Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hazleton City Authority Members Want To Stop Sale

Phil Andras

In today's Standard Speaker the members of the Hazleton City Authority attack Mayor Lou Barletta over his plan to sell the water department of the authority. .

The allegations by the board members speaks to their parochial, provincial, and partisan position with regards to what is right for the citizens of Hazleton of which their oath demands allegiance. It also points to persons where their fields of education lack the proper training to be part of the management of a $68 million water distribution asset. The cliche is circling the wagons to foster and unleash a typical, opposition attack found in any political can on the shelf of distraction.

Water authority wants to stop sale
Published: December 31, 2009

Ammon said 40 percent of HCA customers live outside Hazleton. HCA has customers in Hazle Township, West Hazleton, Banks Township, Beaver Meadows, Packer Township, Lausanne Township, Foster Township, Jeddo Borough, Mahanoy, Black Creek, Sugarloaf, Delano and Butler townships.

Those ratepayers, authority Chairman Phil Andras said, built the authority, which today has about $68 million in assets. Andras said in that respect, the authority is owned by its customers, who each have $4,000 to $5,000 invested in it.

Mr. Andras is principal at the Shennandoah Junior-Senior High School. Do they have business courses as part of the curriculum? If you believe Mr. Andras's statement then all of us must own part of PPL, ATT, UGI, and the cable company.

The ratepayers are customers of the water department. They buy its product and service. They did not "invest" in the authority no more than any customer of PPL who purchases power or UGI that purchases gas.

It took 71 years to build the authority and it could take 30 seconds on a vote to end it," Ammon said. Authority members believe the sale of the authority to a private company will eventually lead to higher customer rates.

The water department existed long before the Hazleton City Authority. The Municipal Authorities Act was passed in 1935. There was water long before 1935 in Hazleton. Who created that infrastructure and managed it? The City of Hazleton. It turned its assets over to the Authority.

A google search turned up this information from the Department Reports of Pennsylvania. The Wyoming Valley Water Supply company , a subsidiary of Lehigh Valley Coal Co, was providing water service in the City of Hazleton.

A little bit of history for the principal.

The Diamond water works were erected in 1887. Already the demands require that they double their capacity, and at this time (June, 1892) work has commenced enlarging their reservoir. The Hazleton Gas Company was incorporated March 14, 1872. Commissioners named in the act: C. Pardee, W.A.M. Grier, Sylvester Engle, R.F. Russell, John Bond and James James. Board of directors: president, C. Pardee; secretary and treasurer, W.A.M. Grier. The works were built in 1872 and gas furnished customers in November of that year.

In the Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Health of the Commonweatlh of Pennsylvania the report indicates water supplied to the City of Hazleton came from the Hazleton Water Company found on page 731 and 732.

On page 725 of that report one will find the following information. The Hazleton Water Company was chartered January 8, 1875 and the Diamond Water Supply Company was incorporated June 24, 1887.

It appears the Hazleton Water Company operated as part of the authority after the Hazleton City Authority was formed in 1938.

To the claims of water rates increasing when a municipality sells it water division look at this article from October, 2009.

Water rates to fall in wake of Saxonburg system sale

The Saxonburg Area Authority completed a $6 million sale of its water business to Pennsylvania American Water on Wednesday.

The sale will result in an 18 percent rate reduction for nearly three-fourths of the authority's former 1,100 customers in the borough andparts of Jefferson and Clinton townships, said authority Manager Paul Cornetti.

Back to the Standard Speaker article.

Mundie said when Atlanta, Ga., sold its water company for $420 million to a private company in Jan. 1, 1999, it found more problems with service. He said dirty water and non-functioning service created great disastifaction with ratepayers.

To Hazleton City Councilman Mundie's claims of poor water quality which are nothing more that boilerplate rhetoric found in the political arena of defense. The following information is contained in the 2008 LACKAWANNA & LUZERNE COUNTY REGIONAL FACT BOOK:

Pennsylvania-American Water Company (PAWC) is northeastern Pennsylvania’s single water utility. PAWC is the state’s largest regulated water utility and serves more than two million people in 372 Pennsylvania communities. Pennsylvania-American Water is a division of RWE AG, a German company. PAWC has 38 water treatment facilities, three wastewater facilities, and about 8,900 miles of pipeline to service its

While PAWC is the leading water utility for Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and surrounding areas, Hazelton actually receives its water supply from the Hazelton City Authority. The Authority employs American Water Services, Inc. to lend its water industry professionals. These trained water experts help to treat, distribute, and manage water resources in the City of Hazelton.

Mr. Mundie, how much training do the Board Members receive that would qualify being called "experts" when compared to a company that serves over 2 million customers in 372 Pennsylvania communities?

This information about Pennsylvania American Water can be found on its website.

In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) sets rules and we carefully follow them. Those regulations are what help to ensure everyone is receiving quality water and wastewater service at a fair price. All changes and increases to service rates are directly related to the cost of providing high quality service and are subjected to a public review process and approval by the PUC.

Pennsylvania American Water follows strict regulations created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulations help provide high quality drinking water. Because we are privileged to work in cooperation with the USEPA to help in the development of national drinking water standards, we are often years ahead of the industry in implementing regulations.

Pennsylvania American Water is committed to delivering high quality water to all of our customers in Pennsylvania. We conduct about 200,000 tests per year for about 100 potential contaminants, checking drinking water quality at every stage of the water treatment and delivery process.

We are also a voluntary member of the Partnership for Safe Water, and have received 28 Directors Awards statewide for providing water to our customers that surpasses what is required by drinking water standards.

Talk about poor quality of water distribution read this comment. PA: Water System Upgrades

For the last 10 years, 40,000 residents of Hazleton, Pa., periodically have been without sufficient quantities of clean drinking water, or without water service at all, due to aging water mains.

As the Mayor tries to clean up the acid mine drainage into the Jeddo Tunnel with the Hazleton Creek project this tidbit speaks to authority members' concerns about contamination. 1973- The Hazleton City authority decides to use the Jeddo Tunnel as a source of water providing that the state provides 75 % of the project's $8-$10 million dollar cost.

Finally, let's address the good principal's comment regarding working with the City. Andras said the authority is willing to help the city out as it has in the past. He suggested possibly entering into a renewable energy program that could benefit the authority and the city. Mr. Andras also made the commment about being a "no-brainer". Well here is a prime example of no brains.

The Hazleton City Authority has been engaged in trying to execute a windmill project for several years.

Windmill Project Would Save Hazleton City Authority $400K
STAFF WRITER. Hazleton Standard-Speaker
Published: Saturday, January 31, 2009 4:13 AM EST

A windmill project boosted this week by a $300,000 state grant would save the Hazleton City Authority water department almost $400,000 in energy costs over two decades.

It would be the first project in Pennsylvania in which the power generated would be dedicated to a public entity and not sold to the power grid.

Community Energy has received a $300,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Harvest Grant Program, to supplement a previous $200,000 state grant for the design and installation of a single, 600-kilowatt wind turbine on HCA land along Route 424.

Oh..this project sounds so fantastic one wants to prematurely pop the bubbly before tonight's ball drop. But hold one.

In a letter to John Hanger, Acting Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection from Senator Mary Jo White, Chairman of the Senate Evironmental Resources and Energy Committee dated March 18, 2009 she asks the following question of Mr. Hanger.

Dear Acting Secretary Hanger:

I am writing to request additional information regarding several grants approved by your Department.

On January 29th, the Governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a $300,000 Energy Harvest grant to Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (Pennfuture). The announcement states that the grant is to supplement a previous grant for the design and installation of a wind turbine at the Hazleton (Luzerne County) Authority Water Department. The previous grant awarded by DEP for the same project was a $200,000 grant awarded in November 2005. Ostensibly, the justification for the second grant award was because costs for the purchase and installation of a wind turbine had significantly increased in the previous two years.

I would appreciate your response to the following questions:

1) As head of Pennfuture, you were the signatory on the $300,000 application to DEP, dated June 18, 2008. Given the fact that the DEP Secretary has final departmental decision-making as to which applications are funded, what if any steps did the Administration take to ensure that this application was reviewed by someone outside of DEP’s chain of command? If so, who?

2) Community Energy, Inc., a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, is to acquire the wind project and serve as the project operator. That being the case, what is the rationale for a third-party, non-profit organization such as Pennfuture to serve as the funding applicant? Why is it not more appropriate for either Community Energy, Inc. or the Hazleton Authority Water Department to serve as the funding applicant?

