Sunday, February 28, 2010

SOP Recognizes The Supreme Court's Wisdom?? Well Interpretations Anyway

In a prior post Article II Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution was cited as reason for unjust compensation to our legislators. After reviewing this decision by the Supreme Court we stand almost corrected.

What is meant by that statement? It is clear in their decision that the right of the voters to correct language that seems to be clear to Mom and Pop rests at the ballot box. Legislators in Harrisburg are using the system and decisions of the court to validate their actions to ingratiate themselves. It is up to the voters to correct their actions at election time.

Witness this article relating to those elected legialtors who didn't survive the midnight raid attempt at increasing their salaries.

That means at least 62 of the 119 representatives and 16 of 27 senators who voted for the ill-fated 2005 pay raise legislation will no longer be holding those seats. The House has 203 members; the Senate, 50.

Exercise your right this election cycle to send a clear message to the legislature and the courts about ignoring the citizens' pocketbook.

Pennsylvania's Constitution Article II Section 8

Section 8. Compensation.
The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise. No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase of salary, or mileage, under any law passed during such term.

Nowhere is there a provision for per diems, pensions, healthcare benefits, cellphones, or state paid cars. It is time our legislators obey the law.

Legislators Are Asked- "What Else Is Being Hidden?"

In an editorial by Tribune-Review's state Capitol reporter Brad Bumsted he asks the question "What Else Is Being Hidden?".

Testimony in the trial of ex-Representative Michael Veon et al by Scott Brubaker highlighted how the Rules of the House allowed illegal bonuses paid for campaign work to remain hidden from the public.

Brubaker, former director of staffing and administration for the House Democratic Caucus, talked about how a lack of specificity in the House rules on disclosing bonuses to the public was seized on as justification to keep the program "hidden."

The fact they paid out $1.4 million in bonuses -- off the books from 2004 through 2006 -- is scandalous.

Salaries, of course, are public record. If someone in the media asked for Brubaker's salary, you'd be told that he was paid $120,564 in 2006, period, not that he received a $15,250 bonus. His actual compensation was $135,814.

Brubaker's wife, Jennifer, who has also entered guilty pleas in the case, was paid $94,770 as director of the House Democrats' Legislative Research Office. But she was paid an off-the-books bonus of $17,750, making her actual unreported compensation total $112,520.

The secrecy was "exactly why we did it. You could get a bonus, and you didn't have to disclose it," said Brubaker. House Rule 14 didn't require that bonuses be publicly disclosed, he said.

"We would not report something we didn't have to report," Brubaker testified.

Right. Of course, you never tell the taxpayers how their money actually is being spent.

That statement by Brubaker accurately summarizes why Pennsylvania state government is regressive, insular and, to a certain extent, corrupt.

Here's the really disturbing issue: What other legislative expenses, not covered by Rule 14 or the Right to Know Law, are being hidden from the public now?

Amen and Amen. House Rule 14 begs for overhaul. It is the same House Rule that allows legislators to collect per diems on a per day basis not actual expenses.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Former DA Now Judge Named In Lawsuit

Posted: 12:00 AM
Updated: 8:09 AM

Lawyer accused of ‘smearing’
At issue is information about the sex life of a state trooper.
By Terrie Morgan-Besecker

The suit, filed in 2007, alleged Lori Connors and her father, Robert Pace, falsely accused Martin Connors of molesting his young daughter so that his ex-wife could gain an advantage in a custody dispute. The suit also named as defendants former District Attorney David Lupas and several county prosecutors and detectives who investigated the molestation allegation.

Toohil Goes After Eachus On Per Diem Scam

In yesterday's Standard Speaker an article appeared by Jim Dino where Tara Toohil, announced candidate for Pennsylvania's 116th legislative district, takes on Todd Eachus over the statewide abuse of per diems paid to legislators.

Certain legislators including Eachus are using their own rules which they pass to justify a practice as "legal" to collect per diem payments even though they don't have to produce receipts for any expenses. In turn those payments which are meant to reimburse for food and lodging appear to subsidize, tax-free, the purchase of second and third homes in Harrisburg for legislators. There is no question that per diems on a national level were meant to reimburse employees for expenses they incur, not mortgage payments they want to make.

Here's what House Rule 14 states in part:

A member who attends a duly called meeting of a standing or special committee of which he or she is a member when the House is not in session or who is summoned to the State Capitol or elsewhere by the Speaker, or the Majority or Minority Leader of the House, to perform legislative services when the House is not in session shall be reimbursed per day for each day of service, plus mileage to and from the member's residence, at such rates as are established from time to time by the Committee on Rules but not in excess of the applicable maximum mileage rate authorized by the Federal Government.

An employee of the House summoned by the Speaker or the Majority or Minority Leader of the House to perform legislative services outside of Harrisburg shall be reimbursed for actual expenses and mileage to and from the employee's residence. Such expenses may be paid by the Speaker, Majority or Minority Leader, if they agree to do so, or shall be paid by the Chief Clerk from appropriation accounts under the Chief Clerk's exclusive control and jurisdiction, upon a written request approved by the Speaker, or the Majority or the Minority Leader. District office employees are only permitted to be reimbursed from an account under the control of the Chief Clerk when traveling to Harrisburg for a training program sponsored by either caucus or for travel to a legislative conference approved by the Speaker, the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader. All other travel by district office employees may be reimbursed from the member's accountable expenses or an account under the control of the Speaker, the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader.

Basically the employees of the Commonwealth must abide by the same rules private industry establishes for employee expenses but their bosses chose to make their regulations circumvent the true intent of per diems.

"This abuse of the system is another reason why I'm running for office," Tarah Toohil, Eachus' likely GOP opponent in the November general election, said in a statement this week. "It is wrong for Todd Eachus to collect per diem money while owning a home in Harrisburg. It is wrong for him to use per diems to pay his mortgage and make a property investment for himself. This money must be repaid to the taxpayers."

After addressing a Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce contingent Thursday, Eachus defended his actions, and criticized Toohil for what he called a negative campaign.

"I've filed all of the information required by the Internal Revenue Service," Eachus said. "Everything has been done to the letter of the law in the 14 years I've been a state representative.

"I'm hoping not all of this campaign will be mudslinging," he continued. "Who this young attorney is, to me, is unclear. But so far, this campaign has been negative. I'm hoping in this campaign, she can focus on the real issues, like what she proposes to do about jobs, health care, and access to health care for seniors, not just a negative campaign. People are sick of the negativity."

Mudsling to one person is accountablity to another. The issue of unaccountable per diems is not a negative campaign. It is highlighting the need for more government reform.

Here's what Todd Eachus had to say in a story by Robert Swift back in November, 2009 about the per diems he racked up during the budget debacle.

Eachus pointed out that lawmakers - unlike the governor - don't have a taxpayer-funded residence to stay in when they are in Harrisburg.

"These (per diems) are real expenses," he added. "It's a federally allowable expense. Many people think it's income, but it's not.

Well, Todd, who is funding your home in Harrisburg that you paid for with per diem money? If they are real expenses please provide the taxpayers with receipts for the lodging and the meals you claim are real.

Per diems are meant to reimburse for actual expenses. Legislators are treated to meals by lobbyists where no need for reimbursement can be justified in most people's minds. According to the Bureau of State Employment nearly 80,000 people are employed by Pennsylvania government. It's a shame that 253 of them want to abide by a different rule than the rest.

To Eachus's claims of negative campaigning legislators in Alaska are facing the same tough questions regarding per diems.

Hard-working House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, led all legislators last year in collecting out-of-session per diem, an extra pay boost that lawmakers get while working on legislative business when not in session.

