of his own party to accomplish his childish goal of retribution against the Mayor.

Eachus's district office was located in the Broad Street Exchange which was recently turned over to Luzerne County. He moved because he complained about the lack of parking for people seeking his office's services. The part he left out is his unwillingness to support a parking garage for the Intermodel project right behind the Broad Street Exchange.

Todd, do you work for Governor Rendell or do you represent the 116th district?

Friday, June 19, 2009

It Is Time To Call Todd Eachus Out

In an editorial that appeared in today's Standard Speaker Dan Guydish opines on the merits and good works that Todd Eachus did for his district and Pennsylvania in general.

Let's examine Eachus's record. He voted himself a 16% pay raise in 2005 then refused to give it back. Keep in mind that this pay raise was on top of the cost of living adjustment legislators receive on a yearly basis.

A senior House Committee aide and Eachus staff Member, Rachel Manzo, was indicted in Bonusgate but as House Democratic Majority Policy Chairman Eachus claims no involvement.

Here is a letter he authored on the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee website:

Welcome to the online home of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee. Democrats captured the Majority for the first time in 12 years in 2006.

Since January of 2007, Democrats have been hard at work changing business as usual and making progress on healthcare reform, energy reform, and economic development on behalf of Pennsylvania families.

In November 2008, House Democrats have historic opportunities to expand our Majority and continue our work on behalf of all Pennsylvanians.

Yours Truly,

Rep. Todd Eachus

Chairman, House Democratic Campaign Committee

Does Eachus really beleive that John Q. Public would believe the person who was chairman of the campaign committee did not know about all the state workers employed to capture the majority in the House, an act that didn't happen for the past twelve years?

According to Brad Bumsted at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review many of Eachus's aides were interviewed by the Attorney General's office.

Aides to House Democratic Policy Chairman Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne County, were recently interviewed by the attorney general's investigators, according to the Insider, a statewide political newsletter. The topic was the 2006 election, the Insider said. Eachus could not be reached for comment on Friday.

He responds to questions about Bonusgate and politicians who lost their seats over it by stating "(Bonusgate) did more damage than I thought." Todd, shouldn't you be denouncing the use of state employees for campaign purposes??? Here was your answer to that position. "It was the partisan way the Republican Campaign Committee used the issue to exemplify the partisan investigation by the attorney general," Eachus said.

He UNILATERALLY voted to pay off indicted Mike Veon's campaign debt totally $45,000.00. He defended his unilateral decision to bail out Veon, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he would have done the same thing for any Democrat who lost.

Yet, two of Veon's former Democratic colleagues, both of whom hail from Beaver County the same as Veon did, have campaign debts the committee hasn't offered to pay off. Rep. Sean Ramaley owes $7,000 from his first campaign for the state House in 2004 and Rep. Vincent Biancucci owes $12,000 from his 2002 and 2004 races, state records show.

Guess who's campaign Rachel Manza worked on while receiving state taxpayer's money? None other than Mike Veon.

Crooks are crooks period, Mr. Eachus. Each person in this world is repsonsible for his or her conduct. The fact that others may be doing the same thing does not exonerate that person from his or her conduct. Ask your buddy Robert Powell.

Eachus received $19,000.00 in donations from admitted felon Robert Powell, the disgraced attorney who used kids in a scheme to profit on the juvenile detention center in Luzerne County.

Here is a list of Powell's donations to Eachus, dates and amounts from

8/4/2004 $250.00
6/27/2008 $250.00
10/17/2000 $100.00
6/20/2001 $250.00
9/15/2000 $400.00
5/5/2004 $500.00
6/12/2006 $340.00
10/21/2004 $250.00
5/16/2002 $150.00
3/5/2004 $500.00
7/12/2005 $260.00
8/4/2004 $750.00
3/29/2005 $10,000.00
2/6/2007 $5,000.00

Eachus was front and center on the promotion of the cargo airport proposed by Powell et al. Eachus is a central figure in their media releases. Eachus was so supportive of the fantasy airport that he was willing to borrow $250 million and put the taxpayers of Pennsylvania on the hook for it. If the cargo airport succeeded it was going to take 16 years for Pennsylvania taxpayers to recoup their money.