3) As part of its 2005 grant application, Pennfuture requested $50,000 for “salaries and benefits”. How much of the 2005 grant of $200,000 was retained by Pennfuture for salaries, benefits or any other administrative costs?

4) How much of the 2009 grant for $300,000 is to be retained by Pennfuture for salaries, benefits or any other administrative costs?

5) Has the Department awarded supplemental grants – which exceeded the size of the original grant – to other organizations to cover high-than-anticipated project costs? If so, please provide examples.

6) A primary focus of Energy Harvest is to leverage public dollars to spur private investment. For example, the January 29, 2009 press release noted that over five years Energy Harvest has awarded nearly $33.5 million while leveraging nearly $110 million in private investments.

However, my understanding is that this project is to receive nearly $700,000 in public or ratepayer assistance ($500,000 Energy Harvest; $192,000 Sustainable Development Fund production credits), with projected benefits to ratepayers of only $393,000 (over 20 years) to customers of the Hazleton Authority Water Department (essentially paying $393,000 less for wind power from the installed wind turbine compared with wind energy rates from PPL).

How is spending near $700,000 to save $393,000 over 20 years a positive investment of public dollars?

Basically the taxpayers of Pennsylvania are giving the Hazleton City Authority $692,000.00 so that it can invest it and earn only $393,000 back in 20 years. The exact definition of no brains. The Commonwealth should just give HCA $393,000 so it can keep the other $299,000.00. Mr. Andras must go to Paul Kanjorski's school of "FREE MONEY".

Couple that devastating consequence with the fact previously written that the Board must increase its underfunding of the pension to the tune of $84,000 for several years this Board is definitely demonstrating an acute business acumen to lose vasts amounts of money.

How much does the Board get paid between meetings, trips, and seminars? The Board of the Hazleton City Authority has alot to answer for when it decided that its personal interests supercede the interests of the citizens whom they represent.

To Ms. Cuozzo's comment that appears on the website of the Standard Speaker article this court case will factually prove that her statements are incorrect.

The basic question is, however, does the Township have the authority under the law and the contract documents (the Trust Indenture and Lease) to order the Authority it created to dissolve itself.

Section 14 and Section 18A of the Act (Sections 14 and 18A) govern the termination of the Authority. Section 14 has been held to authorize the Township, as the creating municipality, to take over the Project pursuant to Section 18A after the impediments of Section 14 in the form of agreements, claims and outstanding debt obligations (the Bonds) are discharged. Forward Twp. Sanitary Sewage Authority v. Twp. of Forward, 654 A.2d 170 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995).4 Section 18A authorizes the Township to acquire a project after assuming all obligations related thereto. The Township created the Authority and, under Section 18(A) of the Act, it has the power, without the consent of the Authority, to order the Authority to comply with the Township’s Resolutions to pay off all Bonds and debt, convey all of its assets and dissolve the Authority.

To all those attending the Virginia Tech vs. Tennesse game tonight at the Georgia Dome, please don't drink the water. Word is it is unsafe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Michale T. Toole Enters Guilty Plea In Federal Court

According to the Times Leader's Terri Morgan-Besecker Judge Michael T. Toole has entered a guilty plea to two charges in federal court yesterday.

A subdued Toole appeared before U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy to plead guilty to charges of honest services fraud and tax evasion.

“Your honor, with the strength of my faith and the support of my family and friends, I take complete responsibility for what I’ve done and will accept whatever punishment the court imposes,” Toole told Conaboy during the 45-minute hearing.

What Toole did, prosecutors say, is “corruptly abuse” his position as a judge to improperly influence an uninsured motorist arbitration case that came before him in 2006. In a separate matter, he also failed to report on his income taxes a $30,000 fee he received from another attorney.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not identified the attorneys involved in either case. Details contained in the charges indicate the attorney involved in the arbitration case was Harry Cardoni of Kingston. A source familiar with the probe identified the attorney who paid the referral fee as Robert Powell of Butler Township.

Hazleton City Authority Water Department Hearing- Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

SOP downloaded a Fact Finder report from the Commomwealth computer system detailing a hearing held before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on November 4, 2009. There are some interesting pieces of information that should be shared with the public.

Diane S. Mulligan is listed as the Fact Finder. Joseph B. Pozza III represents the Union and John Audi, Esq represented the Authority. The PLRB appointed Mulligan as Fact Finder in a letter dated October 9, 2009.

Contract issues centered on wages, contract term, health insurance, pension, short term disability, longevity pay, and hours for the office staff.

A discussion of the wage issue revealed a position of the union that should be of concern to rate payers."The Union also alleged that the Authority was lax in collecting deliquent accounts and could realize a substantial sum if it aggresively pursued these non-payers."

The report went on to discuss that Hazleton water department laborers were currently earning $18.87 per hour and meter repairman $19.29 per hour. The union tried to argue that stimulus monies received by the Authority would free up money for wage increase. Obviously that was not the intent of stimulus money. A recommendation was made to increase the hourly rates by $.49, $.54, and $.60. The result would be a 8.6% increase over the three years for laborers. Considering that the cost of living is flat the finding appears to be generous.

The contract term recommendation was for three years.

The issue of medical premiums and cost sharing by the employees is eye-opening. According to the report the current family premium at the Authority is $16,728/year. At State Health Facts the average family premium for employer-based health insurance in Pennsylvania is $12,339.00 per employee, a 35.5% difference. The fact finder felt it was unfair for the employees to bear the cost of further premium increases resulting in no wage increase at all. Therefore authority employees will pay no premium share the first year, 2% in the second year, 3% in the third year with the cost of premium share capped at 2% of base pay.

On the issue of pension the story represents what is happening throughout the Commonwealth. "The Authority is obligated to make an annual contribution to the employees' pension plan, and has fulfilled this obligation in the past. Althought it invested in AAA bonds(considered a safe investment), the Authority lost money and will have to pay an extra $84,000 per year over the next several years in order to keep the pension fund actuarially sound. This limits the ability to meet the employees' salary and benefit demands. The union was seeking an increase of $6.00 in the first year and $2.00 in each of the next years of the agreement. The fact finder recommended $.50 in each of the three years.

The overtime issue really can't support statements that the Board has been doing an outstanding job of managing the water department.

"The Authortiy agrees that it has been past practice to pay an employee who has not been called when it was his turn to work overtime. This practice results in a double payment- one for the employee who did work and one for the employee who should have worked if he was called in the proper order from the list." This matter is in arbitration at the present time. Authority rate payers evidently have been effectively paying for "ghost employees". Now that is an outstanding management practice.

It is unknown whether the recommendations were accepted by both sides.
Clearly there are some mismanagement issues that should be of importance to rate payers.

UPDATE: L&I has a link to a report that states the HCA accepted the recommendations but the United Steel Workers Union rejected them.

In addition this link will show that customers in Wilkes Barre are handled by a private firm, Pennsylvania American Water. This link will show the acquisiton by American Water Works in 1996 that was hailed as the biggest asset sale in the history of the water utility business in the United States.

The American Water Works Company has acquired waterworks, reservoirs and land from Pennsylvania Enterprises Inc. for $409 million, the two companies said yesterday. With the purchase, an American Water Works subsidiary, the Pennsylvania-American Water Company, will supply another 400,000 people in northeastern Pennsylvania, including the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The purchase includes 10 water treatment plants, 36 reservoirs and about 8,000 acres of watershed land. American Water Works, based in Voorhees, N.J., said it was the biggest asset sale in the history of the water utility business in the United States.

Eachus Memo Surfaces Amid Allegations

SOP has obtained an email sent by Todd Eachus to Democratic Members and Legislative Assistants on November 09, 2009 at 13:37:58. Its reproduction is below.

From: Eachus, Todd
To: Dem Members & Legis Assts
Cc: Stalnecker, Angela; Kuller,Laura, Baughman, Vicki
Sent: Mon Nov 09 13:37:58 2009
Subject: Post-Budget Outreach Information

Dear Colleague:

Under my direction, the Office of Member Services recently compiled extensive budget reports specifically tailored to selected individual legislative districts. These reports detail the impact of the 2009-10 budget and were intended to serve as the foundation for Members' budget outreach with constituents and press. Whether it's a town hall meeting, a newsletter or a telephone conversation with a constituent, this information can be used to demonstrate how much better Pennsylvania fared as a result of our refusal to settle for the provisions of the Republican plan, S. B. 850.