Empire calculations from Legislative Affairs Agency data show that Chenault was paid $89,250 last year for serving as a legislator, tops among his peers.

Among the factors that go into total pay are last year's official salary of $24,012 for most legislators, per diem paid during the session of $189 a day for most legislators, and per diem paid for days worked outside session of $150. Some legislators, such as Chenault, took their office expense accounts as salary as well.

That brought average legislator pay last year to $65,400.

NOTE: In Pennsylvania the House Speaker made $122,254.00 this year and legislators are paid $78,315.00 this year as a base salary plus all the perks and benefits.

Mr. Eachus is so quick to call for public hearings. Why doesnt' he call one on the per diem issue? Or better yet look at what happened in Massachusetts over legislative per diems.

Legislators to file per diems as taxes
By Bob Katzen/Beacon Hill Roll Call
Posted Oct 05, 2009 @ 01:17 AM

Beacon Hill Roll Call has learned that for at least several decades, the W2 tax forms received by thousands of former and current legislators have not included millions of dollars in state money used to pay per diems to these legislators.

This all changed when the state and the IRS hammered out an agreement that beginning in 2008, the state would include the per diem income on legislators' W2 forms. The state went further and in 2009 began withholding taxes each pay period on the per diems just as it does on legislators' regular income. The agreement did not include going back to any prior years in which a legislator might not have paid any state or federal taxes on the per diems.

Defenders of the per diem agreement with the IRS say that the snafu was the fault of the state and not of individual legislators. They argue that many legislators have diligently paid taxes on their per diems for the past several decades. They say that the state should not go on a witch hunt and start tracking down the tax returns of thousands of legislators to see who, if anyone, did not paid taxes on the money.

Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation has a different idea. She said, "As so many of these tax-avoiders like to tell us, taxes are the price we pay for civilization. Those who did not declare the per diems as income and who did not pay taxes on it should estimate what they owe the IRS and the state, and pay it."

Mr. Eachus & Company should be thankful they don't work for the state of Missouri.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has proposed freezing the expense allowances of state legislators for two years, although state law would give them an 18 percent raise.

The daily allowance is used to cover lodging and meals in the capital and equals 80 percent of the federal per diem for Jefferson City.

In an interview, Schaefer reprimanded federal officials for accepting increases in their daily allowances while many Americans are losing jobs.

“In dealing with an extremely tight budget at a time when there are so many people who have lost their jobs or have the threat of losing their jobs, it’s inappropriate at this time to take an automatic increase,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said he drafted the bill as a signal that legislators are serious about tightening the state’s budget. With the federal per diem increase, Missouri’s lawmakers will receive $103.20 each day they are in session, on top of their base salary of $35,915 a year.

If the bill becomes law, per diem would remain at $87.20 per day, the same amount legislators received during the 2009 legislative session.

Mr. Eachus and Company should be thankful Pennsylvania isn't Tennessee.

Lawmakers have claimed more than $1 million in daily pay for their work during the first half of 2009 — over and above their $19,009 annual salary — and with the decline in state tax receipts, some are calling on Tennessee's 132 senators and representatives to curb expenses.

In just the first three months of the year, state representatives collected an average of $6,300 in daily payments for their work. Over that same period, senators received roughly the same amount, plus $8,200 in the second quarter, records show. House records for the second quarter are to be released soon.

These "per diem" payments, purportedly for expenses such as hotel rooms, food and other incidentals, serve as a backdoor salary for legislators who are supposed to work only part time, critics say. This is especially true for Nashville-area lawmakers, who often spend the night at home.

Pennsylvania Legislators= $78,315.00
Massachusetts Legislators= $65,400
Missouri Legislators= $35,915.00
Alaska Legislators= $24,012.00
Tennessee Legislators= $19,009.00

Todd, about that public hearing???

Friday, February 26, 2010

Paul Kanjorski On Congressional Pay Raises

Seniors- did you receive the cost of living increase that Paul Kanjorski is talking about in this video from January, 2009.

Now listen to what Congressman Vern Buchanan recently said at a town hall in Sarasota, Florida back in September, 2009 about stopping Congressional pay raises.

Charlie Rangel's Problems For Paul Kanjorski

Last election season Paul Kanjorki couldn't help himself but attend a fundraiser for Charlie Rangel(tell me he doesn't look a little like Al Sharpton). In the shadow of ethics charges against Rangel Kanjorski felt the need to pay homage to his friend.

One day until Kanjorski-Rangel fundraiser
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ohh what a difference a new election season makes...Diana Ross couldn't script this better..."Stop in the name of Paul before you break my heart think it oooover .....think it ooooover..."

Ethics Panel Finds Rangel Broke Rules

Rep. Charles Rangel, the most powerful tax-writing lawmaker in Congress and a 40-year veteran of Capitol Hill, acknowledged Thursday that an ethics panel has accused him of accepting corporate money for Caribbean trips in violation of House rules.

The panel exonerated five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who also were on the 2007 and 2008 trips to Antigua and St. Martin but told them they will have to pay for the trips.

The findings are certain to raise questions of whether Rangel, a New York Democrat, can continue as Ways and Means Committee chairman in an election year. Democrats took over the House in 2006 on a campaign promise to "end a culture of corruption" in Congress that they blamed on 12 years of Republican rule.

The panel, formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, is still investigating Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for a college center to be named after him and incomplete financial disclosures that omitted some income and assets, including rent he received from a vacation home in the Dominican Republic.

Somehow Paul Kanjorski cannot divorce himself from unethical behavior whether it be Cornerstone where the government is still looking for those $100,000.00 pumps or associations with Rangel.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Red Skelton's Version Of The Pledge Of Allegiance

He was prophetic in 1969 with these words.

Petrilla- Send Me A Lifeboat

Times Leader Photo

Due to the expert reporting of Jennifer Learn-Andes the homestead tax exemption surreptitously taken back by Luzerne County demanded a spotlight on its "midnight" raid of taxpayer money. Well it really didn't happen at midnight but you get the idea.

In this article that appeared in the Standard Speaker by Michael Buffer it was reported that Luzerne County property tax bills were mailed without the homestead exemption. In effect the tax break was reclaimed on top of the 15% tax increase approved by the Luzerne County Commissioners.

Commissioners Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said county officials didn't think the homestead tax break was in effect this year because commissioners didn't vote to authorize it for 2010.

"How do you raise taxes and give a break? It's almost like a shell game," Petrilla said. "We're going to raise taxes, and then you're going to have to raise taxes even higher yet to cover an exemption. It didn't appear to make much sense.

But Commissioner Stephen A. Urban said a 2009 resolution authorized the tax break for 2009 and requires the tax break to stay in effect until commissioners rescind it.

"It should not have been taken off the tax bills," Urban said.

In this article by Jennifer Learn-Andes of the Times Leader Commissioner Petrilla is taken to task for her statement.

County Solicitor Vito DeLuca said Monday that he researched the law and concluded that a homestead tax break must continue unless commissioners vote to rescind it.

Urban said he and Commissioner Thomas Cooney had no idea the break had been eliminated and both agreed that the homestead should be restored.

County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said last week that she never knew the break had to continue beyond 2009. She maintained that a higher tax increase would be necessary to fund the break.

However, county Budget/Finance Director Tom Pribula said the cost of the tax break was never removed from the budget, and the county would receive an unanticipated $3.5 million to $4 million windfall if the break was not offered.

Urban said the break was meant to reward property owners who choose to make the county their primary residence.

“We value home ownership and understand the importance of this program, particularly at this economic time,” Urban said.

The homestead knocks $10,000 off an assessment for county taxes -- not school or municipal ones.

