Saturday, January 31, 2009


President Judge Chester Muroski had these words to say yesterday

“I spoke up,” Muroski said. “I spoke up in 2005 and I complained that while I was running my juvenile court, which is a dependency court for abused and neglected children, I could not make placements, I could not provide services and I was $800,000 under budget and delinquency court was $2 million over budget.

“About three days after I sent that letter to the county commissioners, I was reassigned to criminal court and in my view the reassignment was done in order to silence me and further encourage me to, at that point in time, retire.”

During her trial in January, 2008 former Judge Ann Lokuta had these words of testimony.

"Lokuta had already testified that those judges yelled at her, failed to work with her, tried to sway her rulings and took cases away from her. She continued explaining that to the state Court of Judicial Discipline on Monday.

“It was a court which was spiraling out of control and I had absolutely no ability to stop that spiral,” she said."

A day after her testimony this information was published in the Times Leader.

"Newly retired Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan will keep his entire staff at an annual cost of more than $173,000 once he begins working as a senior judge.

Four staff members will be assigned to him on a full-time basis – an arrangement President Judge Mark Ciavarella acknowledged is unique to Conahan. The other three senior judges who hear cases in the county share a staff of five, he said, including two tipstaff, two secretaries and one law clerk. The staffing was approved last week by the county Salary Board on the recommendation of Ciavarella."

During the proceedings of Novemeber 5, 2008 this testimony was noted of Judge Patrick O. Toole.

"One of them, former President Judge Patrick J. Toole, said he is not part of any conspiracy against Lokuta, never tried to sway her ruling in a case and never screamed at her via telephone and demand she always take his calls, as Lokuta has claimed he has done.

“I never attempted, in any way, to influence the outcome of any case she had,” Toole, leaning forward in the witness stand, boomed at Sinatra. “And I resented that (allegation).”

But Toole conceded that he, as president judge, told her to withhold her ruling in a case in order for a trio of judges to discuss the case. Toole admitted he disagreed with Lokuta’s ruling."

This story appeared in the Times Leader May 12, 2008.

"When her 14-year-old son was arrested three years ago, Tracy Stair said she planned to hire an attorney to represent him at his juvenile court hearing, but was stunned by the response of the lawyer she contacted.

“He told me it would be a waste of my time and money,” Stair said. “He would go if I wanted him to, but he wouldn’t be able to speak.”

Stair, 36, of Dorrance Township, said she couldn’t understand why an attorney would say such a thing – until the day she and her son appeared before Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella in juvenile court.

“We went before the judge and the hearing was over in 90 seconds,” she said. “He asks you a question. You answer it and it’s ‘book ’em. Get him out of here.’ The next thing I knew, he was sent away for three months.

Here is Attorney Al Flora's statement last week.

“Second, the government has not charged a quid pro quo. The government does not allege that Judge Ciavarella received money in exchange for his sending children to the PA Child Care facility and that he led the payers of the money to believe that they would receive less favorable treatment from him, absent payment of the money.

“Third, Judge Ciavarella specifically denies that he sent any child to any juvenile facility because of money that he allegedly received from any person.

Information from the Indictment found on Page 3

"..Abused their positions and violated the fudiciary duty they owed to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to the Judiciary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by secretly deriving more than $2,600,000 in income, in addition to the compensation to which they were lawfully entitled, in exhange for official actions and anticipated official actions. The actions from which they dervived improper income included, but were not limited to, ...directing that juvenile offenderes be lodged at the juvenile detention facilities operated by PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care;"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judge Lupas- Lets Ask You Questions

The PHILADELPHIA based Juvenile Law Center filed the suit to overturn juvenile cases before President Judge Mark Ciavarella because the children didn't have lawyers.

As former District Attorney for Luzerne County why did your office and the Luzerne County Public Defender's Office ignore the constitutional rights of 500+ CHILDREN while they were allegedly violated? The Indictment details these allegations as part of the federal investigation.

Former President Judge Mark Ciavarella allegedly admitted that he ERRED by not reciting the LEGALLY REQUIRED questioning of juvenile defendants asking them ON THE RECORD if they knew that they had a right to legal counsel. Ciavarella removed himself from the Juvenile Court and assigned David Lupas to take over.