The documents are proving to be a valuable resource to our Members, so with that in mind, I write to offer this service to you. Upon your request, I will instruct the Office of Member Services to compile a budget report for your legislative district which would include general talking points, detailed data, and a document delineating several outreach options that the Legislative Communications Office can help you execute.

If you are interested in having this information tailored for your legislative districted, please contact Angela Stalnecker in my office, at or (717) 787-2229, and we'll get to work for you.

As always I will continue to do all I can to ensure that you receive the best possible service from our staff.



Let's roll back the emails to a different time about the "incumbent protection program" put together by Eachus et al found on

Attachment 11
Document and mails shoping John Paul Jones performing House Democratic Campaign Committee campaign work on state time using state resources in 2007 under Todd Eachus' supervision.

From: Jones, John Paul
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 11:28 AM

To: Manzo, Michael; Cott, Brett
Cc: Manzo, Rachel

Subject: Incumbent Protection Meetings.



3. To notify key caucus staff and leadership of progress (or lack thereof) by individual incumbents with regards to incumbent protection.

4. To share information across offices in order to constantly improve incumbent protection activities.

Meeting Composition:
Chairs- Rep. Eachus,
Mike Manzo,
Brett Cott

Leader's office- Paul Parsells
LCO- Chris Zarek
LRO- Jen Brubaker
OMS- Eric Webb

Approp.- Miriam Fox

ODA- Scott Casper

Policy Com-Rachel Manzo

Secretary-Mike Risch

Comm.-Barb Grill & Bill Patton

HDCC- Dan W. & Jess W.

F/R- Erin Madison

Misc. Staff- Jon Price, Bob Caton

Fast forward to the email "Under my direction, the Office of Member Services recently compiled extensive budget reports specifically tailored to selected individual legislative districts." Sure sounds like incumbent protection paid for by Pennsylvania taxpayers. Even in the Bonusgate climate it seems political addiction to certain behaviors are unstoppable.

Why should legislative staff be assigned to these tasks, and why should these members have to ask the leader's office for information? How can the leader justify using legislative staff when the Pennsylvania budget is still not finished?

This program smacks of the Members Incentive Program that had to go thorugh Eachus in 2007.

interoffice memorandum

to: Todd Eachus

from: Andrea Berringer

subject: INcnetive program

date: 4/2/2007

cc: JOhn JOnes

HDCC (MIP) Member Incentive Program

The most effective way to bring in money to HDCC is through call time. But call time is exactly that. TIME and time is a tough commodity here in Harrisburg. That is why it is going to take a rotation of members through HDCC's door to call on the organizations behalf to really build its bank. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get our members to offer up their valuable time to us, especially the ones who do not use services from HDCC or receive assistance at election time or during a primary situation. This is why I am proposeing the HDCC (MIP) Member Incentive Program.

HDCC will supply lists of potential donors to the Campaign Committee from the general area that the member is from. The members will use HDCC to make the calls, handle all follow up, attribution of donations to its respective caller and thank you letters. For their time, the Member will receive 30% of the donations they raise in the form of a contribution to their campaign committee sent monthly. This program will have a cap at $75,0000 total raised ($50,000 to HDCC and $25,000 to the member.)

After the Member has raised their commitment to HDCC, and wants to continue to fundraise for his/herself, HDCC will continue to keep with lists. HDCC will supply Members with lists of democratic donors that are micro-targeted to their particula districts/committees/issues/etc/ but all follow up, phone lines, and staffing from then on will be theirs. But because HDCC will still be supplying ALL of the prospects, we will be asking for 10%. (*Mind you this alleviates countless man hours of research, data entry, and cross referencing.)

This program will be offered to the Members who are in seats that often have primary challengers first; then rolled out to our most vulnerable seats and outward to all as soon as HDCC has the finance staff to support this.

John Jones
Representative Todd Eachus

I guess we are back to Brad Bumsted's opinion on where does one draw the line between legislative and campaign work. It should start when all legislative efforts are focused on Pennsylvania and not the battle between Democrats and Republicans.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eachus Aide Responds To Lentz's Call For Eachus Removal

As an update to its earlier story posted a Eachus aide, Brett Marcy's response to State Rep. Bryan Lentz' call for Eachus's removal from the leader of the House Democratic Caucus.

A day after state Representative Bryan Lentz (D-Delaware) called for the removal of Todd Eachus, the House Majority Leader’s spokesman wasn’t swiping back at Lentz.

“Representative Eachus did receive Representative Lentz’s letter, and he will respond to him in the near future,” Eachus spokesman Brett Marcy said Tuesday. “Representative Eachus and the entire leadership team try to be inclusive and responsive to all members in the diverse Democratic Caucus. That means we’re going to continue to focus on the important legislation that we’ll be moving forward this year.” the plot thickens. Eachus has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

The hardest thing a man has to live with about war isn't the things he does that he was ordered to do. It's the things he does that he wasn't ordered to.- Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino

The place should not honor the man, but the man the place.- Agesilus

Maybe in Eachus's case it is the thing he isn't doing that he should do.

Chris Paige Is Not Fit For Any Office

In his latest blog post Chris Paige makes some outlandish claims that lack any merit whatsoever. His lack of evidence for what he writes points to a flawed thought process worth noting. Here is part of his post:

Barletta & the Water Authority

Lou Barletta's fans never tire of telling me how brilliant he is, which begs the following question: why is he mismanaging his proposed sale of Hazleton's Water Authority? Apparently, the Water Authority has not even prepared a bidder's packet, and it's impossible to find the Authority's budget figures online - which means fewer firms will bid, which means the City will receive less than it should. Since we have to assume that Lou Barletta is too smart to have done this by accident, we must ask why is he trying to steer the authority to his preferred bidders at a below market price? Quite simply, either Barletta's not very good at his job (which is maximizing the price he'll get for selling the Authority) or he's corrupt - so, Barletta fans, which is it?

Mr. Paige let's examine each allegation.

First, there is no Hazleton Water Authority. Get to know the district.

Mayor Barletta proposed the sale of the water department which is part of the Hazleton City Authority(HCA) as a possible solution to Hazleton's financial crisis. The Hazleton City Authority also has an industrial division.

There is no bidder's packet because no formal action was taken to seek that sale of the water department by the HCA board or Hazleton City Council which would be among the first steps in such an endeavour.

The City of Hazleton has not issued any RFP's for the exact same reason although, if the process of selling the water department of the HCA is approved, it will be among the steps taken by the City.

The Hazleton City Authority does not post its information online and that issue is a problem for its rate payers seeking information about its operations.

Tax exemption is only one parameter of an intricate business model. Since you are in the financial world it is a fair shot to say your thoughts online give pause to your experience in those matters.

Since there has been no formal action and no RFP's how can you, Mr. Paige, make the accusation that Barletta is "steering" the authority to preferred bidders? There is no bid package, there is no RFP, THERE ARE NO BIDDERS. No one is steering anyone to anybody.

Who will respond to an RFP, if and when it happens, is anyone's guess at this point. How can one mismanage something when it hasn't happened yet?

The corruption question borders on defamation. If this treatise is your best shot you need to regroup. You seem to be better at writing fiction that speaking about the facts.

Lentz Calls For Eachus Removal is reporting that State Representative Bryan Lentz of Delaware County is calling for the removal of House Majority Leader Todd Eachus as head of the Democratic Caucus.

State Representative Bryan Lentz (D-Delaware) on Monday said it was time for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus to be removed as head of the Democratic Caucus, clearly positioning himself in the reform wing of the party as he seeks election to Congress next year.

A statement released by Lentz’s Harrisburg office and an accompanying letter his office said was sent to Eachus were both strongly worded in skipping past a request for resignation and going straight to removal.

“My experiences as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division tell me that there are times when an entire chain of command must be relieved in order to restore confidence in an organization,” Lentz said. “That time has come for the House Democratic caucus. A cloud of corruption has hung over our Commonwealth for too long and we must take clear affirmative steps to regain the confidence of the citizens of Pennsylvania.

“The election of new leaders will show the people that our caucus is capable of self-correction and serious about cleaning up Harrisburg,” he added.

Court Is For The Birds According To Allegations Against Ciavarella

A lawsuit filed against disgraced former judge Mark Ciavarella alleges he sentenced a juvenile, Raul Clark, to six months of detention based on the number of birds perched on a ledge at the Luzerne County Courthouse. The details are in this article which appeared in today's Standard Speaker written by Michael Sisak.