Her lack of knowledge cost the county a ton.

The county already spent thousands of dollars on mailing, printing and labor to prepare the tax bills that must be scrapped. The county mailed 12,262 tax bills last week, and another 36,700 were printed but not mailed.

County Information Technology Director Steve Englot said he had to order about 70,000 more tax bill forms and additional postage and printer cartridges to prepare the new bills for roughly 165,000 property owners.

To add the calamity of the situation Commissioner Petrilla tries to cover her hide with some self serving statements right out of a campaign stump in a subsequent article by Jennifer Learn-Andes.

Following is Petrilla's statement:

I want the taxpayers of the county to know I hear their frustration and anger at the recent mix-up concerning the Homestead Tax Exemption. There was a mistake made here. We’re all human. I told the people attending the commissioners’ meeting last week who protested that we would correct this. And we have.

I can’t dial back the play clock on this one item. We will make sure things like this don’t occur again.

I also hope that all I have tried to do to improve county government at this crucial time in our history will not be judged by this one incident. I’ve finally put an end to the wasteful practice of seemingly endless county borrowing. We had to raise taxes, but we made many cuts in this year’s spending to try to minimize the pain. We now have a fairer tax system with everyone paying their fair share instead of some receiving a better deal over others. This preferential treatment went on for decades beyond when other counties reassessed. Additionally:

• I singlehandedly worked with the principals of PA Child Care to end their lease that cost $58 million.
• Discovered the practice of contract piecemealing, stopped and exposed it, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
• Completely put an end to nepotism and cronyism by hiring professional and experienced directors to fill jobs.
• Developed a cooperative working relationship with the courts to streamline their budget and save taxpayer’s two million dollars a year.

There has been much to cleanup since I became chairwoman of the commissioners. I’ve worked hard to begin the cleanup. I hope people won’t rush to judgment on my overall record before some time passes and it can be judged in it’s entirety.

These have been tough times in Luzerne County for a variety of reasons. We’re doing our best in these trying days. I hope people will look at the big picture. Thank you to the taxpayers for any patience they can afford us. We will continue to try and do better.

She singlehandedly did what??? She discovered what?? With all due respect Commissioner Petrilla you sound like Todd Eachus when he states he was managing the Bonusgate investigation from Harrisburg. I believe the FBI and AG Tom Corbett had respective roles in what each of you claim.

As for Maryann rooting out waste let's revisit the Frank Vita debacle.

Psychologist denies involvement in alleged juvenile justice scheme

Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009 4:06 AM EST

“Every bill that was paid to Frank Vita was approved by the county controller’s office, including the two years that Maryanne Petrilla was controller,” McGarry said. “They were approved and reimbursed. All I did was sign the rate card.”

Petrilla, who has served since last January as the chairwoman of the county’s board of commissioners, did not return telephone messages late Wednesday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Per Diems- Legislators Abuse The System And Flaunt It

If any Pennsylvania legislator wanted to peer into the future read the comments posted at this Times Tribune atricle concerning their use of per diem payments to fund second home purchases in Harrisburg. This issue portends to be a hot topic this election season.

Here is an article that appeared in the Tribune Democrat highlighting the fact that Senator John Wozniak received almost $38,000.00 in per diem payments from January, 2008 through October, 2009. He received that amount on top of his $78,314.00 salary. It is amazing that any legislator can receive that amount of money without a requirement to produce ONE receipt. As the article points out there are no checks and balances.

In this Opinion from The Mercury of Pottstown the editor makes a point that our legislators can collect the per diem for any "day" they are in Harrisburg on state business — even if that "day" is one minute within the city limits. And they can claim "reimbursement" even though they don't need to produce receipts. If they say they paid for breakfast, they get reimbursed for breakfast — even if some lobbyist actually paid for breakfast. They can attend lobbyist receptions at night and never spend a dime on dinner but get reimbursed.

It appears Harrisburg is a free for all money grab as far as our legislators are concerned. Legislators claim their practices are legal. However, what is the impact to the state?

If the legislators were required to rent a hotel room and purchase meals which is what a true per diem is meant to reimburse how many jobs would be saved? The front desk clerk, the cleaning lady, the linen service, the coffee service, the grounds maintenance, the building maintenance, the chef, the waiter or waitress, the bus boy, the food vendor personnel, the kitchen equipment personnel- all depend on the room bookings and restaurant operations.

Instead legislators are trying to tell us it is okay for them to receive an unaccountable per diem, purchase a second home with the money, rent it out to fellow legislators, sell the home and make a profit that only benefits one person. Talk about abuse of the system.

As far as what the $158 per diem rate can purchase read this editorial by Chris Kelly of the Times-Tribune from last year. At least some homeless and families who are struggling benefited unlike our carnivorous legislators who wine and dine on only the finest.

Ohh,,,lest we forget..the legislators received the per diem the whole time they didn't pass a budget..I mean didn't do their job. During the budget impasse lawmakers racked up $532,000.00 in per diem payments according to the Tribune just the months of July and August. The payments to legislators during the budget impasse "make me sick," said Judy Kandel, 67, a Canonsburg retiree.

"I think since they are getting their pay, they don't give a hoot. They're looking out for themselves, not the people," she said.

Brett Marcy is great on putting spin on this issue for Todd Eachus.

"I never take them," said Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, who said she claims actual reimbursement for a $62 hotel room and mileage but no meals.

"I ran on a platform of accountability and being careful with tax dollars," Ward said. "I wanted to live up to those words. Don't let anyone kid you; you don't have to buy a meal in Harrisburg."

Brett Marcy, a spokesman for Eachus, defended the payments as a cost of getting the budget done.

"These have been difficult times for all Pennsylvanians, but Rep. Eachus and House Democrats refuse to give up until the commonwealth has a fiscally responsible budget that remembers those who need help the most," Marcy said. "We're happy to report that we're very close to finalizing that budget. The per diems were reimbursements for expenses incurred during the course of that work."

It never dawned on Mr. Marcy that if they didn't receive the reimbursements maybe that would have reached their epiphany on the budget sooner. BTW, Brett, the ones who needed it most were the homeless and struggling families, just in case you forgot them.

A similar practice is occuring out west in California so it isn't just our legislators who lost touch.

As Natahan Benefield suggests over at Commomwealth Foundation why doesn't the state build a dormitory for lawmakers?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

100 Stimulus Projects- A Second Opinion

Senator Tom Coburn penned this report titled 100 Stimulus Projects- A Second Opinion.

1. “Free” Stimulus Money Results in Higher Utility Costs for Residents of Perkins, Oklahoma ................ 6
2. FutureGen: The Stimulus Earmark that Wasn’t, Becomes the Costliest Pork Project in History ........ 7
3. Little-Used “Shovel-Ready” Bridges in Rural Wisconsin Given Priority Over Widely Used Structurally Deficient Bridges ...................................................................................................................................... 9
4. $800,000 for little-used Johnstown, Pennsylvania airport to repave a back-up runway; the “Airport
for Nobody” Has Already Received Tens of Millions in Taxpayer dollars ...................................................... 10
5. $3.4 Million for Wildlife “Eco-Passage” in Florida; Project Still May Take Years to Finish .................. 11
6. Nevada Non-Profit Gets Weatherization Contract After Being Fired For Same Work ........................ 12
7. Non-Existent Oklahoma Lake in Line for Over $1 Million To Construct a New Guardrail .................. 13
8. Taxpayers Taken for a Ride: Nearly $10 Million to be Spent to Renovate a Century Old TrainStation that Hasn’t Been Used in 30 Years ............................................................................................................... 14
9. Ten Thousand Dead People Get Stimulus Checks, Social Security Administration Blames a Tough Deadline ............................................................................................................................................................................ 16
10. Town of Union, New York, Encouraged to Spend Money It Did Not Request For a Homelessness Problem It Does Not Have ........................................................................................................................................... 17

Friday, February 19, 2010

Paul Kanjorski-Beware The Kiss Of Death

Over at Tony Phrillas's blog he makes a great point about the "Obama Kiss Of Death".

