Friday, April 30, 2010

Tax Loophole Puts Money In Legislator's Pocket

Todd Eachus was recently quoted in an article authored by Robert Swift of the Times-Shamrock as stating "I think the culture of Harrisburg is changing." Swift penned a series about the need to address the excesses of the Pennsylvania Legislature. In the investigative video above Dave Bohman of WNEP highlights another tax break for Pennsylvania legislators that is absolutely not illegal but certainly demonstrates that the culture to take advantage of taxpayer's money is more than alive.

Toohil's Response To Eachus Position On MinSec

Toohil: MinSec’s Promises for Change are Inadequate

(Response to April 30, 2010 Standard Speaker article)

Hazleton, PA – Today, April 30, 2010, it is being reported that “changes are coming to MinSec.” These changes, such as phasing out the pre-release program, improving management of the facility, and imposing stricter standards for permitting residents to leave on pass, were previously reported. New promises for change seem to have bought the facility more time. However, it is questionable as to what has really changed. Tarah Toohil, candidate for State Representative in the 116th Legislative District, looked to the facts. The reality is that during this month, the list of incidents continued to grow.

April 3, 2010 Police apprehend Edward E. Hardee, 48, one day after he failed to return to MinSec by his 4 p.m. curfew. MinSec employees finally reported him missing at 12:48 a.m. Nearly nine hours after he had absconded.

April 5, 2010 Jeffrey P. Wright, 30, another MinSec resident, is reported to have admitted to robbing M&T Bank, 223 W. Broad Street. Wright is speculated to have absconded on either April 5th or April 6th.

April 8, 2010 A MinSec resident accessed pornography on a City Hall computer causing the computer to contract a virus which had to be removed by a computer technician.

April 12, 2010 Police report that Jeffrey P. Wright and an accomplice attempted to rob three different banks within walking distance of MinSec: First National Community Bank, PNC Bank, and M&T Bank.

Toohil stated, "If MinSec has made changes as they claim, these changes are obviously insufficient. The reality is that MinSec’s residents are a danger to our city. How many crimes must be committed in order for the state to realize that MinSec is not doing its job?" MinSec has hired a spokesperson to improve community relations. State funding should not be used to hire a spokesperson for MinSec. Toohil argued that the state funding should be used to protect the community from MinSec’s residents. .

Tarah Toohil said, "It is obvious that MinSec’s residents pose a real threat to our public safety. All of these fancy answers and promises for change are not enough to overlook the harm that MinSec has brought to our community and is still bringing. MinSec’s state funding must be halted. In the interim, this minimum security prison should be put on lockdown until its administrators figure out how to control the problems that are continually arising."

Eachus Tries To Fool People About MinSec

There is one sure thing about an election year. So much posturing goes on that one needs to separate out fact from fiction.

In a report filed by Kelly Monitz of the Standard Speaker today Todd Eachus trie to stake claim for changes purportedly coming to the MinSec facility located in downtown Hazleton. The headline is fitting "Change coming to MinSec". Yeah right just like Obama promised change. It happened it wasn't the change the people expected or wanted.

Here's what hockey puck looks like. The state Department of Corrections agreed to make changes at a halfway house in Hazleton's downtown following House Majority Leader Todd Eachus' call for the state to terminate its contract with MinSec Companies earlier this month.

Pre-release cases will no longer be placed at the facility, Eachus said. Those on pre-release are finishing the remainder of their sentences in a halfway house, rather than in prison

Now here is the fact from an April 14, 2010 article written by the same reporter. Barletta, who questioned the facility, met with officials from the state Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and MinSec last week to discuss problems and crimes in the community.

The DOC did give the city some reassurances regarding other issues at the facility, and promised changes would be made, Barletta said.

Some of those changes include not allowing MinSec to develop the last floor in the historical Altamont Building at 145 W. Broad St., and discontinuing the practice of sending pre-release cases to the facility, the mayor said.

MinSec had accepted men on parole and in pre-release program, in which an inmate finishes out the last of his state sentence in the halfway house, instead of prison. Pre-releases will be phased out, Barletta said.

The company will also be stricter on giving out passes to go into the community, limit personal time and change the curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m., except for those men who work second or third shift, he said.

But these are issues between the Department of Corrections and MinSec, Barletta said. The city's issue remains zoning, he said.
It was Barletta, not Eachus, who secured the assurances for the City. How Eachus could try to hoodwink the public when the documentation states otherwise speaks to his real character.

There is another problem that Eachus fails to address over MinSec's operation. MinSec hired a public relations person, Kate Philips, who had served as Gov. Ed Rendell's press secretary, earlier this month. She could not be reached for comment for this story.

According to this article from Monitz in February Pennsylvania taxpayers will be paying for that public relations person. The facility, which is contracted by the state Department of Corrections to provide community corrections services,

Also in that article it chronicles the crime spree that occured over a period of time from MinSec occupants.

MinSec came into the limelight, though, after a series of burglaries in the area were linked to residents who walked off from the facility or returned to crime after their release. In addition, a resident was picked up in Hazleton then murdered in Lackawanna County last summer by gang members from Scranton.

One former resident blamed the facility's lax security and poor rehabilitation services for his relapse into drugs and crime following 16 years in prison.

According to this article written once again by Monitz back in October, 2009 Eachus wrote a letter to the Department of Corrections with his concerns. The big question for Eachus is why he didn't scream and holler while these crimes were being committed since that letter was written.

The latest article on Eachus and MinSec seem to gloriy him.  Maybe bias isn't only part of the Wilkes Barre media.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Incumbent Protection Plan?? Or Business As Usual

SOP was mailed a computer generated email allegedly sent by Representative Todd Eachus to Democratic Members and Legisaltive Assistants on Monday, November 9, 2009. Here are the contents of that telecommunication.

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 legislative districts. These reports detail the impact of the 2009-19 budget and were intended to serve as the foundation for Members' budget outreach with constituents and the 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 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,(his misspelling) 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.


This memo smells of political protection that it should have arrived in a tuna can. Todd, how about answering these questions:

1. Why were the initial reports only tailored for "selected individual legistlative districts"? Was that the first group of Democratic Legislators who you thought would have primary trouble?

2. How do you separate and deny political maneuvering with data on state owned computers when you state "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"?

3. Are you trying to proffer to the public that elected legislators in Harrisburg do not know how to reach their constituents and the press-"and a document delineating several outreach options that the Legislative Communications Office can help you execute"? How in the heck did they get elected in the first place?

4. Is the Legislative Communications Office to be used for political purposes like you used them to develop the video for Gladstone Partners and your fantasy cargo airport?

5. Do you have spell check on your computer?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bill Goldsworthy condemns Dems' raiding of MCare Fund

Here is a press release by Bill Goldsworthy running in the 120th District.

Bill Goldsworthy

For State Representative 120th District

Contact: 570-237-1810

On April 16 the Pennsylvania taxpayers were dealt another blow – thanks to Rep. Phyllis Mundy and the House Democratic Leadership.

To balance last year’s budget, Mundy voted with the House Democrats to raid a Medical Trust Fund (MCare Fund) which was established by doctors (your Doctors) and medical facilities to cover exorbitant medical malpractice claims. This money was supposed to be held by the state in a trust fund. But the trust has been broken!!

House Democrats took the entire $100 million from MCare along with another $750 million from the Health Care Providers Retention Account to balance the state budget – the one that was 101 days late. Doctors and the medical facilities are outraged – and rightfully so.

Taxpayers should be outraged too, because on April 16 the Commonwealth Court agreed with the Pennsylvania Medical Society and Hospital Association that the state wrongfully used this money and ordered it to be returned to the trust fund.