"Ciavarella's cavalier conduct demonstrates that what took place before him was nothing more than theater for (his) amusement," Clark's attorneys said.


From Lulac Political Letter

The Times Leader is reporting that former vo-tech official Jeffrey Piazza has plead guilty to accepting a kickback from a contractor in federal court before U.S. District Judge James Munley.

Federal prosecutors say Piazza accepted kickbacks from the contractor, who inflated the price of equipment sold to the center to cover the payments.

Obama Love- A New Era In Salesmanship

In this Opinion piece from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the author seems to rebute Rich L. Connor's piece about the liberal press he published in his own paper the Times Leader. Big Dan gives his opinion on the subject as well.

2009: Year of Obama love
Buzz up!By L. Brent Bozell III Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 might be classified as the year Barack Obama came down to Earth. The latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that 47 percent approve of the job Obama is doing and 46 percent disapprove. Those are not exactly messiah numbers.

And that's the big difference between the public and the press. The media do believe he's God.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek summed it all up. On "Hardball" in June, Thomas explained that while Ronald Reagan was just a "parochial" and "provincial" president, Obama can lead the whole world: "In a way, Obama is standing above the country, above the world. He's sort of God. He's going to bring all different sides together."

After the inevitable furor, Thomas said he "wasn't being literal."

No one thought Thomas was being literal. It would suggest the people at Newsweek believe in God. But all the verbiage surrounding this quote suggested Thomas thought Obama could lead the world into a calm new era. "He's the teacher. He is going to say, 'Now, children, stop fighting and quarreling with each other.' And he has a kind of a moral authority that he can do that."

That's obviously not true in America, where conservatives continue to fight fiercely against his socialist agenda. It's also obviously not true abroad because the world didn't exactly surrender to Obama's "moral authority" at Copenhagen. Many Third World countries still hate America's guts -- and always will.

The Thomas literary levitation act won him "The Audacity of Dopes Award" for the wackiest media analysis of the year, one of the 17 winning citations in the Best Notable Quotables of 2009, as voted by a panel of 48 expert judges from conservative journalism, academia and talk radio. Ardor for Obama dominated the entries.

The year started with an intensely passionate winter of love around Obama's inauguration. ABC's Bill Weir captured the "Coronation of the Messiah Award" when he proclaimed, "Never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity."

ABC's Terry Moran took the "Barry's Big Brain Award" for journalists bedazzled by Obama's brilliance when Moran asserted, "Barack Obama is the first president since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office. I mean, from visionary leader of a giant movement, now he's got an executive position that he has to perform in, in a way."

Perhaps the media will have to stick with celebrating Obama's legendary coolness. "The Obamagasm Award for Seeing Coolness in Everything Obama Does" went to the fan club known as MSNBC. John Harwood of CNBC almost glowed when Obama successfully swatted a fly right in front of him during a TV interview. "It was a, you know, Dirty Harry 'make-my-day' moment." As if Clint Eastwood would glare at a fly and ask if he felt lucky.

Obama wasn't the only liberal politician to receive deep bows from the media. The death of Sen. Ted Kennedy prompted The Huffington Post to publish what the judges' panel found to be the Quote of the Year.

Melissa Lafsky, deputy Web editor of Discover magazine, revisited the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, killed when Kennedy drove his car off Dyke Bridge in 1969 and left her behind. "Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan," Lafsky wrote. "We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history."

What did Kopechne think? Unfortunately, Lafsky attempted an answer by wondering "what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows -- maybe she'd have thought it was worth it."

The left's infatuation with Kennedy is so complete that this journalist was actually and very seriously suggesting that perhaps Kopechne would have wanted to be killed by Kennedy if she knew how her drowning death propelled his career. Never mind the fact that had it not been for her death, he'd probably have been elected president, rendering her vision utterly illogical.

The liberal mind is a mysterious place. It's a terrible thing to watch as it wastes.

L. Brent Bozell III is president of the Media Research Center.

The Year In Review From the Tribune_Review

The year according to Bish.

HOPE- Have Others Pay Everything

Janet Napolitano- Quit Being A Huge Embarassment To The U.S.

In the wake of the latest terrorist incident Janet Napolitano proved she is the wrong person to head Homeland Security. Her flip-flop statements signal two things. One, the flow of information up the ladder is seriously flawed. Two, once the information reaches the top nothing but garbage comes out of the mouth.

Karl Rove was on Hannity last night outlining how this administration blew a chance to interrogate the suspect. Instead they allowed him to lawyer up and shut up as a criminal and not treated as a terrorist. We lost the opportunity to find out who trained him, who sent him, who funded him, who fed him, and who he answered to.

Right now Fox News is reporting there were 17 full body scanners at Amsterdam airport. An Israeli spokesperson stated he would not use full body scanners on Muslims due to their faith. He made a compelling and convincing argument that Muslim distrust of the western world would only be heightened if goverment mandates a full body scan of their women and children.

This mess points to a systemic failure in our security policies. Profiling behavior, not skin color or faith, is a much better approach than scanning. Terrorists come in all forms and styles. Behaviors will be easier to spot.

Here is an editorial from the Tribune Review out of Pittsburgh.

Flight 253: Failure
Buzz up!Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Welcome back to reality, America. Nasty people seeking to do nasty things in any nasty way possible remain alive and despicably well as we put the wraps on 2009.

Witness the passenger-foiled attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day. But witness first the horrible failure of a very expensive worldwide security apparatus to keep Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab off Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The suspect was on terrorist watch lists in the United States and Great Britain. He was refused a student entry visa to the U.K. in May after applying for a bogus college course. He paid cash for his Northwest ticket. He had no checked baggage. There's a report that he didn't even have a passport. The explosive he carried in his underwear is supposed to be easily detectable through screening. The terrorist's father even warned authorities that his son was a risk.

Thus, it was outrageous when Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano went on TV on Sunday to claim "the system worked." She was in full retreat Monday, claiming her contention was taken out of context. Hardly. Her boss, President Obama, has ordered a full review of security measures. He should fire Ms. Napolitano as a start.

The Flight 253 debacle is a sobering reminder that the world remains a dangerous place requiring eternal vigilance. The people know that. Sadly, government doesn't.

Politics aside, let's get the system fixed to restore the faith of the travelers. If government can accomplish that goal then maybe, just maybe, politics on both sides can cease fire and get on with the business of putting people back to work so our economy will recover.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Investigation Stinks of Political Football Over Gaming

The TimesTribune wrote an editorial about the cost of government elections. You can read the contents at that link.

What I found intriguing is that phrase what a small world it is. From that opinion piece.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 18 the Allegheny County district attorney's office raided a district office of state Sen. Jane Orie, Judge Orie Melvin's sister and the third-ranking Republican in the Senate. They seized computers and records in furtherance of an Allegheny County grand jury investigation that began Nov. 2, one day before the general election. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an intern in Ms. Orie's district office complained to prosecutors that the legislative office had engaged in campaign work for Judge Orie Melvin.

Use of publicly paid legislative staffers and resources for political work is the basis of a statewide investigation being conducted by the state attorney general's office. The Allegheny County inquiry is separate.

Ms. Orie's lawyer cried foul, noting that the Allegheny County district attorney is Stephen Zappalla Jr. Mr. Zappalla is a Democrat and the son of former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Zappalla, who has gone to work for the casino industry since his retirement as a judge. Ms. Orie, in the Senate, has been a vocal opponent of gambling expansion.

Stephen Zappalla is brother of Gregory Zappalla, former partner with Robert Powell and current owner of Gladstone Partners and PA ChildCare. Imagine if Stephen was District Attorney for Luzerne County? I guess the millions paid to the judges came only out of Powell's half of the profits.

Fannie and Freddie's End Run With Our Money

Does anyone in this administration have a clue?

Read the article about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Are you getting taken care of by the goverment like this??

Did Anybody Tell Obama It's Okay To Spend Stimulus Money

So exactly how much stimulus money has been spent through September, 2009?

Thanks to the folks over at ProPublica you can view it here. We were sold that we needed this stimulus to get our country back on the right track and only 26.28% has been spent???!! WTF.

I guess Obama et al want to use the money NEXT YEAR to by an election. Remember Paul Kanjorski's words "We really in this last election — when I say we, the Democrats — I think pushed it as far as we can, the envelope. Didn't say it, but we implied it — that we, if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war,” Kanjorski said in the video.

“Now anybody who is a good student of government would know that wasn't true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts — and people ate it up."