Rep. Joe Sestak- White House Made Me An Offer

The Associated Press is reporting in the Los Angeles Times that Rep. Joseph Sestak is sticking by his story that the White House made him an offer to exit the race against Arlen Specter.

Sestak said Thursday at a taping of the Comcast Network's "Larry Kane: Voice of Reason" show that he was offered a high-ranking job but turned it down.

Spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said Friday that Sestak stands by his comments. He declined to provide details about the job offer.

The White House told The Associated Press on Friday that it had no immediate comment on Sestak's comments.

In a related story on the Los Angeles Times blog more details emerge.

When Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter announced at the White House last spring that he was switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, President Obama said he'd do anything he could to help the embattled senator, now 80 years old, win reelection.

Apparently he wasn't kidding.

Joe Sestak, the retired Navy admiral and Pennsylvania congressman who is challenging Specter in the Democratic primary, says the White House offered him a high-ranking administration job in hopes he would not make the race.

In a cable news interview by Larry Kane to be broadcast Sunday, Sestak was asked about rumors that the White House had made feelers to see if he could be lured from the race.

Yes, he acknowledged, but "I'm not going to say who or how and what was offered."

Navy secretary? No comment.

High-ranking? Yes.

Sestak would not give further details, except to say that "both here in Pennsylvania and down there [Washington], I was called quite a few times." Afterward, Sestak told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the offer came in July, not long before he formally announced his candidacy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ron Paul Demolishes Paul Kanjorski

Part 1


jettech171 (2 weeks ago)
Holy shit! The people of PA should bury their heads in the sand.

dawnstory69 (2 weeks ago)

What special interest owns this Paul Kanjorski? This 72 year old cabbage head Incumbent from PA needs to be removed from office! He's held his chair in congress since 1985 - that's 25 years too long! Throughout his career he's grossed over $3,000,000.00 and that doesn't include all of the campaign contributions, gifts, and perks given by lobbyists of the special interests which have bought his congressional vote!

shouldlistentoronpau (3 weeks ago)
Reply I love how Dr. Paul is kind enough to let the other guy talk without interupting and then as soon as the Dr. takes his time to reply the other guy wont shut the hell up.

Great show of character RON PAUL.

Reply "Don't question your government in a time of crisis". F*** that asshole. Thank you, Ron.

Part 2

Kanjorski- Democrats Will Lose

"If the election is decided as a referendum on the last 14 months, this coming November, the Democrats are going to lose," Kanjorski said.

Yesterday, Paul Kanjorski opened up his campaign tour with visits to the editorial departments of the Citizen's Voice and the Times Leader. He spent time trying to convince them that the problems facing the American people were the actions of the Democratic party but not him. For a moment I thought I heard Slim Shady in the background "Say it wasn't me". He not only sought to distance himself, from the articles it sounds like he was talking about another party altogether.

It might be fitting that he and Tiger Woods chose the same week to launch "Damage Control".

In a not so distance past Barack Obama handed Paul Kanjorski his victory. He latched onto Barack Obama like a koala bear cub hugs its parent. At the same time Ed "The Distraction" Mitchell launched a campaign to paint Lou Barletta tied to the hip of George Bush which couldn't have been further from the truth. Bush never supported Barletta's immigration stand so it was just plain "Russian propaganda" 60's style vs. the real relationship.

The same analogy doesn't apply to Kanjorski with Obama. It's funny how blogger comments dig Barletta for his appearances on Lou Dobb. Kanjorski couldn't wait to get in front of the camera Alexander Haig style on CNBC or any network that would have him.

One has to give Paul credit. His condenscending tone never goes away. He talks about Corey O"Brien calling him a nice young man, translation, a young pup from NEPA while I am the elitist from Washington.

“If I were to leave this year, the longest-serving legislator in the region will be Sen. Bob Casey,” Kanjorski said. “We are losing state Senators Bob Mellow and Ray Musto, who are retiring. If I go and Sen. Casey is not re-elected in his next run, then we might as well close down the ballroom.” Geez, Paul I didn't know Washington would stop running without you. What a pompous statement.

Kanjo tells the Times Leader we need his clout in Washington. “I’m in the right place at the right time to do the right thing,” Kanjorski said. “And the chance of accomplishment is there.” Geez, Paul wasn't that your story two years ago?

Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, blamed the Obama administration's inflexibility.."His administration and he seemed to freeze in place, and so did the Congress that 'we don't give a damn, we're going to have health care.'" Kanjorski said during an interview Wednesday with The Citizens' Voice editorial board.

Remember this commercial:

Evidently Mr. Kanjorkski and Mr. Mitchell would prefer if it wasn't around.

Michael Sisak writes this commentary in his article. The challenge for Kanjorski and other House Democrats is overcoming a perception, pushed by Republicans and members of the growing Tea Party movement, that they are not governing.

Perception..hmmm. Is it perception that TARP funds were spent to bail out the banks? Is it perception that the automakers had their industry engulfed like phagocytosis by the United States Government? Is it perception that $300 billion of Stimulus funds were spent? Is it perception that the federal deficit has more than tripled the record in just one year under Kanjorski and Obama's watch? Is it perception that our children and our grandchildren were handed I.O.U's that they are responsible for by persons they probably will never meet? It is more than perception; it's reality.

We can't keep electing the same people and expect a different result. It is time to send Kanjorski and other incumbents(yes, there are a few Republicans as well) to the same retirement community Chris Dodd and Evan Bayh chose as their new address.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anniversary Of Stimulus How Did NEPA Fair Out?

Yesterday, Paul Kanjorski tried to demonstrate his "coolness" by using Twitter to announce he will run for a 13th term. Today Barack Obama announced to the world his perception on how well the stimulus program is working. As you can imagine his take is self-serving.

If you read the article you will see his proclamations are being met head-on with more than just skepticism.

Obama's next move is to send his munions like Paul Kanjorski out into the "wilderness" to tell the world about the stimulus program. They will spread more deception upon the public thinking we are incapable of our own assessment.

Well, here is one way to tell how NEPA is fairing out. Go to this site and punch in your zipcode.

Some results worth noting. Amount of jobs for Wilkes Barre 8.43, Hazleton 5.92 and the county that handed Kanjorski his win last time- Lackawanna- 32. Bloomsburg came in at 21 and Stroudsburg 11.15. What a hell of a track record for Paul. Not even 70 jobs for his district, yet his commercial from November, 2008 stated he and Barack "would stand up for us". Beautiful, just beautiful.

What was the cost for those jobs? How much did you and I spend for those jobs? $66,077,863.00 or approximately $1 million per job. Wouldn't we have been better given each job recipient $1 million dollars to spend?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Brad Bumsted Writes About Mike Veon's Trial Defense

Brad Bumsted, the Tribune-Review's State Capital reporter, wrote a critque piece over the weekend on the defense employed for Michael Veon et al in their misuse of public funds trial, aka Bonusgagte. Mike Veon brought in an attorney friend who uses theatrics to bewilder the juries facing him.

Dan Raynak is throwing up that is part rope-a-dope, part David Copperfield, part blame-everyone-else and, most of all, let confusion reign.