And rightfully so – it is their money. They placed it in the fund.
But while Commonwealth Court has reversed this terrible wrong by the Democrats, we, the taxpayers, face a dilemma again.

This creates another huge funding gap for next year’s budget. This $800 million, plus the projected shortfall of $1 billion for this year, the non-acceptance of tolls along Interstate 80 ($500 million), adds up to a total shortfall of $2 billion-plus.

All thanks to Mundy and the House Democrats.

The Pennsylvania budget has grown by approximately 45 percent over the past eight years, even though the inflation rate was about 24 percent.

They just don’t get it! The answer to our financial woes is not irresponsible spending and the raiding of trust funds.

Controlled and reduced spending is the way to balance the budget.

A Story Of Hearfelt Compassion and Empathy

On April 20, 2010 the Hazleton Standard Speaker published this story written by Jim Dino that chronicles a story about 7-year-old Omar and 3-year-old Elijah Sanes, brothers who died in a fire at their Manhattan Court, Hazleton, home in April, 2007. Hazleton Firefighters donated a tombstone for the gravesite of the children because the family could not memorialize their loved ones.

On Monday, the third anniversary of the boys' deaths, the Sanes family joined Hazleton firefighters in dedicating the tombstone, which rests near a driveway on the grassy southern end of St. Gabriel's Cemetery, Hazleton Heights.

"This beautiful stone shows two angels looking down on us. They watch down on us every day," said Hazleton Fire Chief Donald Leshko, whose department solicited donations after learning the family could not afford the tombstone. "Three years ago, this department endured one of its hardest days. They will always be part of our family. We are grateful that you allow us to be part of your family. You will always be a part of our family."

The original story about this sad tragedy is captured at this link to the Hazleton Fire Department.

April 19, 2007 0026: City fire crews dispatched to 598-599 Manhattan Court for a reported structure fire with unknown entrapment. While responding to the alarm, city firefighters were notified by firefighter Joel Mumie that he had a working structure fire with confirmed multiple entrapments. Engine 2 with Firefighter James Sharp arrived on location and was met by Mumie. Mumie raised a 14 ft roof ladder to the front porch of the duplex and Sharp raised a ladder to a second story window where a little boy was seen prior to our arrival. Mumie assisted by FF Carl Stempert (who lives at 598 Manhattan Ct.) rescued a pregnant female from the second floor front bedroom and took her to safety on the porch roof, Mumie was advised by the female that her 11 month old baby was in the crib in her bed room, he entered and did a quick search for the baby. Engine 5 arrived and went to assist the crews working. DC Mandak called for an additional Engine to be put in service and Engine 3 to the scene. Engine 5 dropped a 4” supply line from Engine 2 to a near by hydrants. Ladder 1 arrived with FF Kevin Ruby and FF Sam Altmiller. FF Altmiller went to assist Mumie, Stempert and Ruby went to the D side to assist Sharp. Ruby, Sharp assisted with FF Thomas Tutko repositioned the ladder and Ruby tried to enter the second floor window and conditions were unbearable. While on the ladder a first floor window under him failed and Ruby had to bail off the extension ladder. While the crews working on side D were making there attempts, Mumie cleared the room before it got unbearable and had to bail onto the roof. The child was taken out of the home by his father. After unsuccessful attemps two crews was assembled one of FF’s John Paletski III, Sam Altmiller and another of David Fatula, Joe Jones and Ruby. Paletski and Altmiller with out the portection of a with a hose line made the second floor and went to the right and search a computer room and was in the attic when the front room flashed over. Fatula, Jones and Ruby enter with a hose line and made there way to the second floor where they encounted a heavy fire load in the hallway. Jones entered the first room on their left and found the two boys in there bedroom. The hose line was handed off to a crew entering and Fatula Jones and Ruby removed the boys to awaiting crews outside. Ruby and Jones gave the 7year old boy to FF Era Gould. Gould and Fatula brought both children to awaiting APTS EMS. Paramedic and EMT’S both from APTS and the City Fire Department and surrounding areas worked on the children and were transported to Hazleton General Hospital. Fire crew quickly extinguished the fire and overhauled. Extention to the 598 address was kept very minimal. ER staffs continued to work the two boys but were unsuccessful and pronounced at the hospital. The parents and 11 month old were transported to HGH and then where airlifted to Lehigh Valley Medical Center Burn unit. City crews were on scene till day break. State Police with City Fire and Police Departments investigated the fire and determined it to be a cooking accident. Funds have been set up for both families:

Sanes Family Fund
c/o PNC Bank
Church Hill Mall Branch
1063 North Church Street
Hazleton, PA 18202.

Stempert Family Fire Fund
C/O PNC Bank
7th + Church St. Branch
Hazleton, Pa. 18201

Hazleton Firefighters never stopped thinking of this family nor their enormous loss.

Well-known radio and TV personality and veteran Leo Valovich said firefighters have been touched by the tragedy.

" 'Til this day, many of the firefighters who were on the scene the night of the fire have a difficult time talking about it," Valovich said.

Valovich said firefighters stayed in touch with the family, and learned through a conversation with Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Jones the family did not have the money to pay for a headstone.

"This set Shawn into action," Valovich said. "Shawn spoke to vice president and firefighter Tony Colombo, and the decision was made to go to each of the five fire companies in the city, and ask for a donation to pay for a headstone for Omar and Elijah."

Valovich said they enlisted the assistance of the president of the Heights Volunteer Fire Co., firefighter Joe Bugda, who wrote a letter that was sent to numerous area businesses.

"The response was outstanding," Valovich said. "Local companies stepped up and donated equipment needed for the task. Numerous individuals donated their time to help in any way possible. The monetary donations were unbelievable."

The Rev. Patrick Genello, pastor of Holy Rosary Church, blessed the stone, which was made by Evans Cemetery Memorials, Tower City, Schuylkill County. James Sweeny played the bagpipes, and James Sabatella played taps on the trumpet.

"I know the boys are looking down on us now," said Mari-Ivette Sanes. "We may have lost them, but we've gained an extended family in the Hazleton firefighters. We appreciate everything you did that night and today."

Last night the family of these young children thanked the city firefighters by serving a dinner to them at the South Side Station located on East Broad Street in Hazleton Jim Dino writes a follow up story

Jose and Mari-Ivette Sanes didn't feel a simple "thank you" was enough.

So, on Monday night, they served a dinner to Hazleton firefighters to thank them for their recent donation of a headstone for their two sons, Omar and Elijah, who died in a fire at the family home three years ago.

But the "thank you" wasn't only for the tombstone, she said.

"It was not only for the headstone, but for their efforts on the night of the fire," Mrs. Sanes said. "How do you thank people for risking their lives to try to save your children? A simple 'thank you' didn't seem like enough."

Mayor Lou Barletta, who also attended the dinner at the South Side Station on East Broad Street, said he understood what the Sanes felt.

"It was a gesture to the firefighters, who worked so gallantly to save those boys," Barletta said. "If you talk to the firefighters, they would say they were doing their jobs. But I know the loss of Omar and Elijah touched every member of the fire company, as it did every member of our community."

It is a tragic story with a blessed ending. One can do nothing but have a heavy heart for the tragedy this family has endured, suffered, and will carry on their shoulders and in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SB1070 Arizona

To end the inaccuracies fostered on the airwaves especially WILK here is a summary from the Arizona Legislature pertaining to its SB1070 recently passed and commonly referred to, incorrectly, as their Immigration Law. Read it and decide for yourself what the real and imaginary provisions are. Here are two parts that are
often maligned, hence an attempt to disseminate the truth.