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said he thinks there’s a “reasonably high chance” the economy will contract in the second half of next year.

On the "This Week" Roundtable, Krugman said he agreed with the assessment of fellow Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz that there is a significant chance the economy will shrink in 2010.

“I would go with Joseph Stiglitz,” Krugman added, “I’m really worried about the second half.”

The leader who stays in the rear, takes it in the rear- Mr. Hertz, movie Shoot Em Up

Toole, Piazza Enter Pleas

Acoording to the Times Leader Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole and former school employee Jeffrey Piazza are scheduled to enter guilty pleas to corruption charges in federal court in Scranton today.
Toole is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy at 11 a.m. while Piazza will enter his plea before U.S. District Judge James Munley at 10 a.m.

Toole, 49, of Wilkes-Barre, was charged on Dec. 2 with honest services fraud and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors say Toole improperly communicated with an attorney to determine who that attorney wished to have appointed as an arbitrator in an uninsured motorist insurance case. The attorney had permitted Toole to use the attorney’s beach house in New Jersey without charge, prosecutors say.

In a separate matter, Toole was also charged with failing to report on his income tax return $30,000 he received for referring a case to another attorney.

Prosecutors have not identified either attorney. Information contained in the charges indicates the attorney involved in the uninsured motorist case is Harry Cardoni of Kingston. A source familiar with the corruption probe identified attorney Robert Powell of Butler Township as the person who paid Toole the referral fee.

Between Attorney General Tom Corbett's investigation and the probe of the Luzerne County courthouse 50 public employees have been charged with a mirad of charges all pointing to corruption of obligation necessary for public trust. Yonki may feel taxes are the price we pay for a free and open society. All of these people were paid with taxpayer money. Is this the free and open society he was referring to?

Seniors Are Losing Lots In Healthcare Reform

In typical Obama administration fashion some hidden key features of the healthcare reform bill will rob seniors of their Medicare Advantage coverage.

“I get too upset over it,” said 71-year-old Charlotte Casey of Miramar, Fla., who is on an Advantage plan through Coventry Health Care. “The seniors are going to get the worst of it.”

Read more here.

Hoax and change, the Obama pledge.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In The Blogosphere We Should Look Out For Each Other

I noticed that The Pissed Off Republican and A Big Fat Slob have not posted in some time. I know that blogs disappear but is everything okay with the owner? Let's make it a practice to look out for each other regardless of content.

Eachus Website Down

Today I was told that the blinds to Representative Todd Eachus's office in downtown Hazleton were fully closed to the ground. To the knowledge of the person who relayed the story this person has never noticed the blinds fully drawn.

It may have been an irrelevant piece of information if it wasn't for the fact the is down. You can only use the cache feature of a Google search to bring up the contents of the site. According to the cache feature it was able to retrieve the data as of December 8, 2009. Given that he is House Majority Leader for the House of Representatives for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it raises extreme curiosity.

In the cache feature a statement claims the website is paid for by the Pennsylvania HDCC. A search of Pennsylvania's Campaign Finance site is here for the contributions to his committee from 01/01/2000 to date. Can you find the contribution?

Mr. Eachus's shortness with the media has been well documented. He refuses to answer questions or offer any explanations for the contents of recent media reports. He has not been charged in any matters to date.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Have Yourself A Very Liberal Christmas Filled With Religion And Manger Scenes

To Anon who stated McGruff is a "frustrated Republican" I dedicate this song to my liberal counterpart.

Rendell Wants Candidates To Be "Factual"

Ed Rendell confirms he will play an active role in next year's gubernatorial selection process.

Rendell, who turns 66 on Jan. 5, also made clear that he expects to be involved in the gubernatorial campaign.

He said he plans to send a letter to all gubernatorial candidates, offering to provide background briefings on the intricacies of the state budget and any issues in which they are interested.

"I hope they'll avail themselves of it," he said. If they make factual errors about the administration on the campaign trail, "I will correct them, Democrats and Republicans alike."

Who the heck is going to correct Rendell's factual errors? What a pompous ass statement.

Healthcare Reform- Demonstration of Legislators For Sale

Pork, Pork, Pork. Amid the widely described deals given to specific states in the healthcare reform bill Attorney Generals from several states are probing whether those deals were constitutional. Harry Reid has tried his hand at damage control over the sweetheart deals/bribes contained in the measure needed to secure 60 votes but failed miserably.

Thanks to the Gateway Pundit here is a sampling of the bribery wholly embraced by Democratic Senators:

** Eliminating or reducing the Medicaid unfunded mandate on Nebraska, Vermont, and Massachusetts (starting on page 96, line 9)
** Exempting certain health insurance companies in Nebraska and Michigan from taxes and fees (starting on page 367, line 6)
** Providing automatic Medicare coverage for anyone living in Libby, Montana (starting on page 194 – section 10323)
** Earmarking $100 million for a “Health Care Facility” reportedly in Connecticut (starting on page 328)
** Giving special treatment to Hawaii’s Disproportionate Share Hospitals (starting on page 101, line 6)
** Boosting reimbursement rates for certain hospitals in Michigan and Connecticut (starting on page 174 – section 10317)
** Mandating special treatment for hospitals in “Frontier” States like Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming (starting on page 208 — Sec 10324)

Below are highlights of the new special deals or earmarks bartered away to win Senate votes:

Ø The bill contains unfunded mandates to states through the expansion of Medicaid but this time with new special treatment for the states of Nebraska, Vermont, and Massachusetts. These states will receive Federal Matching Assistance Percentages (FMAP) bonuses such that:

1. Nebraska will receive 100% FMAP for newly eligibles indefinitely, making it the only state where the federal government will pay for all new enrollees. CBO estimated the cost to the federal government (additional funds to Nebraska) would be $100 million, which may look small compared to the other deals negotiated, yet over the long-term will cost far more, since funding continues indefinitely.

2. Vermont will receive a 2.2% FMAP increase for 6 years for their entire program, thus receiving an additional $600 million over ten years.

3. Massachusetts will receive a 0.5% FMAP increase for three years for the entire program, thus receiving an additional $500 million over ten years.

Ø Despite $120 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts, the Manager’s Amendment found a way for Florida residents, as well as some individuals in Pennsylvania and New York, and potentially Oregon, to be grandfathered out of receiving the cuts.

Ø Dorgan and Conrad’s “protections for frontier states” provision would, starting in 2011, establish a 1.0 hospital wage index and geographic practice expense floors for hospitals and physicians located in states where at least 50% of the counties in the state are “frontier”. Not surprisingly, states that qualify and benefit from the provision are Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

Was Your Democrat Senator Too Stupid To Get a Bribe? Start calling Casey and Specter to find out why Pennsylvania isn't special? While you're at it ask Casey how he voted yes on this bill with his pro-life stance. Guess everything is for sale. Rahm Emanuel's work at his finest.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More on Grand Jury Testimony Pointing At Eachus

While Ed Rendell was busy doing damage control urging caution on the media reports surrounding Grand Jury testimony against Todd Eachus reporters Tom Infield and Mario F. Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer were enlightening the public with a closer "Peek Inside the Bonusgate Investigation".

As one of them later testified to a grand jury, staff members of Rep. Todd Eachus, then the Democratic policy chairman, became worried about the lawfulness of political work they were doing on state time.

John Paul Jones recalled fellow staff member Rachel Manzo's saying that maybe they needed to be a little more discreet.

Thus, Jones said, he stopped doing political chores in Eachus' office on the first floor of the Capitol, where there were "a lot of eyes."

He moved to an empty fifth-floor office.

At the same time, Eachus' staffers decided to stop using House e-mail for political purposes. Instead, Jones said, they used Yahoo Messenger "to communicate back and forth."

"In other words," a prosecutor asked Jones, "what you're saying is, 'We're going to keep on doing the wrongdoing, but we're going to have to hide it better.' "

"Exactly," Jones replied.
It also suggests how power went to the head of at least one leader. The snippets reveal imperial tendencies of former House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese - charged last week in the state attorney general's Bonusgate investigation - who, witnesses said, required his House staffers to attend to his personal care, even sending one state aide to the drugstore for peanuts, dishwashing detergent, and condoms.

The testimony appears to implicate Eachus (D., Luzerne), now the House majority leader, in some of the same political activity at taxpayer expense that has resulted in criminal charges against 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans since July 2008. (The first Bonusgate trial ended this month with the acquittal of former Rep. Sean Ramaley, a Western Pennsylvania Democrat, on theft and other charges.)