Prosecutors believe they can win if they keep jurors' eye on the ball -- the specific counts of corruption against the former powerful legislative leader. On a daily basis, Raynak is trying to take their eyes off that ball.

Distraction is the name of the game for Raynak, a powerful and commanding presence in the courtroom. Dauphin County jurors will either love him or hate him

One image is hard even for Raynak to erase:

Displayed on an oversized screen for the jury was a color photo of Veon and his staff, each with a big cigar in hand, attending a fundraiser in his district while taxpayers picked up the tab for staff travel.

Bumsted highlights in his piece a parade of witnesses that will surely tilt the preponderance of evidence in the state's favor. He makes the case that Raynak will have a hard time convincing a jury there is a conspiracy to convict Michael Veon et al. SOP agrees that it will be hard to sway the jurors everyone is lying except Michael Veon.

Veon shouldn't take that assessment personal. It is what it is. There are parts to Michael Veon that really want a person to root for him, but there is little "Kazoo" saying "He's guilty". Only time will tell whether the Johnny Cocoran in Dan Raynak will prevail.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paul Kanjorski Touted His Seniority

Paul Kanjorski and Ed Mitchell proffered to the public about Kanjorski's seniority and it's (lack) of importance to Pennsylvania but more important to Kanjorski and his family.

In remebering John Murtha Ed Rendell offered these words that should make Paul Kanjorksi kringe.

Rendell said Murtha's death Feb. 8 at age 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery cost him a plainspoken friend and cost Pennsylvania "the best ally we ever had" in Washington.

Murtha's influence on Pennsylvania, and especially his ability to bring defense spending and jobs to the state following the steel industry meltdown of the 1970s and early '80s, was felt well beyond his 12th District, composed of parts of nine western counties, Rendell said.

"He was our go-to guy," Rendell said.

Rendell, who said that as mayor of Philadelphia he called upon Murtha for help, credited Murtha with saving the Philadelphia shipyard industry.

"Nobody is irreplaceable in the long run," Rendell said. "But he is as close to it as anybody I've seen."

Kanjorski never had the influence he claimed and never will.

Mr. Eachus Maintains Innocence

Todd Eachus has tried to escape the public eye with regards to Bonusgate. However residents of the 116th should be wary of those claims. Let's read a story from Philadelphia and the Associated Press on Wednesday December 23, last.

Witness: I was hired as House aide to politick

Associated Press

HARRISBURG - The majority leader of the Pennsylvania House directed campaign activities by legislative employees and raised campaign funds from inside the Capitol, according to witness testimony in transcripts obtained by the Associated Press.

The witnesses in the widening probe, which has reached top levels of the state General Assembly, allege conduct by Todd Eachus similar to that for which 25 others have been charged.

Eachus has not been charged, and the allegations date to before he was elected majority leader a year ago.

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.

For nearly three years, state Attorney General Tom Corbett has been investigating whether state lawmakers and their aides used legislative employees and state-owned equipment for campaign purposes.

The scandal began with news that millions in bonuses had been quietly handed out to employees of the General Assembly, and a series of five grand-jury reports has alleged that many of those bonuses were part of a conspiracy that also involved state contracts and computer equipment, as well as some of the highest-ranking members of the state House and aides.

The transcripts were provided on the condition of anonymity by a person connected to the defendants, who are expected to go on trial in January.

Eachus declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Corbett, a Republican running for governor.

But Eachus told WNEP-TV in Scranton this week that he was shocked and saddened "to see colleagues of ours having problems. But I say this, that anyone who has created a problem should face justice."

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.

Did Jones testify that Eachus directed the use of GOVERNMENT dollars aka OUR MONEY, on public service announcements so they wouldn't have to use campaign donation dollars?????? Todd, care to explain.

From SOP post dated December 5, 2009

In the Standard Speaker article Eachus spokesman Brett Marcy had no comment when asked Thursday whether Eachus has been asked to testify. That is a curious statement given when asked back on July 7, 2009 by the Times Leader the reply was Brett Marcy said Eachus was not among the legislators who testified before the grand jury, nor was he interviewed by any law enforcement officials regarding the Bonusgate case." -- WB Times Leader 7/7/09 according to those great folks at When the answer is no there is an explanation. Take it from there.

Luzerne County and Pennsylvania Government

As a follow up to Jennifer Learn-Andes and Steve Mocarsky's Times Leader article one should look at how many State Representatives lay claim as the solons of Luzerne County. There are seven:

Eddie "Day" Pashinski
John Yudicak
Todd Eachus
Karen Boback
Mike Carroll
James Wansacz
Phyllis Mundy

Why do we need to pay seven salaries just for Luzerne County? As of 2007 the base amount paid to PA. State Representatives was $73,613.00. That figure for 2009 is $78,315.00. That means, just looking at base salary, the cost to Pennsylvania's taxpayers for Luzerne County's House representation in the Pennsylvania legislature is $469,890.00. It is actually more since Todd Eachus as House Majority Leader is paid over $114,000 per year. Those figures do not include the legistative staff supporting the Representatives which is another story, parts later in this piece.

By comparison, the state’s median household income is $50,173.

Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA noted that $12 million was cut from a program that provides aid to the state’s poorest citizens, including many who are disabled, elderly or blind.

Meanwhile, the Legislature sat on a $200 million reserve and increased the number of high earners on the payroll, he said.

If you want a real eye opener look at the salaries of some top legislative staff wage earners.

By the numbers

Number of House staffers making $100,000 or more — 47

Number of Senate staffers making $100,000 or more — 36

Number of state legislators making $100,000 or more — 14

Number of House staffers — 2,200

Number of Senate staffers — 907

Number of House staffers making more than rank-and-file representatives — 125

Number of Senate staffers making more than rank-and-file senators — 108

Salary of rank-and-file member of House and Senate — $78,315

In partiucluar let's look at what Todd Eachus's Chief of Staff is paid.

Laura Kuller

Majority Leader Todd Eachus’ chief of staff — $144,004

If that isn't out of control nothing is. Mr. Eachus should take a momemt to explain to the residents of the 116th why he is so generous with OUR money. He should also explain why to this day he has never returned his illegal pay raise yet tried to portray Lou Barletta as doing something illegal.

Folks but it gets better. After that story appeared Mr. John Micek of the Allentown Call updated Kuller's figure to $161,000.00. If you read that article Mr. Eachus is paying $393400.00 to just three employees. What do small businesses pay for their entire payroll? Mr. Eachus needs to get off his elitist pedestal and come back to earth.

Luzerne County's Staffing Woes

The biggest problem in Luzerne County eminates from its workforce. Read the Times Leader article by Jennifer Learn-Andes and Steve Mocarsky to find that there are 1698 full time workers in the county. Maryanne Petrilla and Thomas Cooney are telling us there is no place to cut yet their consultant firm told them they could eliminate 150 employees.

Luzerne County is the second highest employee to population ratio and ranked third with total number of employees. Chester County, ranked number 1 regarding employees has one hundered eighty thousand more residents but only 283 more employees.

“We’re trying to trim and do more with less. We’ve made a commitment that we’re going to try to streamline government and operate as lean as we possibly can,” said Petrilla, the board chairwoman.

Petrilla has publicly said that the county’s decision to furlough 72 workers last year hurt some services. She also said consultant Public Financial Management’s option to cut another 150 positions in one year was unrealistic. Cutting 150 positions could save an estimated $6.4 million this year, the consultant said.

Cooney, who replaced former commissioner Greg Skrepenak in December, said he met with all county departments, and most have fewer employees than they did several years ago. He said he will consider any suggestions on reducing expenses.

“Overall, the departments are running with less, which is what the public wants us to accomplish,” Cooney said.