Requires officials and agencies to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful contact where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.

Stipulates that a law enforcement official or agency cannot solely consider race, color or national origin when implementing these provisions, except as permitted by the U.S. or Arizona Constitution.

Claims of racial profiling are completely bogus. Every officer knows it would invite a civil rights lawsuit.

Here is another section that demonstrates this law is aimed at criminals not dad, mom, and children.

Makes a first offense a class 1 misdemeanor.

· Increases the penalty to a class 3 felony if the person commits the offense while in possession of:

Ø A dangerous drug (A.R.S. § 13-3401).

Ø Precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine (A.R.S. § 13-3404.01).

Ø A deadly weapon (A.R.S. § 13-3101).

Ø A dangerous instrument (A.R.S. § 13-105).

Ø Property used for committing an act of terrorism (A.R.S. § 13-2308.01).

· Makes violations a class 4 felony if either:

Ø It is a second or subsequent violation.

Ø Within 60 days, the person has been removed from the U.S. either under 8 U.S.C. § 1229a or 8 U.S.C. § 1229c.

Keep in mind that it is federal law that foreigners must carry their papers with them at all times. It is no different that when we visit a foreign country. In the past your driver's license and birth certificate gained entry into Mexico. Today you must have a passport. But America is picking on the Mexicans???


Kanjorski's Donations There Outta Here- Well His District Anyway

According to this article in the Pennsylvania Independent Paul Kanjorski found 57% of his campaign money outside the borders of Pennsylvania.

According to a map of congressional districts, Paul Kanjorski (D), the 13-term Congressional incumbent, officially represents the people of northeast Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district. But Mr. Kanjorski's campaign wallet tells a different story, with 57 percent of personal contributions toward his re-election campaign coming from outside the state.

Mr. Kanjorski's case, funds come from 30 different states. During the current election cycle, he has received more than $46,000 from people in New York and more than $34,000 from people in Washington, along with donations from as far away as Ogden, Utah, and San Diego, California. Of his $116,000 in contributions from inside Pennsylvania, nearly $70,000 has come from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh combined, and neither of those cities are part of Mr. Kanjorski's congressional district.

"This is further evidence that Paul Kanjorski does not have any support on the ground from this congressional district," said Vince Galko, a spokesman for one of Mr. Kanjorski's potential Republican opponents in November, Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta.

P.S. One fact not noticed on the initial post. Look at the money Joe Sestak raised compared to Paul Kanjorski. So much for seniority.

Musto To Remain Silent

Under the advisement of his attorney Senator Ray Musto has no comment on a visit from the FBI to his home recently. Mike Sisak of the Citizen's Voice writes that Musto's attorney John Riley offered these words to the media "We are not going to conduct things in the public arena,"

Anyone who has faced investigations knows that is the best advice an attorney can give any client regardless of guilt or innocence. The public's appetite for information is relegated to a seat in the back of the bus so that justice can be properly applied. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Skrepenak Gets To Remain Free A Little Longer

The Times Leader is reporting that Greg Skrepenak gets another date with the court. Judge Conaboy is postponing his sentencing on corruption charges born out of the biggest scandal to hit Luzerne County for a second time to give federal probation officials more time to complete their pre-sentencing reports. In all likelihood Skrepenak will stay inside the prison walls for 33 to 41 months after pleading guilty to accepting $5,000 from a developer who received a county-backed loan. What a turnaround from a great college and NFL career to the end of what was looking like a career in politics. (Let's see...Skrep says "I have contacts in the NFL"...nahh I think the contacts in Luzerne County are better...) It is time for a new system of government but from what is being said the Luzerne County Government Study Commission is creating a hybrid of what is already in place.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Judge Hugh Mundy To Retire

Just when Luzerne County's compliment of judges was returning to normal Judge Hugh Mundy announces his retirement today. In this article from Dave Janoski and the Citizen's Voice Mundy indicates health issues were the deciding factor but he will continue to hear cases as a senior judge.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pennsylvania's Legislature Needs To Go On A Diet

Back in October, 2009 SOP highlighted a petition drive to reduce the size of Pennsylvania's legislature. In February, 2009 SOP opined in this piece Can We Really Afford The Pennsylvania Legislature Staffing

With the May primary coming soon Robert Swift of the Standard Speaker Harrisburg Bureau filed this report today Pennsylvania near top of lists for largest, most costly legislatures. SOP used data from for its posts but the data was from 2005. Swift brings us closer to today's cost using 2008 data although some are more current.

The NCSL report shows that Pennsylvania, while sixth in population, has a legislative branch of 253 lawmakers and 2,918 support staff, dwarfing those of larger, more populous states.

No other state even comes close to the size of its legislative operation.

And the cost shows.

Only California outspent Pennsylvania on its legislature in 2008-09, said the NCSL, which used 2008 U.S. Census data for its report. Even then, it wasn't by much.

With 120 lawmakers and 2,067 legislative staffers, California spent $336 million on its legislative branch, compared to Pennsylvania's $319 million. But California, the most populous state in the nation, had 36.5 million people in 2008. Pennsylvania had 12.5 million.

And the drop-off in cost after Pennsylvania is dramatic.

The nation's third most expensive full-time legislature, New York, has 212 lawmakers and a support staff of 2,676. It spent $216 million in 2008-09, more than $100 million less than Pennsylvania, the NCSL reports.

The fourth, Florida, has only 160 lawmakers with a support staff of 1,457, the NCSL reports. It spent $175 million in 2008-09. Florida's population was 18.4 million in 2008, the NCSL noted. New York had 19.4 million people.

States with populations closer to Pennsylvania, like Ohio at 11.5 million and Illinois at 12.8 million, spent far less on their legislatures. Illinois spent $71 million; Ohio, $48 million. Illinois has 177 lawmakers and 980 staffers. Ohio has 132 legislators and 465 staffers.

The difference between full-time and part-time legislatures is even more stark.

Texas, for instance, with a 2008 population of 24.3 million, has the largest of all part-time legislatures in the country with 181 lawmakers and a legislative staff of 2,090. It spent $126 million in 2008-09, according to the NCSL.

Officially, New Hampshire has the largest state assembly in the country with a delegation of 424 lawmakers. But it, too, is part-time. With a support staff of only 147 people, it spent only $14 million on its legislature in 2008-09.

Only 10 of the country's 50 legislatures are considered full time.

The NCSL defines a part-time legislature as one in which delegates spend 50 percent or less of a work week on their legislative duties. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers spend an average of 80 percent of their work week in Harrisburg or their home offices, it says.

Legislative leaders took the recommendation and, beginning in the 1970s, the public began electing candidates who promised to be full-time legislators. Part of the consequences is that the legislative bureaucracy swelled from 532 staffers in 1969, to 1,700 in 1984 and close to 3,000 in 2003 while the number of lawmakers remains fixed at 203 House members and 50 senators.

By 2008, the legislative expense involved translated into a cost of $25.40 a year for every man, woman and child in the state. It was the third highest per capita cost in the nation, behind Alaska at $57.72 and Rhode Island at $26.79.

New York's per capita cost, meanwhile, came to $11.11 in 2008 while California, by virtue of its large population, came to $9.19

The base salary for legislators in both houses of Pennsylvania's General Assembly is $78,314 a year, fourth highest in the nation, behind California at $95,291, Michigan at $79,650 and New York at $79,500.