Eachus has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the investigation, which is being overseen by Attorney General Tom Corbett, who is a Republican candidate for governor.

But grand jury witnesses said Eachus encouraged some on his House staff to do political work on state time.

Jones said Eachus himself placed fund-raising calls from his Capitol office. His staff would give him names of people likely to give $5,000 or $10,000 to either the House Democratic Campaign Committee or to Eachus' own political account, Jones testified.

Though he admitted doing political work during "95 percent" of work hours at some points in 2007, Jones has not been charged with any crime. While on Eachus' policy committee staff, he also served as executive director of the House Democrats' campaign committee.

He said that Eachus gave him a cover story: He was to say that his job was investigating alternative energy issues for the committee.

"Your job is to study alternative energy, correct?" a prosecutor asked Jones.

"Absolutely," Jones replied. "Yes."

"But you didn't study alternative energy?"


"Todd Eachus and the rest of his staff knew that, correct?"


Eachus rose to power at amazing speed. What he didn't learn in life is that the more meteoric the rise the harder and faster the fall.

Eachus's demeanor is more his problem right now than the implications. From stories out of Harrisburg people in his own caucus more than despise him. His arrogance walks about ten feet in front of him. He rules by intimidation, not humility. If you have a disagreement with him he cleaves the relationship. If Eachus was more personable with those working by his side the troops would rally around him rather than relish in his purported role in Bonusgate.

The current rumor d'jor is that Rendell has asked Corbett to withhold any charges until the table game legislation is finished. Again, just rumor and speculation. Eachus has not been charged.

What SOP finds interesting is that Corbett gave Eachus the opportunity to testify before the Grand Jury and, to date, Eachus has not taken advantage of that request. Would that speak to cooperation in the investigation? You be the judge.

There is an oddity not being noticed. Corbett has been hammered for conducting the Bonusgate investigation while seeking the office of Governor. Yet, Auditor General Jack Wagner can issue statements from his office against Lou Barletta while he is running for governor but it goes unnoticed.

Eachus urged AG Tom Corbett to step down while running for governor but you don't hear his cry for the same by Jack Wagner, Democrat.

BTW is down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eachus John Paul Jones Grand Jury Testitmony

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Amazing How Much State Workers Time Spent On Campaigns
It is amazing the amount of time documented in AG Corbett's Bonusgate investigation that Pennsylvania legislative employees spent on campagin work. AG Corbett once stated "It would shock the conscience" and he wasn't far off.

While I can understand Michael Veon's position that the investigation appears partisan and selective the reality is that there is a very active investigation continuing. If one choses the endpoint as today Veon would appear to be correct but the truth is that the endpoint is not today. Unfortunately like a tournament his "team" made it to the plate first so "elimination" occured early in the round.

There is a part of me that likes this guy but can't explain it. Yes, he may have gone astray but, in truth, after reviewing his documentation for Motion For Dismissal-Selective Prosecution in person, AG Corbett would have to arrest a significant percentage of the legislature and its employees for the same actions.

Veon should take a lesson from the Judge Eugene Kosik. Unless he really believes he will prevail against the charges against him the law of self preservation should set in. He needs to show remorse and take responsibility for his own actions. In time each participant will meet their fate and have the opportunity to do the same.

It is time to resume the journalistic chronicle of the public record with regards to actions by Todd Eachus and staffers under his direction that appear to speak for themselves and the Bonusgate affair. Keep in mind that previous posts were from January. These start in May so the record indicates that at no time were these actions addressed as wrong.

From: Eric Buxton [mailto: govercom email address]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 2:32 PM
To: Jones, John Paul
Subject: Re:

sure manm, let me know what time

Jones, John Paul wrote:

can we meet on Friday to go over hdcc website...I have some text changes, etc.

John Jones
Rep. Todd Eachus

From: Eric Buxton [mailto: govercom email address]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 5:21 PM
To: Jones, John Paul
Subject: Re:


Jones, John Paul wrote:

11 Am

From: Eric Buxton [mailto: govercom email address]
Sent: Tue, May 15 13:30:53 2007
To: Jones, John Paul
Subject: Re:

does todd smoke cigars?

Jones, John Paul wrote:

todd's office

From: "Jones, John Paul" [mailto:]
To: ERic@......
Sent: 2007, 05.15 Tue, 13:43:07
Subject: Re:



Well, at least we know Mr. Eachus enjoys a fine cigar with its character and flavor. Ohhh yes there were a bunch of characters in this mess.

-----Original Message-----
From: Myers, Melissa
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 1:00PM
To: Jones, John Paul

Melissa Myers
Research Analyst
House Majority Policy Committee
Rep. Todd Eachus, Chairman

From: "Jones, John Paul" [mailto:]
To: Eric Buxton
Sent: 2007, 05.18 Fri, 13:00:29
Subject: Fw:

(By me- a .tif file with Eachus's name on it)


Attached is todd's signature

If you have been following carefully you will remember Todd Eachus's statement to the Times Leader about his knowledge of Rachel Manzo's invovlement. Read on.

From: Eric Buxton [mailto: govercom email address]
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 10:41 AM
To: Jones, John Paul
Subject: Re:

these are ready. they will need to creat their identity in VMail once they log in. password for all is (redacted by me for privacy)

Jones, John Paul wrote:


Can you set me up with some more email addresses please:


John Jones
Rep. Todd Eachus

From: "Jones, John Paul" [mailto:]
To: Eric Buxton
Sent: 2007, 02.09 Fri, 12:35:18
Subject: RE:


shit...forgot i need one more:

Eachus- "Anyone Who Has Created A Problem Should Face Justice."

In response to a WNEP reporter's inquiry that was Todd Eachus's statement. Well,Todd, you may just get your wish. CasablancaPA has made a case revolving around Todd Eachus's invovlement in Bonusgate for some time. Their latest post spells out a plea deal highlighted in the WNEP report between AG Tom Corbett and Rachel Manzo, a former Eachus employee.

They reference an Associated Press article written by Mark Scolforo filed from Harrisburg.

John Paul Jones, a $62,000-a-year legislative research specialist until December 2007, told the grand jury that Eachus, D-Luzerne, brought him onto the state payroll after the November 2006 election, which returned Democrats to the majority in the House, with a cover story about his legislative work.

"That was sort of like the code of, here's what I do, but really I was solely there as a political guy," Jones said.

Jones testified that Eachus told him he considered the General Assembly's capability to produce public service announcements a free tool to help incumbents get re-elected.

In a May 2008 grand jury appearance, Jones said that while he was working for the House Democratic Campaign Committee in the run-up to that pivotal 2006 election, he and another campaign committee employee worked closely with Eachus out of an office in the Capitol's East Wing.

He said they helped Eachus phone Democratic state representatives to pressure them either to donate to the campaign committee or promise to spend a certain amount on their own races.

"As Todd would often say, he wanted to spend what he called soft dollars, which were government dollars, on public service announcements so that we had to ultimately spend less hard campaign dollars," Jones testified.

Jones said that for a time he and two other legislative aides spent nearly all day on political matters, raising money and performing other campaign-related duties. A phone number could not be located for Jones.

An unidentified state prosecutor, in the grand jury transcript, asked Jones whether Eachus was "directing and encouraging" their campaign efforts.

"Oh, yeah, sure," Jones responded. "There were plenty of times where (an aide) and I would be in to make phone calls or to staff Todd so he could make fundraising phone calls out of his office."

SightsonPennsylvania did a "Legislator X" series outlining testimony from the Grand Jury. Eachus has refused to answer questions relative to testimony given by others in this investigation. Mr. Eachus is within the his legal rights to refuse to answer any and all allegations. All persons mention in Corbett's investigation are innocent until proven guilty. That is a premise that SOP will always support regardless of the subject matter. It is an inalienable right.

Is somebody's goose cooked? Guess we will have to wait for the pop-up timer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Island Of Misfits- Tony Phyrillas

More on this humor over at Tony Phyrillas' site.

Not In The Cards

Half way through the fiscal year, state budget still isn't finished

By Lowman S. Henry
Who would have thought that half-way through the state's fiscal year the budget would still not be a completed document?

Our "full time" Pennsylvania General Assembly took a big chunk of the last three months of the year off, presumably to rest after the epic 101-day budget stalemate. True to form, one of the highest paid legislatures in the nation departed the capitol on Christmas break leaving a major component of the 2009-2010 budget still unresolved.