But minority Commissioner Stephen A. Urban continues to maintain that there is still room for reductions. He said he heard few complaints about service cuts after last year’s layoffs.

Among his suggestions: switch court tipstaffers to part-time, get rid of a Hazleton solicitor position in the register of wills office and cut at least one position from recorder of deeds due to the office’s decreased workload.

Urban said he also believes the county administration could survive with fewer employees.

Here's a suggestion for the Luzerne County Commissioners. Read this paper, Preparing Allegheny County For The 21st Century, regarding the reorganization of the various departments in Allegheny County.

Reduce the Number of Departments

The government of Allegheny County is very fragmented with 30 departments, ten row offices, and an independent court system. These departments range in size from a high of 1,700 to a low of three employees. The director of each of the departments reports to the County Commissioners.

The Committee recommends that governmental functions be consolidated into a much smaller number of departments. There are several ways in which this can be done. A proposed organization chart depicting county government with nine departments is shown on page 13. This char is considered one
option and is not meant in any way to reflect a single ideal reorganization. However, the benchmark counties all had fewer departments, and many had reorganized in order to make such reductions.

Merit-Based Employment System and Employee Ethics

To attract and retain the most competent employees, thecounty need to institute a merit-based employment system.The system needs to be designed to treat all people fairly andequitably while encouraging high levels of performance formemployees. The county should also recruit highly professional and experienced managers. The selection process should try
to identify the most competent and qualified individualsavailable.

Allegheny County has approximately 8,000 employees. Theseindividuals can be hired by the County Commissioners,individual row officers, or by the court of Common Pleas.

Improve the Organization

· Reduce the Number of Departments

· Institute a Merit-Based personnel System Including a Model Ethics Code

· Appoint a Standing Government Improvement Commission

I makes sense and after all this is Luzerne County. If someone can explain why we absolutely need a Recorder of Deeds and a Register of Wills.

Dan Onorato made this statement as part of his 2009 Budget Address.

This year we successfully completed the final phase of row office consolidation with the creation of the Department of Court Records, which combined the former offices of Clerk of Courts, Prothonotary, and Register of Wills, and the Department of Real Estate, which was previously the Recorder of Deeds. We have now reduced the number of row offices from 10 to 4, saving taxpayers more than $1 million annually.

The Luzerne County Study Commission is polluted in its thinking, not sure if it is on purpose or not. Mr. Haggerty is trying, not actually going out of his way, to use the commission to benefit his political aspirations. An appointed manager would not be independent like an elected manager. An appointed manager would always have his job haning over his head by the political elected Commissioners. Its a shame we have an opportunity to streamline Luzerne County but he is standing in its way.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Revisit Gort's Post

SOP is going to exercise some latitude to make an important point. Political guru Gort42 wrote this piece back in 2005.

Erik Knappman vs.Maryanne Petrilla

One of the most important jobs in the county government is the Controller. As anyone who reads this site knows I am a big fan of Steve Flood. The local press have portrayed him as some sort loose cannon. Sometimes we need loose cannons, rabble rousers and bomb throwers. He stepped on the toes of the powers that be and they took him down. We need people that will throw their hands in the air and say stop! He was a stickler for the law and he reminded the Commissioners of it. Thank you Mr. Flood for your service to the taxpayers.

Now we have to decide who will succeed him. I have to admit I don't know much about either candidate. Maryanne Petrilla is the Butler Township manager. I don't know what her responsibilities are, but it sounds like she is the mayor of the town. If so, I would like to hear from somebody who lives there and tell me if the trash is picked up and streets are plowed when it snows. Her opponent is Eric Knappman who had a financial advise show on WILK. He has a construction business and became a certified financial counselor.

I haven't been contacted by either candidate in the mail or any other means. If anyone has more info please send it to me.

Time has more than vindicated Steve Flood. Time has proven him a champion for the taxpayer, an honest and truthful person. And SOP never met Mr. Flood.

Time has also brought into question Petrilla's handling of the Controller's job and what occurred on her watch.

Republican Party of Pennsylvania spokesman Mike Barley released the following statement regarding Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla’s endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

“I find it very interesting that Dan Onorato has chosen to align himself with a Luzerne County Democratic machine that oversaw some of the worst cases of corruption in our nation’s history,” Barley said. “For months, Luzerne County residents have woken up to headlines detailing episodes of Democrat corruption, some of which Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla failed to catch during her time as Controller. It was, after all, under Maryanne Petrilla’s watch, that debit cards were being misused and no-bid contracts were being handed out as political favors. Frankly, her inability to report these glaring problems with Luzerne County government while serving as an elected official makes her incompetent at best.”

“That Dan Onorato would choose to align himself with Maryanne Petrilla and the corrupt Luzerne County Democratic machine should certainly raise some red flags for Pennsylvania voters.”

Looking at a past press release from Kanjorski's office only serves to substantiate pompus rhetoric and lack of substance on the part of Commissioner Petrilla's performance.

WASHINGTON - Yesterday evening, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) and Luzerne County Commissioner Chairman Maryanne C. Petrilla attended the annual official White House picnic hosted by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

"It was an honor to be invited to the White House and I was thrilled that Commissioner Petrilla was able to join," said Congressman Kanjorski. "It was an eventful evening as we had the opportunity to talk with President Obama, Vice President Biden, and many others in a more casual setting. We also had the pleasure of seeing one of our Pennsylvania Senators, Senator Casey."

"I was proud to represent Luzerne County to President Obama and his family," said Commissioner Petrilla. "I greatly appreciated that Congressman Kanjorski gave me the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter in Northeastern Pennsylvania with so many members of the executive and legislative branches of government. And I look forward to making the most of those contacts as I continue to work on behalf Luzerne County's families."

Witness the layoff of county personnel and the property tax hike in Luzerne County. Those contacts worked real well on behalf of Luzerne County families.

Luzerne "Dysfunctional" County

It has been said on the street that Walter Griffith is a nut, plain and simple. I found the man to be somewhat aloof but by no means a nut. The perpetrators of such a claim seem to have an agenda to distract the citizens of Luzerne County from the very shenanigans that seem are "acceptable" to people like Maryanne Petrilla. That claim is made because it is Walter Griffith digging and exposing the inept actions of employees and department heads in the county, not Maryanne, she only responds. Her lack of proactive efforts to straighten out Luzerne County exemplifies why we see the contiuning shameless actions in the press.

In today's edition of the Times Leader Jennifer Learn-Andres details how Griffith exposes a van driver who does not possess a valid driver's license.

Griffith said he sent the county administration an e-mail demanding that the employee be terminated immediately. The employee was removed from driving Friday afternoon, pending further disciplinary review.

“This is a serious issue. This could have put the county in jeopardy,” Griffith said.

The county’s transportation department, operated jointly with Wyoming County, runs vans that provide transportation for the elderly and people with physical and mental disabilities.

County officials declined to name the female employee.

County Chief Clerk/Manager Doug Pape verified that the employee drove a van without a license.

The county had checked the employee’s license in November, and it was clean. Her license was later suspended after she received a ticket, Pape said. He wasn’t sure of the reason for the suspension but said the suspension has since been lifted.

However, the worker’s license expired Feb. 5. She applied for a new license and received it as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, Pape said.

Evidently things in Harrisburg aren't much better. Who did the vetting for the Sheriff nominee in Luzerne County? Had due diligence been performed his property tax situation would have been discovered but then again we are talking about the Rendell administration.

Ace reporter Jennifer Learn-Andes writes another report about the Sheriff nominee and his tax embarassment.

Luzerne County sheriff nominee John Gilligan owed $2,614 in taxes on his Wyoming property from 2008 and 2009.

