Monday, May 10, 2010

A Tale Of Eachus, Kanjorski, And Leighton

Here is a picture of Todd Eachus delivering money to the City of Wilkes Barre. Last time I looked Wilkes Barre isn't in his district. Evidently he likes helping out Mayor Tom Leighton more than he cares for the district he represents.

There is irony and paradox to the latest attacks by Leighton on his opponent, State Rep. John Yudichak of Nanticoke. In this article by Andrew Staub of the Times-Tribune Leighton is quoted "I have a payroll that I have to meet," Mr. Leighton said. "I cannot let our city employees go without pay in November and December, such as the state police and other state employees did during a state budget crisis when John was collecting per diems." Uhh...Tom according to records Eachus claimed over $27,000.00 in per diems last year.

Leighton's theme, which seems odd since Todd Eachus has been shopping Leighton around the district, seems to be echoed by other candidates vying for Harrisburg seats. In the 112th challenger Kevin Haggerty attacked Rep. Ken Smith over the budget impasse in this Times-Tribune article.

But at a debate Wednesday, challenger Kevin Haggerty took a direct shot at Mr. Smith, admonishing the incumbent for taking per diems during the 101-day state budget impasse, while nonprofit organizations were forced to take out loans, cut services and lay off workers to stay open.

"It was a travesty," said 37-year-old Mr. Haggerty, a Dunmore resident.

Another opponent, John Keeler, had this to say about his fellow Democratic legislators holding office. Mr. Keeler, 58, of South Scranton, said his highest priority will be holding the Legislature accountable for its "fiscal irresponsibility." He said he was outraged to learn of the multimillion-dollar budgets legislators kept for their own "incidental expenses," while Pennsylvania was in a fiscal crisis.

"There's a big frustration out there about how this government has been run," Mr. Keeler said. "I have 30 years of experience in banking and I have thorough understanding of how government finances work.

It gets better. Challenger Bob Lesh, 53, of South Scranton, and a 12-year member of the Scranton School Board, said he decided to run after learning the state had cut programs for veterans even while keeping their legislator budgets intact. His brother and son, Vietnam War veteran David J. Lesh and Iraq War veteran Robert J. Lesh Jr., respectively, both have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

"It's an embarrassment that legislators did this while they still accept per diems," Mr. Lesh said.

Mr. Haggerty said the need for reform of the General Assembly is what spurred him to enter the race and rally support to unseat Mr. Smith. His biggest priority will be to see a constitutional convention is called and the Legislature reduced in size by half.

"Careless spending, the fact that we have had a failed legislative budget process for the last seven years, it's because of an overabundance of legislators," Mr. Haggerty said.

In this article by Andrew Staub Yudichak gets a boost from Professor Tom Baldino concerning those running for the seat he is vacating. "The best candidate would be the candidate who can model John Yudichak," Baldino said. "Any Democrat who can present credentials as those being similar to John Yudichak's, that is a political philosophy or platform that would play in that district rather well."

Yudichak has relied on a record as a Harrisburg reformer, saying he stood up to party bosses while rejecting a pay raise and pension increase. And he's shook off criticism - such as his collection of per diem money despite his ownership interest in a Harrisburg home - and replaced it with a reform package that would eliminate per diems, impose term limits on legislative leaders and call for a constitutional convention.

During a forum held by the League of Women Voters at the Burke Auditorium at King's College Yudichak and Leighton had some sparks fly. Andrew Staub reports

In response to Yudichak's charges, Leighton said he "would never jeopardize" his integrity and accused the lawmaker of befriending legislators tangled in the Bonusgate scandal.

"John's part of that dome, part of that capitol," Leighton said. "So if the City Hall is part of (problems in) Luzerne County, then you must be part of the capitol problem. Don't paint me with a broad brush when you're in the same atmosphere."

Yudichak bristled at Leighton's suggestion.

"How absurd," Yudichak said. "That's like saying that Tiger Woods' wife is at fault for Tiger Woods' infidelity because she happened to live in the same house.

Mr. Leighton the fact remains that Todd Eachus is in charge of that dome as House Majority Leader. Unless you forgot your position as Mayor you know the buck stops at the top.

Over at the LuLac Political Letter Mr. Yonki writes Yudichak’s issue is the property in Harrisburg he uses with per deim money. Yudichak has been vocal in his demands that the Legislature police itself more but critics say he might be coming to that realization too late.

Unlike Eachus who owns a home in Harrisburg with his wife Yudichak had a twenty-five percent interest in his home which has has since divested himself. The same can't be said of Eachus.

A parallel story running here that is not reported by the press is Paul Kanjorski's support for Tom Leighton. Eachus has an ax to grind with Yudichak over Michael Veon. Evidently Eachus and Kanjorski are putting their political efforts behind Leighton. Of course everyone remembers the story that aired on Fox News concerning Kanjorski's earmark scandal. Jopseh Yudichak, the father of John Yudichak, told the story in the interview.

There is a report that Kanjorski's campaign contributed $20,000 to Leighton. It's his way of getting back at Yudichak for his help to Lou Barletta.

It is amazing how the Democrats are attacking each other on ethics, a sort of election cannabilization if you will. The Republicans get to sit this one out and watch the circus.

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