To end the budget deadlock of last summer and fall the governor and the legislature resorted to sleight of hand and included in the revenue projections $200 million from a source that did not - and to this day does not - exist. That would be fees and tax revenue from table games at the casinos which now dot the landscape of Penn's Woods.

The theory was that soon after passage of the budget the General Assembly would pass legislation legalizing table gaming and the commonwealth would rake in a windfall of $200 million in licensing fees. To keep things temporarily balanced, the legislature held off on approving funding for state-related universities, leaving them in a state of continued uncertainty.

That might have worked if the legislature had stayed in town to finish the job. But it didn't. Legislative leaders immediately closed up shop and headed home on a six week vacation that extended into mid-November. After putting in nominal effort prior to Thanksgiving, the "full time" legislature again adjourned to eat turkey and hunt deer. The $200 million revenue hole persisted, and students continued to wait for their funding.

With turkey in their bellies and venison in their freezers lawmakers returned to session. The state House finally did pass a bill legalizing table gaming, and so did the Senate. One small snag though: the bills were not the same. All of this was just too much for House Speaker Keith McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who decided it was time to take a break to celebrate the holidays (Christmas having been banned from the public square).

And so here we are, six months - half way - into the fiscal year and still $200 million short of the funds needed to balance the state budget.
That, however, is only part of the problem. Setting aside the revenue component of legalizing table gaming, the casino industry in Pennsylvania has been beset by a multitude of problems including but not limited to corruption, financial malpractice, and the failure to even get a casino up and running in Philadelphia.

The initial law legalizing slots casinos was one of those typically Pennsylvania pieces of legislation that was passed under pressure from leadership and without the inclusion of needed safeguards. Worse, promised property tax relief fell woefully short of expectations as lawmakers siphoned off tax revenue generated by the casinos for pet projects.

The current effort to expand gambling to include table gaming is shaping up as a rerun. Neither version of the expansion bill addressed the many serious deficiencies of the initial law. If gambling is to be expanded, it only makes sense to remedy the problems that have become evident over the past few years. In particular, there must be more oversight by law enforcement agencies over the activities of the casinos and their operators.

Keeping in mind revenue from the legalization of table gaming is supposed to plug a budget hole, media reports indicate lawmakers are now trying to stick their pet projects into the legislation. This means massive new government spending for projects that didn't have enough support to get into the state budget. Thus a new pot of WAM - Walking Around Money - will have been created with the ultimate impact being to fund projects that further legislators' re-election chances rather than address the state's revenue shortfall.

This is the Pennsylvania legislature at its worst. State employees have been laid off, a school for veterans' children has been closed, libraries and museums are cutting hours; but lawmakers are still grabbing fistfuls of our tax dollars to achieve the most important goal of all - re-election. It is important to understand that not all legislators are acting in this manner. But all too many are, and they apparently are the ones in control of the process.

The bottom line: Pennsylvania still does not have a completed state budget. State employees had their Christmas, er, holidays, ruined by Governor Ed Rendell threatening to lay-off 1,000 of them if the legislature doesn't deal with the budget shortfall by early January.

They better hurry up and get busy; after all, the Groundhog Day break is just around the corner.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kanjorski Flip Flops On Tolling I-80

What a difference a year makes with Paul Kanjorski. After the fight for his political life in last year's election against Lou Barletta Kanjorski is working overtime to redo his image. But there is an old album by Frank Zappa, "You Are What You Is" featuring a song "Dumb All Over". Kanjorski can't be serious when it comes to his positionS on I-80 because he flip-flops rather than stay true to his conviction. He is pandering to the electorate.

8/3/07 Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski Released the Following Statement on the I-80 Toll Issue,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Gretchen M. Wintermantel
Aug. 3, 2007

"The real issue is how Pennsylvania should pay for its portion of the maintenance expenses for our roads and bridges. After much difficult negotiating, Governor Rendell and the Pennsylvania Legislature reached a compromise that would generate an average of $946 million annually over the next ten years to repair roads and bridges and support 73 public transit systems.

"It is incumbent upon opponents of this plan to offer a better alternative and thus far they have failed to do so. As a state legislator recently observed, the legislators thought tolling I-80 was a bad idea, but all ‘the others were worse.'

"Tolls and taxes are never popular, and I would prefer to find an alternative for funding Pennsylvania's highways without establishing tolls on I-80. However, I believe that the federal government should respect the decisions made by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

What a differnce a year and three months make.

12/17/09: Kanjorski, Carney, Dahlkemper, Thomson Strongly State Opposition to Tolling on I-80 in Meeting with Federal Highway Administration

"I am, and always have been, opposed to tolling on I-80, as it would negatively affect residents throughout Pennsylvania, but especially those in the Northeast," said Congressman Kanjorski. "We must invest in projects and policies that will benefit Pennsylvanians, and tolling on I-80 will do just the opposite.

Kanjorski is incapable of thinking, incapable of governing, and incapable of telling the truth. And Dumb All Over.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kanjorski Steals Barney Frank's Thunder

Paul Kanjorski has no shame when it comes to taking credit for another's work. Witness the latest press grab over the Wall Street Reform Bill.

Kanjorski Wrote Half of Legislation Including Amendment to Address Companies That Are "Too Big to Fail" and Prevent Future Bailouts

Now, there are Democrats in his district that believe what he says without questioning his statements. So let's help them out.

In this article by Damian Paletta and Robin Sidel of the Wall Street Journal the writers credit Barney Frank, not Paul Kanjorski, for authoring its provisions. The bill, written in large part by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, aims to fill gaps in the regulatory toolkit exposed by last year's crisis. It would give the government the power to break up even healthy financial companies if regulators believe they pose a threat to the financial system.

In fact Paul Kanjorski's name is mentioned at all. Amazing for a politician who claims to have written half the law.

Kanjorski Reneges On Real Reform

Last week Paul Kanjorski issued a press release touting his role in H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, which passed in the House by a vote of 223-202.

He makes the claim that his "too big to fail" amendment will empower Federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy. By ensuring that financial companies cannot become so big that their failure would pose a threat to economic stability, we will protect American taxpayers from future bailouts. By outlining clear and objective standards for regulators to examine financial companies, we will also reduce the level of risk their activities pose to our financial stability and our economy.

Not so fast Paul. Nakedcapitalism exposes the "trojan horse" in Kanjorski's amendment that protects the bank entities from breakup and thwarts the consumer protections Kanjorski wants credit for.

Two weeks ago as the Financial Reform Bill was wending its way through Congress, Paul Kanjorski emerged as the champion of breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions. After seeing trillions of dollars in taxpayer money go to backstopping, propping up and guaranteeing the liabilities of weak financial institutions, It looked like we were going to see some draconian action.

The Congressman got his way and the Kanjorski Amendment to the the Financial Stability Improvement Act passed late last week with a vote of 38-29. Congressman Kanjorski was satisfied with the result.

But, wait one minute. Is this really the holy grail of financial stability and improvement? Of course it isn’t. In fact, it makes things worse. On page 7 of the Kanjorski Amendment, there is an enormous loophole that virtually eliminates the ability of regulators to take prompt corrective action in seizing and shutting down a bankrupt financial institution.

Here’s what the bill actually says:

(h) JUDICIAL REVIEW.—For any plan required under this section, a financial company subject to stricter prudential standards may, not later than 30 days after receipt of the Council’s notice under subsection (e)(5), bring an action in the United States district court for the judicial district in which the home office of such company is located, or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, for an order requiring that the requirement for a mitigatory action be rescinded. Judicial review under this section shall be limited to the imposition of a mitigatory action. In reviewing the Council’s imposition of a mitigatory action, the court shall rescind or dismiss only those mitigatory actions it finds to be imposed in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

Translation: we the bankrupt financial institution can sue in court to stop our being shut down by regulators. Hello litigation. Bye bye, prompt corrective action.

This is a Trojan horse.

This tactic is not new to Kanjorski. He committed the same skewed representation of the Ney-Kanjorski "Responsible Lending Act" in 2005. Predtaory Lending Bill A Ruse, Consumer Groups Charge

The bill would preempt state laws proven effective at curbing abusive lending and replace them with a weak federal standard.

"The numerous loopholes in this bill show a lack of understanding of how predatory lending steals the home equity of thousands of American families every year," said Mark Pearce, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy and research guru.

Civil Rights and Consumer Advocates' Comments on Ney-Kanjorski Bill

Maude Hurd, President, ACORN: "The new Ney bill is still unacceptable. It would eliminate all state laws, including important limits on prepayment penalties that are in effect in more than 30 states.