Salaries, however, are only a part of the actual costs. Factoring in health and pension benefits and other expenses, the real cost of the average legislator climbs to $125,000 to $150,000, depending on how much a legislator claims in reimbursements

In 2006 the League of Women Voters testified before the House State Government Committee supporting a reduction in the size of the legislature. The Commonwealth Foundation testified before the same committee in 2008. Newstalk Radio 1240 discussed this issue on its airwaves. This editorial appeared in the Delco Times calling for a reduction in the size of the legislature.

The voters should share some blame for this out of control spending. When will the taxpayer backlash and anger reach a height like the pay raise scandal to toss out the incumbents and force reform to reduce the size of the legislture? If there was only a "Jenny Craig" for government. Maybe the "fat cats" living high off the hog will finally get the message.

Friday, April 23, 2010

From The Borys Blog- Small Biden Crowd

Greetings from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport where Vice President Joseph Biden is about to speak.
This is one of the smallest crowds I’ve ever seen for someone of his stature. Only about 200 people in a half-filled hangar, most of them local politicians or the politically active or just volunteers for U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s re-election campaign.
His opposition is actually here, too. Veterans who back Rep. Joe Sestak hosted a news conference outside the hangar, criticizing Mr. Specter for running a television commercial that basically says the congressman was fired from his last major naval post.
Bill Walsh, 57, a retired U.S. Navy Captain from Delaware County and a classmate of Mr. Sestak from the Naval Academy, was planning to try to give Mr. Biden a letter from Mr. Sestak urging the vice president to tell Mr. Specter to pull the commercial.

We wrote about it today so I won’t bore you with the details. Needless to say the Sestak vets were upset about it as they have been all week.
“I thought it was despicable, quite frankly,” Mr. Walsh said. “I thought it was desperate and it was completely unfair.”

He later added he was also planning to try to thank the vice president for the service in Iraq by one of Mr. Biden’s sons.

Kanjorski Insults Military Personnel- Calls Them "Bureaucrats"

The Campaign Spot filed this report yesterday "Those Brave Bureaucrats, Enduring the Dangers of the Battlefields of Europe"

Republican Lou Barletta notices that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski, has an exceptionally broad definition of "bureaucrat."

Kanjorski, on Steve Corbett's radio show:

KANJORSKI: I know it's nice to campaign against lobbyists, its . . . in the same way it's nice to campaign against quote bureaucrats, but the reality is the bureaucrat you're campaigning against is the guy that delivers your mail every day. It's the guy that is protecting us over in the battlefields of Europe, these . . . uh . . . or the Middle East. These are all the people that perform governmental functions whether they be in the military of the civilian force of the United States.
Barletta remarks:

He actually said that the brave men and women serving in our military are bureaucrats. Personally, I think they are heroes — citizen soliders who volunteer to protect our way of life. I guess after 26 years of living in Washington, Kanjorski either sees people as bureaucrats or funding sources.

But I would just note . . . which "battlefields of Europe" was Kanjorski thinking of? Kosovo? Normandy? Verdun?

Rogers Allegations Refuted In Original Public Document Filed By DEP

On the Community News portion of the Department of Environmental Resources Northeast Region page there is a document titled "HCP Comment & Response Document (PDF)". If you click on that link the 57 page document the following opening paragraph reads

On October 24, 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began a thirty-day public comment period on a registration for a residual waste general permit submitted by Hazleton Creek Properties, LLC (HCP). The application is for a research and development project involving the use of construction and demolition fines and regulated fill in mine reclamation and as construction material. Comments were received from the 712 commentators listed at the end of this document. Relevant comments derived from written comments received during the public comment period have been summarized below. Comments are representative of single or multiple commentators. Department responses are provided for each comment or grouping of comments.

The last sentence tells all. Here are some of the comments and responses.

4. Comment:
25 Pa. Code 287.611(e)(3) states that DEP will not issue a general permit for “the use of residual waste to fill open pits from coal or noncoal mining except for coal ash mixed with residual waste … .” (89)

DEP can waive or modify this provision in accordance with Section 287.632.

With regards to Todd Eachus's persistent claim that a liner MUST be put on the site read the next comment:

5. Comment:
The failure of HCP to install a liner, along with a leachate collection and treatment system, to protect the groundwater creates a great risk to the health and safety of the City of Hazleton, since the general permit is for the R&D of new, untested technology. (89, 92, 93, 672, 673, 675, 678, 680)

Mine reclamation projects do not require a liner or other containment systems, since the proposed chemical limits are considered protective without the need of a liner system. If approved, the authorization to operate under the general permit would include a number of safeguards, such as sampling and analysis of the incoming materials, groundwater monitoring and regular reporting, to ensure that problems, though not expected, would be quickly identified and addressed.

SOP has pointed out the Times Leader reporters that there isn't enough material on site to remediate and reclaim the land.

6. Comment:
Normally, mine reclamation is accomplished using available on-site overburden (mine spoil) for backfilling. (89)

There is not enough on-site overburden to properly reclaim the site. Typically, additional materials are needed to complete remediation at any mine site.

With regards to the scientific evidence claim by Rogers that “There is abundant scientific data already available that provides evidence of environmental degradation and harm when solid waste is disposed of as proposed by HCP,” he concluded Take a look at these comments and responses.

8. Comment:
How these materials react to the physical environment is not known. (89)

This is part of the information that will be attained through the R&D project. It is not anticipated that the placement of these materials will negatively impact or harm the environment. The R & D project will produce data to evaluate the ability of regulated fill and construction and demolition fines to perform as a construction material.

9. Comment:
Research projects typically include extensive baseline analyses of the geology, hydrogeologic conditions, and water quality at the site. It is our understanding that such extensive analyses have not been done. (89)

An extensive baseline environmental report has been done at this site by Groundwater Sciences Corporation in 2004. In addition, an enhanced groundwater monitoring plan was developed for this site and additional groundwater monitoring data has already been generated by HCP.

Eachus tried to tell the public that Geologits Robert Gadinski's report was correct.

Mark McClellan of Evergreen Environmental, Inc., a consultant for Hazleton Creek Properties, had these remarks regarding Gadinski's report. "Everything Mr. Gadinski claimed here is erroneous, untrue and an absolute misrepresentation of the facts," DEP responds to Mr. Gadinsk's comments in its report.

The report issued by Mr. Gadinski suggests that the present groundwater monitoring plan at the site is woefully inadequate and is inconsistent with DEP’s Groundwater Guidance Manual. (89, 92, 93, 565, 672, 673, 675, 684)
Until HCP can propose a monitoring system that is approved by a third-party, it is irresponsible to place experimental dredged material and construction and demolition fines so close to our homes. (678)

The current enhanced groundwater monitoring plan for this site was developed by HCP and approved by DEP as a result of an appeal of General Permit Number WMGR085D001 by Citizen Advocates United to Safeguard the Environment (CAUSE) to the Environmental Hearing Board. Prior to DEP approval, CAUSE, through its consultant, Mr. Gadinski, was given an opportunity to review and comment on the enhanced plan that was submitted by HCP. It was determined by DEP, and agreed to by CAUSE through Mr. Gadinski, that the enhanced groundwater monitoring plan, including the additional work requested by CAUSE, as submitted by HCP was adequate. DEP continues to believe that the plan will be effective in protecting human health and the environment.

The entire report appears to refute every claim by the opponents of this plan. It certainly addresses the concerns of Mr. Rogers. Mr. Eachus's protests appear to be a misguided political attack with no scientific or regulatory foundation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Huge Question For The Times Leader Reporters

It has been amazing to read the reporting regarding the appraisal of the land belonging to the Hazleton Redevelopment Authority in its dealings with Hazleton Creek Properties.