Wouldn't it appear to the prudent public that An Attorney from The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office should have been present every time Ciavarella violated the constitutional rights of a juvenile defendant? The Luzerne County District Attorney Office, as Officers of the Court, were equally required to step in when Judge Mark Ciavarella did not ask the juveniles ON THE RECORD if they knew they had a right to legal counsel. To accept any other premise is unconcionable. They took an oath of office to act in the interest of justice. What reports on outcome were transmitted back to the office of the District Attorney during these alleged violations?

Every thing that Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella are now accused of doing, they did openly in full view of The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office. David Lupas did not question what was going on in Juvenile Court when he was DA.

David Lupas was head of The Luzerne County DA's Office during most of the events leading up to the current scandals surrounding Conahan and Ciavarella.

The Luzerne County District Attorney is the Defense Attorney for Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. In any CIVIL PROCEEDING filed against Judges Conahan and Ciavarella, The Luzerne County District Attorney would immediatey file an answer to that lawsuit as THE ATTORNEY OF RECORD for Defendants Conahan and Ciavarella. In fact Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto-Carroll in filed a response to the petition from Juvenile Law Center ON BEHALF OF Judge Mark Ciavarella.

Monday, January 26, 2009

DA Jackie Musto Carroll- Lets Ask You A Question

The Juvenile Law Center released a press release on April 28, 2008 that stated "Luzerne County is Worst Violator of Youth Civil Rights- Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia-based public interest law firm, filed a petition to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today requesting immediate, emergency relief on behalf of Luzerne County youth who have been the subject of delinquency hearings without counsel since October 1, 2005 when Pennsylvania adopted the Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure."

The Center issued another press release on June 17,2008 titled "JLC Petitions PA Supreme Court for Extraordinary Relief for Hundreds of Youth Tried Without the Benefit of Lawyers". In the body of the release it states "The Luzerne County District Attorney and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) filed briefs on behalf of the Juvenile Court urging the Supreme Court not to take jurisdiction. JLC filed a response."

A second request was placed before the Supreme Court by the Juvenile Law Center in December.

DA Musto-Carroll's argument to the court contained the following statement "The Petitioners have not shown that the issue is of such immediate public importance that extraordinary jurisdiction is required. Nor have the Petitioners clearly demonstrate that their rights have been violated. In addition the Petitioners allegations regarding other juveniles who may be similarly situated have not shown that such individuals even exist."

Oh really???

On page 14 of the indictment against Ciavarella and Conahan it reads "It was further a part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that, on numerous occassions, accused juvenile offenders were ordered detained by the defendant Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. even when Juvenile Probation Officers did not recommend detention. The defendant Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., at others operating at his behest, also exherted pressure on staff of the Court of Common Pleas to recommend detention of juvenile offenders. On some occassions, probation officers were pressured to change recommendations of release to recommendations of detention.

Tom Corbett, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania supported the Juvenile Law Center's efforts to secure Supreme Court review. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare filed a similar brief supporting a Supreme Court review. Yet, DA Musto-Carroll chose otherwise.

In today's press conference DA Musto-Carroll isquoted as saying "I think this is the beginning of the end of the darkest days of our county. We can look at this as a bright spot that things have been turned around and no longer will these sorts of things be tolerated."

Her brief filed in opposition to the Juvenile Law Center demonstrates an acute ignorance of the investigation going on around her. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear children's complaints of massive rights violations in Luzerne County demands public outrage at the arrogance of the court in light of this indictment.

DA Musto-Carroll- Were you not aware of an investigation into PA ChildCare to the extent that you foiled attempts to protect children from long range mental problems over injustice?

From the press release of U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson dated January 26, 2009 at the bottom of page 4- "Mr. Carlson further noted that Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Carroll worked closely with federal investigators and the United States Attorney's Office in assisting in the investigation." It is hard to comprehend how DA Carroll could write a brief in opposition knowing the facts she must have known given that statement.

The Press Release, Indictment, And Plea Agreements

Click here to read the press release from U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson.

Click here to read the Indictment.

Click here to read Conahan's plea agreement.

Click here to read Ciavarella's plea agreement.

Click here to read Ciavarella's resignation letter.

Click here to watch Judge Chester Muroski's press conference.


The following information is being typed as part of the press conference by Martin Carlson available live on the net courtesy of WILK.