Gilligan paid the debt around 4 p.m. Friday, shortly after discussing the matter with a reporter.

He acknowledged owing the debt when contacted, saying this was the first time he got behind in his taxes since he purchased the home in 1987.

Gilligan called back later, to say the taxes would be paid that afternoon.

He said he used to pay taxes through his mortgage and didn’t realize that the set-up had changed until he started receiving tax bills.

Gilligan said he appreciated the media inquiry because it prompted him to contact the tax claim office to see how much he owed.

According to tax claim records, Gilligan owed $997.69 from 2008 and $1,616.30 for 2009. Both bills include penalties, interest and costs.

Rep. Ted Poe On Undocumented Guests At White House

For those who have attacked the movement against illegal alien entry into our country:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pennsylvania Workers Here's An Example of Failed Leadership

This summer state employees were pawns in a budget impasse. Here is the advice they received from one of their unions.

PSECU has developed a special 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) PA Budget Impasse Loan*.

Loan Details•0% APR line of credit during the 2009/2010 PA budget impasse and for 60 days after the budget is signed by the Governor. Any remaining balance after that time will begin to accrue interest at a low rate of 3.9% APR.•A $1,000 line of credit will be available on each pay date affected by the impasse. The line of credit will be increased in $1,000 increments every two weeks during the impasse.•No penalty for early repayment.
In Order To Be Eligible, You Must

After you have a PA Budget Impasse Loan set up, it will be available for use on your first affected pay. If your first affected pay is on or before July 17, the loan will follow a bi-weekly cycle starting on the 17th. If your first affected pay is on July 24, the loan will follow a bi-weekly cycle starting on the 24th.

Important: The money is available as a line of credit. You have the option to use - or not use - the money. If you choose to use it, you will need to "advance" your loan into your checking or savings shares.

After you advance your loan into a share, you can use the money to pay loans or access your money with your PSECU Check (debit) Card. You can use the card to withdraw at an ATM and/or make purchases. When using debit with the PSECU Check Card, you must have funds available in your checking shares or your transaction will be declined.

SOP can go on and on but

Luzerne County Hikes Taxes 15%

The Times Leader is reporting that Luzerne County commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Thomas Cooney voted to increase property taxes by 15% this morning.

County taxes will be 5.215 mills, up from last year's 4.5347.

The owner of a $100,000 property would pay about $68 more in county taxes compared to last year, with a bill increasing from $453 to $521. A mill is $1 tax on every $1,000 in assessed property value.

Mr. Cooney initially abstained over an ethics issue but then voted to break a tie which is perfectly legal in accordance with ethics law.

For Ms. Petrilla's part it must be a beautiful thing to make huge mistakes as Controller then be able to cover them up by voting for a tax increase.

To add insult to injury for struggling municipalities tax bill mailings will be delayed as a result of the Luzerne County tax increase according to the Citizen's Voice.

Where are the public calls for Luzerne County to live within its means like Barletta faced in Hazleton? Guess it demonstrates the political undertones orchestrated by the Democratic powers to be.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Jeff Foreman from the Michael Veon Bonusgate trial:

Quote of the day: Foreman: "I have knowledge of all the things that I know about."

Another tweet from Tracie Mauriello at the trial:

Attorneys are standing up to raise objections so often that one courtroom observer quips it's like Whack-a-Mole

Why Bloggers Are So Successful

From Richard Baehr on the American Thinker:

Mainstream Media and the Hypocrite's Oath

The ultimate hypocrisy is the claim that journalism today is concerned with reporting and bringing the news to readers or viewers. Mainstream journalism is in fact more often concerned with influencing. Journalists believe they have special insight into what needs to happen (in an election for instance), and they want to be players in bringing it about, rather than passively serving as scorekeepers. Every day is a daily game of going through the motions to satisfy the minimal requirements for journalism —— paragraphs, sentence structure, headlines, and reporting some basic news. But the real effort is driven by a different motivation —— to deliver a message, without being too blatant about appearing to. This involves deliberate errors of omission (stories not written), and commission, including lies and distortions, and misleading headlines. Mistakes on the front page are sometimes corrected, and when they are, the correction appears many days later. Many fewer people will read the correction than the original misinformation.

Eachus's Name Is Mentioned Again In Bonusgate

During today's proceedings in the Mike Veon trial regarding Bonusgate Todd Eachus's name surfaced once again, although not quite as a participant. Here is the tweet from Tracie Mauriello of the Post Gazette regarding the testimony:

37 minutes ago from web In one e-mail, Cott & other staffers discuss a $2,000 campaign contribution Laura Kuller dropped off. #bonusgate

Kuller was a lobbyist at the time. She now is chief of staff to Democratic Leader Todd Eachus. #bonusgate

Eachus has not been charged in this investigation although he was "invited" to testify before the Grand Jury investigating political corruption in both the House and Senate.

Kanjorski Wants To Regulate Big Banks

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letters To Kanjorski

From the site it appears letters to Paul Kanjorski have been less than favorable towards him.

President Barack Obama
Sen. Robert Casey
Rep. Paul Kanjorski
Sen. Arlen Specter

December 22, 2009




Congressman John Murtha Dies

The Huffington Post is reporting that Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha died this afternoon from complications of recent surgery.

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in February of 1974, Murtha dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. A former Marine, he became the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to the U.S. Congress.

Eachus To Face Attorney Toolhil In 116th Race

Times Leader Photo

The Times Leader is reporting that Attorney Tarah Toolhil from Drums threw her hat in the ring to challenge Rep. Todd Eachus for his seat in the 116th District.

Until recently Toolhil was a registered Democrat. She switched to Republican recently after receiving nothing but snubs from the Democratic party.

There are many issues that she can raise in this race but it appears her first is the absence of leadership and support from Harrisburg for her district.

For Eachus he will most likely raise the issue of senority and his majority leader post. The fact that under his leadership Pennsylvania is broke and went 101 days before an agreement was reached only to have key portions drag on will make his case less than believable.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Breaking News-Big Ugly Closed

From The Times Leader

Bar owned by former commissioner's father closed

WILKES-BARRE - A bar in Wilkes-Barre owned by former Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak's father is closed for business. The parking lot of the Big Ugly's Bar and Grill was vacant Saturday afternoon as a sign written in a blue and black marker notified potential patrons that it was closed. The sign that was taped to the door said "Closed until further notice" and was signed "Mr. Skrep." It is unknown how long the establishment has been closed. For more information, read Sunday's The Times Leader.

Best of Late-Night Political Comedy - ABC News

Best of Late-Night Political Comedy - ABC News

Washington Welcome: Scott Brown Sworn In - ABC News

Washington Welcome: Scott Brown Sworn In - ABC News

E*Trade Babies Gotta Love Em

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bonusgate Trial- Accustations Fly High And Other Tidbits

Defense lawyers wanted a mistrial. Prosecutors fired back. Judge sets speed limit in courtroom to "55 miles per hour". Mario F. Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about yesterday's court manuvers.

In other developments charged Representative Bill DeWeese announced he will seek reelection according to Tom Barnes at the Post Gazette.

Former school director Frank Pizzella Jr. plead guilty to passing a $5,000 bribe in a job hiring of a teacher Pizzella knew. Read Terri Morgan-Besecker's article in the Times Leader.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mr. Paige Where Do You Get Your Water From?

This evening Chris Paige is going to hold a Town Hall meeting at the Elks Lodge in Hazleton to speak about the plan to sell the HCA water department by the City of Hazleton.

Mr. Paige,,so where do you get your water from? You see, according to FEC documents Mr. Paige lives in Skytop Meadows which is part of the Skytop Lodge environment.