In this article written by Jerry Lynott of the Times Leader he pens the following: Later that year, an appraisal of the reclaimed land placed the value of the property at $8.2 million. The next year, Hazleton Creek purchased the property for $3.1 million in a lease-to-own agreement with the Hazleton Redevelopment Authority. The authority purchased the property in February 2006 for $200,000 from Pagnotti Enterprises.

He tries to tie the sale to a fundraiser held for Lou Barletta.

The $5,000 contributions of Slomowitz, Rinaldi and Terry Baker, a Johnson and Johnson sales representative from Clarks Summit, were reported a day before an April 30, 2007 fundraiser and paid for a show by The Rat Pack, a trio that impersonates Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

How about a simple question for Mr. Lynott because his reputation as a fair reporter precedes the article. Mr. Lynott, why don't you ask the bigger question of Pagnotti Enterprises. You are questioning why the Hazleton Redevelopment Authority sold a property they purchased for $200,000 for around $4 million in a total deal worth $5.75 million over 20 years with a purported appraisal of $8 million? Why didn't you ask Pagnotti Enterprises why they SOLD a property appraised at $8 million for $200,000.00? Isn't that a fair question??

Link To General Permit WMGR097 For Hazleton Creek Properties

On March 13, 2010 Mia Light of the Standard Speaker wrote an article about the permit approval for Hazleton Creek Properties that would use processed construction and demolition debris with regulated fill to reclaim the abandoned mineland on Hazleton's south side.

Hazleton Creek Properties sought DEP approval of a research and development project that would combine construction and demolition "fines" with approved fill materials to reclaim the mine-scarred site. Construction and demolition fines, or C&D fines, are sand- like particles of asphalt, bricks, concrete, gypsum, wood and other materials generated in the construction or demolition of buildings.

These are the products that Todd Eachus and his lapdogs are barking about.

Prior to approving the permit, DEP held a 30-day public comment period on the proposal. A total of 712 comments were received and answered, according to DEP.

In opposition to the permit request last year, state Rep. Todd A. Eachus, D-116, successfully urged DEP to hold a 30-day pubic comment period and also garnered a 15-day extension. He also authored a public input survey on the proposal.

Eachus got everything he asked for but still isn't satisfied with the answer.

According to Frank Keel of Hazleton Creek Properties, the project is designed to achieve three primary goals:

-- Demonstrate the potential for statewide beneficial use of C and D fine materials as valuable for reclamation of abandoned mine lands that pose public safety and environmental risks where no funds or responsible parties exist to complete the critical job.

-- Demonstrate that C and D fine material mixed with regulated fill can produce a reclamation mixture that will produce levels of compaction that will support structures for redevelopment projects and brownfield lands.

-- Expedite the site reclamation and remediation of a critical area by providing an additional high-volume, safe material for mine reclamation purposes.

Here is a link to the General Permit WMGR097 that lists the special conditions for Hazleton Creek Properties to conduct its research and development project at the site in Hazleton. Items 5 through 10 pretty much answer the concerns of the opponents of the project including Chuck Rogers.

5. Wastes covered under this permit as part of this R and D project shall not be hazardous waste or mixed with hazardous waste.

6. Wastes covered under this permit as part of this R and D project shall be kept separate from other wastes generated, processed, stored, or beneficially used at this site.

7. Wastes covered under this permit as part of this R and D project shall not be mixed with other types of solid waste, including municipal waste, special handling waste, or residual waste, that were not specifically identified in the permittee's approved application and information supplied under Condition 2.

8. The duration of the R and D project authorized under this permit shall not exceed one year unless written authorization is received by this Department. Requests for written authorization should include justification as to the reason a longer duration is needed for the success of the R and D project.

9. The total quantity of waste on site for a R and D project at any one time shall not exceed 50 tons unless written authorization is received from the Department. Requests for written authorization should include justification as to the reason a larger quantity of waste is required for the success of the R & D project. For projects involving larger quantities, the Department may determine, on a case by case basis thay bonding is required.

10. This permit does not authorize and shall not be construed as an approval to discharge any waste, wastewater, or runoff from the site of processing to the land or waters of the Commonwealth.

Specter Vs. Eachus

Previously Arlen Specter announced that he would sponsor a bill where federal funds would pay to take material dredged from the Delaware River to abandoned mines in Hazleton.

Given the posture that Todd Eachus takes to go out of his way and oppose the use of dredge to reclaim abandoned mines in Hazleton maybe my friend Gort can ask Arlen how he feels about the effort to oppose use of the dredge when he arrives in Hazleton tomorrow.

Specter called the start of dredging, which teamed with now-deceased Sen. John Heinz to advocate 27 years ago, a great day for Pennsylvania because of the economic impact.

Deepening the 102-mile shipping channel in the Delaware to 45 feet from 40 feet will create jobs on the ports and spin-off jobs for 125,000 people, Specter estimated.

John Estey, chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, estimated that dredging will create 30,000 to 35,000 jobs just at the ports.

Container ships need a deeper channel that dredging will create, Estey said.

"In the next five years, pretty much every ship will require at least 42 feet of water. This is the most important project in the history of the ports along the river," he said.

Todd Eachus announced the PaJobsNow package according to Brett Marcy's Twitter page. Listen here:

Guess those weren't the jobs he was talking about. Maybe the Mayor could arrange a meeting between Arlen and Todd so Arlen can set Todd straight with some "honest notjustawhistlindixie".

Regarding Eachus's comment in the Standard Speaker about Chuck Roger's concerns over the Hazleton Creek Properties project where he is quoted as stating "We finally found an honest whistleblower inside the Department of Environmental Protection," maybe he should read this Dear Abby column from November 18, 1995 about whistleblowers.

However, informing on neighbors requires some judgment. Before you pick up the phone or pen, be sure their "violation" realistically infringes on you or others, and that is not simply a case of disapproval on your part."

Four Allegheny County DA Employees Involved In Campaign Flap

The Legal Intellegencer through Leo Strupczewski is reporting that Allegheny County's Top Prosecutor Stepehn Zappala evidently didn't do his homework before charging Senator Jane Orie with Bonusgate-like actions.

A day after Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged a state senator and her sister with using legislative resources to aid several campaign efforts, his office'sright-to-know officer admitted in a behind-the-scenes legal battle that four employees found records on their computers that may suggest similar activity.

Those records have not yet been turned over to the individual who made the request — Jerry S. McDevitt of K&L Gates in Pittsburgh — but the legal wrangling between him and Zappala's office indicates there's yet another twist to the prosecution of state Sen. Jane Clare Orie, R-Allegheny.

There is much legal rangling going on over the existence of the records. This Hatfield and McCoy dispute will not see a resolution any time soon.

DEP Officials Hit With $6.5 Million Verdict

A case recently reported in the media may have implications in the Hazleton Creek Properties issue brought by Chuck Rogers of the Department of Environmentl Resources.

DEP Officials Personally Hit With $6.5 Million Verdict

In 2003, MFS applied to the DEP for a renewal of its Title V air quality operating permit, which required MFS to meet several EPA standards. After entering into a consent decree with the EPA to address these standards, MFS again requested that DEP issue it an operating permit. However, DEP regional air program staff informed MFS that they would not reissue a permit. MFS requested a meeting with the DEP Secretary. Prior to the meeting, the same regional staff gave the Secretary a summary of the MFS matter containing several allegedly misleading statements, and the Secretary ultimately decided to leave the issue of a permit up to the regional officials. The DEP regional officials offered to issue the permit on some 91 conditions, including an absolute right to shut the facility down, and compliance standards that one of the DEP employees admitted re-wrote an earlier EPA consent decree in an effort to impose more stringent standards on MFS. When another mineral wool manufacturing company expressed interest in purchasing the MFS facility, one of the DEP officials wrote a mutual customer of the two companies indicating that MFS had malodor and compliance issues. With the hope of any resolution looking dim, MFS sold off its machinery and liquidated in March 2008.