To quote Guydish As far as helping local municipalities, non-profit agencies and government affiliates, Rep. Eachus has constantly delivered timely advice and financial assistance. He doesn't draw party lines in the process either. On really Danny. Ask the City of Hazleton how it is making out with the pension issue that could bankrupt Hazleton and the money for the Intermodel project? Like Yukon Cornelius, Nothin.

Eachus attended a hearing held by Rep. David Levdansky (D-Allegheny County) who is chairman of the House Finance Committee concerning the pension request in September of last year. It was televised live by PCN. Eachus didn't offer one word of support for Hazleton's request. He sat in the audience like Don Corleone making sure Levdansky did his bidding. About Levdansky- Levdansky has been arrested for DUI with blood-alcohol content registered
at 0.16 percent
and had a Protection From Abuse Order against him from his former wife.

Here's what Todd Eachus had to say about supporting Powell's fantasy cargo airport.

“Why wouldn’t we deserve state funding?” he asked, when questioned about the $250 million in state money required to make the airport viable.

“We deserve in Northeastern Pennsylvania the same amount of money Philadelphia and Pittsburgh get” for capital budget projects like the new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, he said.

The money will create jobs that are family-sustaining and high-paying, he said.

“This project means a lot to my community, and I’m not going away on it.”

Why does Pottsville deserve $15 million in funding for its intermodel project but the Majority Leader of the House cannot get funding for Hazleton's project? Do the workers in Hazleton not deserve employment? Why is Scranton and Nanticoke receiving funding for their projects? If Robert Powell was behind the Intermodel project would you borrow $11 million to help him?

As Majority Leader Hazleton should be the shining star in the state but Eachus has consistently refused, along party lines, to help Hazleton fostering and promoting Paul Kanjorski's pathetic stance and vow that Hazleton will never get a dime even though he posted funding for it on his website.

Hazleton is the biggest city in Eachus's district. Todd what have you done to earn its vote?

Let's recap. Todd Eachus- Rachel Manza, Mike Veon, Robert Powell, David Levdansky some nice company. Where's Archie when you want to watch "All In The Family'?

Rendell Orders Cuts But Keeps Adding To The Pot

Photo from

On April 10, I reported that Tony Phrillas stated Ed Rendell hired 110 people since announcing a hiring freeze for the state. is reporting that Rendell has ordered $500 million in budget cuts from his department heads.

Is it possible one person can be this dumb?

Ex-Leader of PA House Democratic Campaign Committee Rejected Plan To Remove State Workers From Campaign Assistance

Dem ex-leader nixed removing state workers from campaigns

According to Tracie Mauriello and Dennis B. Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette former State Representative Steve Stetler rejceted a plan to remove state workers from campaign business. His reward- he is now the Secretary of Revenue for Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 HARRISBURG -- At the time he chaired the state House Democratic campaign committee, then State Rep. Steve Stetler rejected a plan that would have shifted the job of opposition research from state employees to private firms, a onetime top campaign aide told a state grand jury.

Mr. Stetler is now the state Secretary of Revenue.

"It was more or less shot down," Dan Wiedemer, now an aide to another House member, told grand jurors in July, just days after a dozen former House members and their staff were charged with diverting tax dollars to pay for political campaign work. He said Mr. Stetler, who at that time chaired the House Democratic Campaign Committee, suggested "we have a perfectly good system in place already."

Mr. Stetler left the House after 2006, opting not to run again in the wake of voter backlash over a pay increase legislators voted themselves the preceding year.

The testimony regarding Mr. Stetler took place during a still-ongoing investigation by Attorney General Tom Corbett into allegations that millions of taxpayer dollars were used for bogus performance bonuses for state employees who worked on the 2006 and 2004 election campaigns of Democratic candidates for the state House. A partial transcript, obtained by the Post-Gazette, places Mr. Wiedemer's testimony on July 29 of last year -- more than two weeks after a statewide grand jury returned a presentment charging 12 current and former House members, including former Minority Whip Mike Veon, D-Beaver, with multiple counts of fraud in the scheme.