According to a real estate official at Skytop Lodge Skytop Meadows was originally their development. The water is supplied by their PRIVATE water system which includes wells and a water tank.

So Mr. Paige has the audacity to come to Hazleton to tell its people that the City should not sell the water assets to a private company while he is serviced by a private entity. If that doesn't take balls nothing does.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Statewide Newsworthy Stories

Lou Barletta discusses the tax implications regarding the sale of the water assets of the Hazleton City Authority in the Standard Speaker written by Kent Jackson.

Hazleton will begin layoffs in May Although property taxes were raised by about $10.00 per month on $100,000 assessment layoffs were necessary in this year's fiscal budget according to Mary Ellen Leib,acting director of adminstration.

Michael Manzo has plenty to say about the Bonusgate investigation during testimony in the Michael Veon et al trial proceeding in Harrisburg. His wife, Rachel, was an employee of Rep. Todd Eachus who denies knowing about the bonuses.

Pennsylvania American Water acquires the assets of the Nittany Water Company expanding its footprint to 36 counties statewide.

Senator Mellow becomes a renewed target of the watchdogs over rent payments and "cash" payments made over nine years

Lost Tax Revenue In Hazleton

Mr. Paige makes the assertion that taxes became stagnant during his opponent's tenure as Mayor. Since Mr. Paige moved to Pennsylvania in 2006 it is highly unlikely that he is up to speed on issues affecting Hazleton. He appears to be relying on the political pundits that consistently lack factual information.

Let's examine the mercantile tax as one part of the equation. Businesses have moved out of the Hazleton boundaries that reduces its revenue contribution. To name a few- a new $20 million dollar Health and Wellnees Center by the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance, Physicians such as Hazleton Pediatrics, Janney Montgomery Scott brokerage firm,

St. Joseph's Hospital closed its 111 bed facility. CAN-DO is attracting the large industries to its' parks in Hazle and Butler Township. KOZ designations inside the City have reduced property and earned income tax payments to the City.

While many new businesses decided to locate in Hazleton, their tax revenue was no match for the lost revenue by such big payers as the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance physicians and a brokerage firm. It would take hundreds of mom and pop grocery stores to pay the amount of revenue lost over the years.

Once again, Mr. Paige is reckless with his assertions but it is no surprise to SOP.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Page In Congress

Is it a pisser that a Paige wants to go to Congress?

An Education For Chris Paige

Mr. Paige decided to respond to my post with more ridiculous assertions that only prove he is being prodded and supported by his Democratic friends. Mr. Paige's apparent lack of knowledge on municipal government is almost hilarious.

Mr. Paige, let's answer you one by one....I am typing very slowwwww so it will be easy for him to understand...

Does he deny that Mayor Barletta raised property taxes, income taxes, and garbage fees? Mr. Paige missed the class on Council Plan B which is Hazleton's form of government.  Hazleton City Council sets the tax rates, not the Mayor.  SOP hopes Mr. Paige learns more about the 11th district.

Does he deny that Hazleton's property tax revenues, income tax revenues, and business tax revenues stagnated under Mayor Barletta? Mayor Barletta warned of the consequences in 2006 regarding the illegal immigration that was occuring in Hazleton. He complained then as now that revenues were not increasing while the population surged. Of course 2006 was about the time Mr. Paige moved to Pennsylvania?

But there is not only one about the economy or has Mr. Paige been asleep the last year and half. It must be hard for a hedge fund attorney to appreciate those who lost their jobs and their homes and the economic impact those circumstances would have on municipalities, not just Hazleton, but all over the country. Of course hedge funds are only for the millionares.

Does he deny that the Altamont Hotel became a halfway house during Barletta's administration? See, e.g., Mia Light, "City Keeping an Eye on MinSec," Standard Speaker, November 7, 2009.

Mr. Paige stated in his blog that Barletta "brought a halfway house for criminals to a downtown hotel...where does the article state that action by Barletta? He also states that he attracted the halfway house to the Altamont Hotel...again where are his facts? My opinion, Mr. Paige is very reckless with his statements...well on reflection maybe more desparate.

Here is a link to the article Paige cites and what Barletta had to say about MinSec--"Both the chief and I, if we had our preference, MinSec would be in some other place. I personally wish we had a Fortune 500 company there rather than MinSec. But it is where it is. And so we are trying to deal with the realities of what it is and what it is not, what is truth and what is exaggeration," Barletta said. Why does he mistate the facts? Is it intentional? Mr. Barletta's quotes certainly don't indicate he favors MinSec.

Does he deny that Mayor Barletta supports plans to open a methadone clinic in Hazleton? Again..Mr. in the past he was wrong with his statements and today is no different...WHERE ARE HIS FACTS??? Where is his evidence that Barletta supports the opening??

Does he deny that Hazleton Creek will be filled with experimental toxic waste? Mr. Paige evidently doesn't know that DEP stated the material is safe.
DEP Approves Hazleton Creek’s Use of Regulated Fill at Mine Reclamation Site

HARRISBURG (July 31) -- The Department of Environmental Protection has approved Hazleton Creek Properties LLC’s general permit to use regulated fill for construction activities at a land reclamation project in Hazleton, Luzerne County.

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

...and a hedge fund attorney is trying to state it is toxic...the only thing toxic is the information Mr. Paige tries to present as fact....

Remain silent...well how did that work out for you??

GoDaddy & Lola Banned From Super Bowl- You Decide

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chris Paige Is Trying To Get Noticed

Here has been the YAWN response to his ramblings:

Although he has declared he wants to run for office the nominating petitions are not even circulated yet. Why should Lou Barletta take him seriously? His blog is exactly that and no more until then.

Mr. Paige, a couple of questions for a lawyer who should know better.

On your blog you have these statements about Barletta. brought a halfway house for criminals to a downtown hotel, and you've tried to attract a methadone clinic to various sites all over the City

What evidence do you personally possess to back up your ridiculous assertions? Keep in mind that it is you making the claim so if there is to be truth to it let us see your evidence by releasing it to the public.

In case you need a refresher you should keep in mind that while defamatory statements may be protected in court proceedings a lawyer who makes them outside of the courtroom should follow the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct which includes

[5] A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.

Mike Veon et al Trial Starts Today

Joe Hermit Patriot News Photo

His day in court has finally arrived in Harrisburg. In a story found on PennLive from the Associated Press former Representative Mike Veon and three aides will be in court today for the opening of their trial related to charges the media has labeled as "Bonusgate".

The criminal trial of former General Assembly dealmaker Michael R. Veon and three of his ex-aides, which begins in earnest Monday with opening statements in a Harrisburg courtroom, represents a milestone in the attorney general’s three-year public corruption investigation of the Legislature.

The case is also a significant factor in this year’s Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign and should give voters more details about how some of their state lawmakers have balanced their legal obligations with their political ambitions.

A focus of the trial is expected to be testimony by at least some of the seven people, all former House Democratic staffers, who were arrested with Veon and the three others in July 2008 but who recently pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors. The proceedings follow a full acquittal won in December by the only defendant so far to go to trial in the investigation: former state Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver.

The defendants — Veon, 53, once the No. 2 ranking House Democratic leader; campaign guru Brett W. Cott, 37; computer services supervisor Stephen A.H. Keefer, 39; and Veon district office manager Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, 47 — are accused of conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy in what the attorney general’s office alleges was a multimillion-dollar effort to siphon off public resources for private benefit. The trial is expected to last about a month.

For sure this will be a make or break deal for Tom Corbett's polling in his race for Governor of Pennsylvania. He staked his career on making this investigation his statement on government reform.