In May 2008, MFS instituted suit in federal court against four DEP staff members (including the regional director, a staff attorney, and regional air program managers) alleging that their various involvement in the actions described above amounted to violations of MFS's constitutional rights of due process and equal protection, intentional interference with a prospective contract, and retaliation.

The jury found that the four DEP employees had retaliated against MFS for exercising its First Amendment rights in requesting a meeting with the DEP Secretary.[1] In response to MFS's state law claim for interference with a prospective contract, the state employees asserted protection under Pennsylvania's Sovereign Immunity Act. The Court, however, stripped their sovereign immunity because there was sufficient evidence for a jury to find that in their actions, the employees' intent was not to do their jobs, but instead to do harm to MFS. The jury agreed and found that the state employees had both interfered with a prospective contract and acted outside the scope of their employment. On the constitutional challenges, the Court also denied the employees protection at the summary judgment stage under the doctrine of qualified immunity, which protects government officials from civil suits for damages where their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights that would have been known to a reasonable official. The jury found violations of due process and equal protection, and made further findings of fact which denied the officials immunity.[2] The jury verdict ordered the four government employees to pay MFS $6.5 million in damages.

A memo leaked to the Times Leader appears to have political finger and handprints all over it. Frank Keel of Hazleton Creek Properties had this to say about the matter in an article written by Kent Jackson of the Standard Speaker.

Frank Keel, a spokesman for Hazleton Creek, said leak of the memo was disturbing for many reasons and occurred during a contentious election season.

"One might speculate that there is more than a tinge of politics at work in these out-of-nowhere allegations," Keel said in a statement. "The company met every condition and complied with every regulation set forth by the DEP over many months and in a very transparent process, which is why it was granted the permit to begin work on this environmentally and economically sound mine reclamation project."

Chuck Rogers raised issues over the permitting for the Hazleton Creek Properties project by stating his office was not involved in the permitting process according to Jerry Lynott of the Times Leader. According to officials at DEP all permitting is performed at the central office in Harrisburg, not in the regional offices. Rogers makes the claim that Hazleton Creek Properties is in violation of its permit yet no material has come to the site in question.

There will be more on this issue in the days and weeks to come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

U.S. Marine Stands Up To Barack Obama

This story is about one Marine and one Marine only:

Tea Party Marine Sticks by His Guns in Fight With Government and Obama
By Joshua Rhett Miller

A U.S. Marine whose Facebook posts led to a refresher course last week on the Pentagon's directives on political activities is not running for cover as he continues to post or support material critical of the government and President Obama.

Sgt. Gary Stein created the Facebook group "Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots" four weeks ago to voice his opposition to Obama's health care overhaul. Superior officers asked the 24-year-old Marine to review directives on political activities before he was interviewed on TV, and Stein removed the Facebook group -- only to see it revived by a civilian member of a local Tea Party group hours later. Stein now serves as an administrator of the group, which has more than 9,100 members, including some soldiers on active duty.

According to Department of Defense directives, military personnel on active duty are prohibited from sponsoring a political club, writing anything that solicits votes for a political cause or speaking at any event that promotes a political movement. They may also not participate in any "radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause" or distribute "partisan political" literature.

Ed Mitchell Linked To Times Leader City Editor

There is an interesting post over at Pennsylvania Political Clouds linking Ed Mitchell to a Times Leader editor.

Congressional Candidate Mark Critz Supports Nancy Pelosi

PA GOP: Nancy Pelosi Welcomes Home Her Favorite Candidate Mark Critz

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Contact: Michael Barley
Press Release

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement today regarding Democratic Congressional candidate Mark Critz’s fundraiser with extreme liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania has questions for Washington insider Mark Critz:

1. Would you vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House?

2. You're bringing anti-coal Vice President Joe Biden to Western Pennsylvania to help you raise cash, when is Speaker Pelosi coming to the district?

3. Nancy Pelosi has referred to the job-killing, energy tax legislation, known as Cap & Trade, as “transformational legislation which will take us into the future.” Do you agree with her that imposing an energy tax that will crush small business and cost jobs is in the best interests of the 12th Congressional District? (POLITICO, 6/28/09)

“Actions speak much louder than words and Mark Critz’s willingness to accept the endorsement of a big-government, extreme liberal like Nancy Pelosi says volumes about what kind of Congressman he will be,” Gleason said. “As a Pennsylvanian living in the 12th Congressional District, I know that the strong family values that we, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, share in this part of southwestern Pennsylvania are far different from those held by Nancy Pelosi.

“I was always taught that you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and I believe that Mark Critz’s close association with Nancy Pelosi, a person who has come to represent everything that is wrong with Washington, D.C., proves that he is not the right candidate to represent our best interests in Congress.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lewis Wetzel Donated To Paul Kanjorski

Judge Lewis Wetzel

On March 16, 2010 Attorney Lewis Wetzel as unaminmously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate to assume a judgeship on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

In this article written by Andrew Seder of the Times Leader Senator Lisa Baker was quoted regarding Attorney Lewis's qualifications and integrity.

Baker told the committee that “Gov. Rendell has nominated two individuals with extensive experience, quality credentials and the proper justice-first approach required during these unusual and unsettling times. Each is committed to restoring the reputation of the Luzerne County Court, rather than enhancing their personal reputation. Neither is positioning for a next life in electoral politics.”

“Given the depth and breadth of the appalling wrongdoing revealed, community trust in the basic integrity and fairness of judges will be hard to re-establish. Their willingness to serve is commendable; their enthusiasm for the undertaking is encouraging. We have had an extremely painful reminder that the fair administration of justice is not a sure thing. Securing justice takes effort on the part of many, but it clearly depends most of all on ethical judges.”

The ink wasn't dry on that article before Wetzel made a quiet political donation. According to a Federal Election Commission filing by Pennsylvanians For Kanjorski Attorney Wetzel made a donation to the campaign of Paul Kanjorski in the amount of $500.00 on March 18, 2010 found on page 19.

Lewis was sworn in as judge the very next day. In this Times-Tribune article the author writes Afterward, Judge Wetzel said he had been disheartened by questions involving corruption charges - such as, "Are you next?" - and said it will take time for the court to restore its image.
"I seriously think it will take my two years and then maybe then some to make people feel all is well with the court," he said.
Doesn't it seem odd that right before he is sworn in Wetzel feels the need to make a donation to Paul Kanjorski just under the wire?

Although Judge Wetzel was not a judge at the time of the donation, its timing seems to be suspect. If Attorney Wetzel was truly engaged to restore the court's image does he honestly believe that his action shows a step in the right direction?

Canon 7. Judges should refrain from political activity inappropriate to their judicial office.

(1) A judge or a candidate for election to judicial office should not:
(c) solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate

Strictly speaking Attorney Wetzel was not a candidate in the sense he had to run for office but he certainly was a nominee for a position on the court. The reasoning for the first prohibition would probably be difficult to divorce from the second situation.

Your honor, with all due respect, it will take much longer when "Politics As Usual" prevails on the bench. One has to wonder whether Judge Burke would support this action on his watch.

One more question, your honor. If a Republican comes before your bench against a Democrat are you willing to recuse yourself due to an apparent bias toward one party?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

O'Connor Kickoff Event- 118th District Pennsylvania

Campaign Kickoff

Terrence O’Connor

Republican Candidate for State Representative, 118th District

Monday, April 19, 7 p.m.