Goldstein Statement: Ney-Kanjorski Would Gut State Laws, 9/7/05

This year Representatives Ney and Kanjorski have introduced a bill that claims to protect consumers, but in fact guts strong state laws, replacing them with a bill that fails to provide meaningful protections for homeowners and weakens an already inadequate federal law.

ACORN was against Kanjorski but supported him for reelection. What a dysfuntional organization.

Kanjorski reminds me of Wimpy. "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." That was Wimpy's way of securing a free lunch, something Kanjorski has been doing for years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Commentary By Karl Rove- The President Is No B+

My Democratic friends are so passionate when one mentions George Bush's name that this commentary should give pause and make them reflect on the necessity to watch all government officials whether they be Republican or Democrat.

Barack Obama has won a place in history with the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year: 49% approve and 46% disapprove of his job performance in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.

There are many factors that explain it, including weakness abroad, an unprecedented spending binge at home, and making a perfectly awful health-care plan his signature domestic initiative. But something else is happening.

Mr. Obama has not governed as the centrist, deficit-fighting, bipartisan consensus builder he promised to be. And his promise to embody a new kind of politics—free of finger-pointing, pettiness and spin—was a mirage. He has cheapened his office with needless attacks on his predecessor.

Consider Mr. Obama's comment in his interview this past Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" that the Bush administration made a mistake in speaking in "a triumphant sense about war."

This was a slap at every president who rallied the nation in dark moments, including Franklin D. Roosevelt ("With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph"); Woodrow Wilson ("Right is more precious than peace and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts"); and John F. Kennedy ("Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed . . . will be met by whatever action is needed").

This kind of attack gives Mr. Obama's words a slippery quality. For example, he voted for the bank rescue plan in September 2008 and praised it during the campaign. Yet on Dec. 8 at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Obama called it "flawed" and blamed "the last administration" for launching it "hastily."

Really? Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner designed it. If it was "flawed," why did Mr. Obama later nominate Mr. Bernanke to a second term as Fed chairman and make Mr. Geithner his Treasury secretary?

Mr. Obama also claimed at Brookings that he prevented "a second Great Depression" by confronting the financial crisis "largely without the help" of Republicans. Yet his own Treasury secretary suggests otherwise. In a Dec. 9 letter, Mr. Geithner admitted that since taking office, the Obama administration had "committed about $7 billion to banks, much of which went to small institutions." That compares to $240 billion the Bush administration lent banks. Does Mr. Obama really believe his additional $7 billion forestalled "the potential collapse of our financial system"?

Mr. Obama continued distorting the record in his "60 Minutes" interview Sunday when he blamed bankers for the financial crisis. They "caused the problem," he insisted before complaining, "I haven't seen a lot of shame on their part" and pledging to put "a regulatory system in place that prevents them from putting us in this kind of pickle again."

But as a freshman senator, Mr. Obama supported a threatened 2005 filibuster of a bill regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He doesn't show "a lot of shame" that he and other Fannie and Freddie defenders blocked "a regulatory system" that might have kept America from getting in such a bad pickle in the first place.

The president's rhetorical tricks don't end there. Mr. Obama also claimed his $787 billion stimulus package "helped us [stem] the panic and get the economy growing again." But 1.5 million more people are unemployed than he said there would be if nothing were done.

And as of yesterday, only $244 billion of the stimulus had been spent. Why was $787 billion needed when less than a third of that figure supposedly got the job done?

Mr. Obama also alleged on "60 Minutes" that health-care reform "will actually bring down the deficit" (which people clearly know it will not). He said his reform reduces "costs and premiums for American families and businesses" (though they will be higher than they would otherwise be). And he claimed 30 million more people will get coverage through "an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses" to purchase insurance (though 15 million of them are covered by being dumped into Medicaid and don't get private insurance).

Mr. Obama may actually believe it when he says, "I think that's a pretty darned good outcome" and congratulates himself that he could succeed where "seven presidents have tried . . . [and] seven presidents have failed."

But voters seem to have a different definition of success. And they are tiring of the president's blame shifting and distortions.

Mr. Obama may believe, as he told Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview, that he deserves a "solid B+" for his first year in office, but the American people beg to differ. A presidency that started with so much promise is receiving unprecedentedly low grades from the country that elected him. He's earned them.

Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).

Cap And Trade In Practice- Kanjorski and Union Workers Take Note

Cap and Trade in Practice
How to get paid for laying off workers.

Since Paul Kanjorski voted FOR Cap And Trade it is time to educate the public about its dangers. Did anyway tell Kanjo that the biggest energy industry in his district is COAL? Here are his comments on why he voted YES.

"By no means is this energy bill perfect, but today, refusing to act was not an option. We need to begin the process of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, creating clean energy jobs in America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Change in our energy economy will not happen overnight, but it is clear that in this situation, the positives outweigh the negatives. The University of Massachusetts estimates that 1.7 million jobs will be created by transitioning to a clean energy economy.

"I deeply understand the real concerns regarding the additional costs for consumers and businesses that are essential to the economy, especially during these difficult economic times, and I hope that the bill which emerges in consultation with the Senate will further address these concerns. I believe that the small incremental costs associated with this bill are a small sacrifice that we can all make to ensure the well being of this country in the long-term.

So Paul, two questions? Do you support and are you willing to back Mayor Barletta's plan to construct a clean, green solar power plant at the Hazleton Municipal Airport property? Since you are willing to force consumers to pay additional costs how would you rationalize attacking Barletta for raising property taxes for one year as a temporary budget stop-gap measure? Unlike the federal government that can "print paper" anytime it needs money municipalities like Hazleton do not have that luxury.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The world's carboncrats are beavering away this week on a vast new global cap-and-trade scheme that President Obama wants the U.S. to join. But before we do, maybe Americans should understand how this already works in practice. Union workers, take note.

The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 required signatories to reduce their carbon emissions, and the European Union in 2005 launched its own cap-and-trade system. The program sets a limit on carbon emissions, and companies are issued free carbon allowances that they can buy or sell based on their emissions needs.

Fast forward to this month's news that Corus, Europe's second-largest steel producer, is shuttering a giant U.K. steelmaking plant at Redcar, cutting 1,700 jobs. Corus blames the recession that has cut steel demand and says the British government hasn't done enough to help it.

Whatever the truth of that, there's little doubt that cap and trade made the closure much easier. The decline in steel production means European steelmakers have surplus carbon allowances. According to Carbon Market Data, a European research firm, in 2008 Corus had the second largest surplus of EU carbon allowances—7.5 million.

The EU is looking for ways to drive today's depressed allowance price of about $21 apiece back up to former highs of about $50, so Corus has the potential for a $375 million windfall. By closing Redcar's annual capacity of three million tons of steel, Corus will produce six million fewer tons of CO2. That means more carbon allowances, which could translate into about $300 million a year if credits hit $50. Corus is essentially being paid to lay off British workers.

Corus will also profit if it moves the production to India. As part of Kyoto, the United Nations created the Clean Development Mechanism to encourage Western companies to invest in developing-world factories. Participants are financially rewarded based on the amount of carbon they "save" with more efficient plants.

Corus was bought in 2007 by Tata, India's largest steel company. The Indian steel industry is set to more than double production to some 124 million tons a year by 2011-2012. Were Corus to move production to a "clean" Indian factory, it could receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the Clean Development Fund. The kicker is that none of this results in fewer carbon emissions. A Corus plant in India might be more efficient by Indian standards, but it will be no more efficient than Redcar.

We should add that all of this is precisely what Kyoto envisioned. The idea is to tax Western industry and then send the proceeds to developing countries as an incentive to join the anticarbon crusade. But unless governments close their borders to foreign investment, business will flow to where the carbon tariff is least punishing. China and India understand this, which is why they won't agree at Copenhagen to anything that reduces this advantage.

The Corus story also shows that cap and trade isn't really a free market. Markets develop to efficiently allocate resources and capital. Carbon cap and trade is a government-rigged market, in which carbon allowances are dispensed based on political influence. Such a system is ripe for manipulation, and Corus is merely the latest example.

To summarize: Cap and trade is a scheme that would impose heavy carbon taxes and allowances on U.S. industries, which would then have an incentive to move overseas themselves, or to sell those allowances to overseas companies that could use them to become more competitive against U.S. companies. Like the 1,700 Brits at Redcar, American workers would be the big losers.