Dupont VFW, Main Street, Dupont

For more information: Teri Van Britsom 570-236-4272 or Renita Fennick 570-239-8851

Pennsylvania Leadership Conference Quote

"We can't fix Pennsylvania's economy until we fix government," Corbett said.

Murtha's Seat Could End Up Going To A Republican

Tim Burns, Republican Congressional Candidate 12th District Speaks With Friends At A Fundraising Rally- Post Gazette Photo

The vote to keep Chris Carney from a seat on the House Appropriations Committee doesn't seem to be the only rebuke of a Democrat by a Democrat. The Post-Gazette is reporting that voters in John Murtha country are leaning Republican according to Dennis Roddy.

In a district that has long belonged to a Democrat from Johnstown even as it drifted away from the national Democratic message, Ms. Banahasky offered three words the Republicans want to hear: "I just might."

She just might, as in, vote a Republican into Congress.

The candidates are Tim Burns, 42, a conservative Republican, tea party organizer and self-made millionaire, and Mark Critz, 48, a conservative Democrat who has spent much of his career on the byways of the sprawling 12th District, working economic development projects funded through Mr. Murtha's seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

"The common theme is people who love America and want to ensure that their children and grandchildren have a strong opportunity in this country," said Mr. Burns.

It is a place in which people still consider themselves New Deal Democrats or Hubert Humphrey Democrats.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Obama Abandons Kanjorski Plan

On the Huffington Post Paul Kanjorski wrote this column about "Too Big To Fail" back in November, 2009.

"Too big to fail" must die. I am preparing legislation to 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. Never again should American taxpayers have to bail out high-flying financiers when their risky bets go sour.

The economic meltdown we narrowly averted last year rightfully convinced the American people that we need to re-examine the fundamental structure of our financial system. Wall Street financiers, however, seem to think that -- now that they are basically stable thanks to American tax dollars that kept them afloat during the worst of the crisis -- they can just go back to business as usual.

Evidently Paul Kanjorski with all his senority couldn't convince his boss. Today President Obama urged Senate Democrats according to this Fox News report to nix the $50 billion dollar fund designed to finance the liquidation of a big financial institution facing collapse, a victory for Senate Republicans opposed to government-supervised and government-funded corporate bailouts.

"The fund was not in our original proposal we announced almost a year ago and we don't feel it is an essential part of final legislation," a senior administration source told Fox. "The President will only sign a bill if it passes the test of putting an end to bailouts."

There is one thing missing in the Fox News article. That would be Paul Kanjorski's name. Evidently his claims to the public aren't as powerful as he wants us to believe. They are more powerful in his own head. I guess Obama no longer believes Kanjorski is the right team member for his plans.

Federal Money On The Way To Offset Snowstorm Costs

In one of the worst snowstorms Northeastern Pennsylvania has witnessed in decades this winter counties and municipalities incurred exorbitant costs to remove the white stuff from streets and highways. Gov. Rendell has announced that the federal government released $50 million to the Commonwealth to help defray those costs.

Joe Smydo and Len Barcousky of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report that

Twenty-six counties and hundreds of municipalities will share more than $50 million for cleanup costs, Mr. Rendell said.

That figure represents 75 percent of what the counties and municipalities spent during their costliest 48 continuous hours of storm cleanup. Mr. Rendell had wanted a more generous reimbursement.

"The cleanup work in many counties took much longer than 48 hours," Mr. Rendell's office repeated Friday, noting that the governor's request for more money is "still pending a decision" by federal officials.

Rendell has an additional request in for more money. He is asking the federal government to waive its 48 hour limit.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Has Liberalism Infested The Editorial Room?

What do all the front pages of these newspapers have that is missing from the front page of the Times Leader? The Tea Party movement.

Leighton's Campaign Finances- Ethical Issues

The Times Leader ran an article about donations from Marvin Slomowitz and William Rinaldi in reference to the dredge project in Hazleton. For some unknown reason reporter Andrew Seder brought State Rep. John Yudicahk into the donation picture without doing a similar look at Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton. Of course those on the inside know that Rep. Todd Eachus and Congressman Paul Kanjorski are supporting Leighton's efforts against Yudichak in the Senate race to replace retiring Senator Ray Musto's seat.

A look at Leighton's campaign finance records on the Luzerne County website reveals some interesting information.

Within the 6th Tuesday Pre-Election Campaign Finance Report the following donations bring up some curious questions. Diamond Manufacturing Company is listed as a $400.00 donor on 06/246/2009 found on page 16. Diamond Manufacturing is listed as a corporation on the state's Corporation Bureau. Pennsylvania prohibits direct corporate donations to campaigns.

In the 2nd Friday Pre-Election CFR in 2008 West Side Hammer Electric Inc, another corporate donor, of Bethlehem is listed as a donor in the amount of $300.00 on 07/09/2008.

Seder failed to point out Marvin Slomovitz's donation to Leighton on 05/27/2009 in the amount of $300.00 found on page 12.

Falzone Realty is listed with a donation of $300.00 on 03/27/2009 (and 06/12/2008) found on page 12 but a search for that entity failed to produce any results on the Corporate Bureau, Department of State licensing or

Oddly enough Falzone Towing Service, Inc., another Pennsylvania corporation, is listed at the address, 365 Pierce Street, Kingston, on the CFR and the Corporate Bureau. Since there is no listing at the Department of State for a realtor there seems to be a huge question about the validity of that donation.

Kane for District Justice is listed as a donor on page 10 in the total amount of $500.00 listed as $300.00 on 06/11/2009 and $200.00 on 06/29/2009. According to the Judicial Cannon 7 District Justices are not permitted to engage in political activity of this type. (1) A judge or a candidate for election to judicial office should not: (c) solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate.

Robert Mericle gave a $300.00 donation on 06/10/2009 listed on page 19 and was charged by the U.S. Attorney's office on 08/13/2009. It had been common knowledge that Mr. Mericle was Participant No. 2 in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney on January 31, 2009 in the Luzerne County corruption scandal. Why did Tom Leighton accept the donation and why wasn't it returned?

On the in-kind contributions list are donations from Rodano's Restaurant and Patt Patte. If you read this Legal Opinion from the Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board gift certificates awarded as prizes must be for food only, as the awarding of gift certificates that include alcoholic beverages would be prohibited for the reasons provided in response to your first question. Was there a disclaimer on those gift certificates?

In the 2nd Pre-Primary 2008 CFR Leighton lists a loan to himself from the campaign on 01/17/2008 in the amount of $2,000.00 found on page 6. He repays the loan back to the campaign on 04/01/2008 found on page 5. Loans to committees are permissable but loans from a campaign committee to oneself is another question.

In the 2nd Friday Pre-Election CFR from 2008 the report lists a fee for a bounced check on 07/25/2008 found on page 25.

One suspects Leighton felt comfortable with his reports and didn't anticipate Ray Musto's retirement or the scrutiny his candidacy would cause.

Rendell Loses In Money Shuffle- Taxpayers Will Pay The Consequence

In a feeble attempt to balance the budget the Legislature along with Governor Rendell raided the physician malpractice premium subsidy fund, MCare, to the tune of $800 million this year. The fund is used to subsidize premiums especially for high risk physicians to keep them from leaving Pennsylvania. MCare began in 2003 when premiums surged by double-digit percentages annually, although they have stabilized in recent years.

Rendell wanted to use the money to expand a state health insurance program for uninsured adults. Rendell issued a press release in 2008 annnouncing the assault on the Health Care Provider Retention Account to fund the "Cover All Pennsylvanians" initiative.

Pennsylvania's physician and hospitals sued the state over the diverted monies put in the General Fund. Commonwealth Court issued an order requiring Pennsylvania to return the $800 million to the malpractice premium subsidy fund.

The order will cause chaos in an out of control spending Legislature in Harrisburg. It will only add to the taxpayers' burden over a 50% pension grab by greedy solons.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paul Kanjorski's Card Check Debacle

Last year Paul Kanjorski was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act aka Card Check. In this story from the Washington Examiner by Kevin Mooney he highlights the "dirty" money Kanjorski received from unions with stellar?? credentials.

Kanjorski received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $2,000 in 2008 election cycle. Boilermakers Union (PAC) $2,000 in 2008 election cycle. American Federation of Government Employees (PAC) $2,500 in 2008 election cycle; $1,000 in 2006 election cycle. The Service Employees International Union (PAC) $4,000 in 2008 election cycle; $2,000 in 2006 election cycle. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (PAC) $5,000 in 2010 election cycle; $10,000 in 2008 election cycle; $4,000 in 2006 election cycle. WHY IT'S DIRTY: Multiple officers and members of these unions, including division presidents, secretary-treasurers and business managers, have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy.

In his recent flap with Chris Carney the Politico writes about the intensity of the divide between Carney and Kanjorski over Kanjorski's vote against Carney for a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Second-term Rep. Chris Carney is accusing 25-year veteran Paul Kanjorski, who represents a neighboring northeastern Pennsylvania district, of stabbing him in the back by voting for Rep. Patrick Murphy when the Pennsylvania delegation used secret ballots to recommend a Murtha successor to the Democratic Steering Committee, which hands out committee assignments.

Isn't there a double standard where Kanjorski is concerned in this matter?
Kanjorski’s camp says it’s impossible for anyone to know how he voted on a secret ballot.

Geez Paul, Card Check would remove workers’ rights to a federally supervised private ballot election. Instead, workers would be asked to sign cards in front of organizers and colleagues, potentially subjecting them to harassment or intimidation. Paul supports that system for the rest of us just not himself. Typical for this congressman.

Kanjorski suffered a mortal wound in this situation. Lackawanna County knows the meaning of a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Yes, Paul shares Lackawanna County with Chris Carney. The Joseph McDade Terminal serves as a monument to the amount of money McDade brought back to his district.

Joseph McDade also serves as a prime example in the federal investigation into Fort Mifflin Reclammation Associates and Hazleton Creek Properties. Don't rush to judgment on this issue. No one has been charged yet but sure as shit Mitchell already has the commercial produced and ready to air.

McDade was acquitted of bribery charges in 1996. His trial led to the passing of the McDade Amendment. Although McDade takes credit as the principal advocate for the Tobyhanna Army Depot, Kanjorski now wants those coattails.

The Truth About

Dredging Issue Now A "Boxing" Match

As reported yesterday federal agents removed boxes of interested material regarding an investigation into the bid award for the removal of dredge material at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania. In this Times Leader story by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Steve Mocarsky, and Jerry Lynott details emerged that the question at hand concerns bids made by Barry Bowen as Bowen Enterprises and Fort Mifflin Reclammation Associates Inc(FMRAI) on July 25, 2006 for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project hauling dredge material away from its storage place.

According to the federal government contract site contract W912BU06C0024 was prepared on September 20, 2006 in the amount of $21 million dollars to FMRAI.

To get to the crux of the story this summation in the Times Leader tells it all.

Bowen was the site manager for the Hazleton Creek Properties project as of December 2006. His withdrawal from the dredging project meant that companies connected to (Marvin L.) Slomowitz got both the contract to transport the sludge and to develop the site at which it was being deposited.

A second source, who also requested anonymity, said Bowen’s relationship with Hazleton Creek Properties, coupled with Bowen’s withdrawal from the bidding process, led a person to contact federal authorities to request an investigation into possible collusion.

A simple call by any competent person would ellicit from a Corps spokesperson that the REASON Bowen withdraw was his inability to secure bonding for the project. That fact brings SOP to the conclusion that the person who had possible collusion concerns really didn't do any homework whatsoever. SOP won't publish the phone number at the U.S. Army Philadelphia office called to obtain the information but it was a simple Google search to obtain it. There were four bids submitted through the internet on the project.

There are political hand and footprints all over this story. Hazleton Creek Properties is the entity doing business with the City of Hazleton, not Fort Mifflin Reclammation Associates, Inc. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bid process was separate from the contract with the City of Hazleton. What went on, if anything, in Philadelphia has no connection to the City of Hazleton efforts to clean up abandoned mine lands withing its boundaries.

The site where Hazleton Creek Properties has been hauling the dredge to in Hazleton is inspected 60 times a year due to objections by an organization with a handful of members. A landfill is only inspected 12 times per year. There are GPS systems as well as monitor wells in place at the site to track the movement and possible contamination, none of which is required at the Palmerton Zinc Plant site. Due to its high profile nature Mr. William Rinaldi, manader of Hazleton Creek Properties, has been subjected to constant scrutiny bordering on harrassment over cleaning up the landscape.

This contract was awarded in 2006. The "concerned citizen" with possible collusion concerns waited until 2010 to bring up the bid process during a hotly contested race. Barry Bowen was point man with Hazleton Creek Properties since the beginning and it took until now to make a connection! With all the media attention this project received for the last five years believability that it only came to light is total hogwash. It wouldn't surprise SOP if those footprints traveled from Nanticoke to Washington. It seems someone waited until a Democratic President took office and the next election year before calling the authorities.

In is important to make the disclaimer that no one has been arrested or charged in this matter. As Ray Musto said “I’ve stepped on a lot of big toes over the years."

Agents actions yesterday give a new meaning to "boxing".


Information has been received by SOP from the federal government regarding the awarding of contract for titled "Renewal Capacity, Fort Mifflin Disposal Area, Philadelphia, PA". The bids were as follows:

Barbella Construction Services, LLC Somerville N.J. Base Bid $28,000,000.00 Total Base Plus Option $46,600,000.00

Fort Mifflin Reclammation Associates Kingston, PA. Base Bid $21,000.000 Total Base Plus Option $33,600,000.00

Bowen Excavating, Scranton, PA. Base Bid $19,250,000 Total Base Bid Plus Option $30,800,000

A.P. Construction Inc. Philadelphia, PA. Base Bid $23,875.00 Total Base Bid Plus Option $38,575,000

The bids were opened by Joseph Bujnowski on August 24, 2006 at 11:00 A.M. The government estimate for the contract was $19,525,000.00. Total Base Plus Option estimate $31,018,000.00

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taxing America -

Taxing America - Click on the link to hear about how much our children will have to pay over the next several decades.

Ann Lokuta Gets Help From The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice

Ann Lokuta Times Leader photo

Back in August 2009 SOP opined about former Judge Ann Lokuta's attempts to get back on the bench. In September there was news that the Judicial Conduct Board received complaints in the Luzerne County courthouse scandal.

After a hearing before the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice today the Times Leader is reporting out of Harrisburg that attorneys for Lokuta accused an attorney for the Judicial Conduct Board of engaging in prosecutorial misconduct for failing to reveal to a disciplinary court that it had received a complaint against former judge Michael Conahan, who was a key witness against Lokuta.

The article goes on to describe the specifics that Attorney George Michak makes about the actions that JCB's chief counsel, Joseph Massa described to support his position.

Even if Lokuta is successful in this endeavor and she is restored to the bench, a longshot, she would still face retention next fall. The bigger prize for her here is restoration of her pension. This one definitely needs to play out.