Judge Mark Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan will be issued a summons to appear before a court on charges of fraud and tax charges in connection with the construction and expansion of the PA Child Care juvenile detention center. The judges have entered into a plea agreement whereby they will serve a mandatory 87 months in prision. The charges entered today apply exclusively to the juvenile court system and specifically to these judges.

A serious of conceled payments, wire transfers and checks, totaling $2.6 million were made to the judges by two, as yet, unamed individuals with regards to the construction and expansion. The judges are accused of ordering juveniles into detention where they had a financial interest in spite of the fact that recommendations were made otherwise in the disposal of those cases. The money was paid to business interests belonging to the judges and were mischaracterized as to their nature.

The juvenile detention facilities include Luzerne County and western Pennsylvania.

The question of whether a person, public servant of the C o P, who violates public corruption is subject to state law concerning the of preservation their pension. The plea agreement requires the judges to make restitution in an amount to be deteremined by the court.

Further charges may be pending, however the agent in charge would not speculate as to their certainty. The press conference concluded at 2:02P.M.


Here is the link to Judge Chester Muroski's statement regarding the resignation of Mark Ciavarella Jr. as President Judge.

Breaking News- Luzerne County Venality

The Times Leader is reporting that the United States Attorney for the Middle District will be holding a press conference in Scranton at 1:30P.M. concerning the ongoing public corruption investigation at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Speculation has run its rampant course since last year concerning the flagitious behaviors within the Courthouse. It is anticipated that arrests are forthcoming but again, just speculation. A check of US Attorney Martin Carlson's website does not have the press release posted.

The Citizen's Voice is reporting that Judge Chester B. Muroski, the most senior member of the county bench, has announced he’ll release a statement at the county courthouse at 11:30 a.m.

As previously heard on the street it is being ciruclated that resignation letters are sitting in Harrisburg at the Administrative Office for Pennsylvania Courts.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

$1 Trillion Dollar Man

First, Obama, who led us to believe he had the right prescription for America, announced a $775 billion stimulus for America could quickly grow to $800 billion.

"We've seen ranges from $800 (billion) to $1.3 trillion," he said in an exclusive interview with CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood. "And our attitude was that given the legislative process, if we start towards the low end of that, we'll see how it develops."

No wonder the financial wizards on Wall Street went untethered and sans oversight. If any sound business plan had a $500 billion caveat most economists would laugh over more than one round of spirits. Do you realize the entire package for the banking industry was $700 billion? The $500 billion differece only represents 14.8% of the people being affected

ABC news reports "President Obama went directly to the public today in his first weekly address since moving into the White House, making the case for his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package that he hopes to sign next month."

"We will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years," Obama said.

I challenge any of you to tell me that wind and solar appear in this document more than eight times in 647 pages. The significance of their appearance falls short of the expectations expected by those who read them in this document.

Obamessiah Giveth and Obamessiah Taketh Away

The House Rules Committee has released its version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. From the time I posted the text found on until now the ver(gar)bage has increased from 334 pages to an astounding 647 pages.

SEC. 1110. USE OF AMERICAN IRON AND STEEL reads (a) IN GENERAL.—None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or public work unless all of the iron and steel used in the project is produced in the United States.

No sooner does one finish reading that section when it is followed by typical Washington balderdash (b) EXCEPTIONS.—Subsection (a) shall not apply in any case in which the head of the Federal department or agency involved finds that—(1) applying subsection (a) would be inconsistent with the public interest;

Gort has posted Chris Carney's vote on the bailout. Carney wants accountability and is not satisfied with it. As I posted before the accountability in this bill cost $3,000,000 per person for oversight. Like Paul Harvey would say- Page 26. Oh, the money, page 27.

Rite Aid Concerns And Pennsylvania Employees

Rite Aid Corporation, a regional chain drugstore operation and related services, had its rating cut to a deeply speculative grade due to concern's about its liquidity as an operation. Moody's Investors Service opined that the drugstore chain could run into its credit limit if cash flow did not improve. Rite Aid stock closed Friday at 31 cents per share.

What's the point of this post? This financial crisis isn't the first for Rite Aid which has its corporate offices in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Rite Aid had to restate its earnings in 2000 for prior years 1997, 1998, and 1999. As a result three former executives were indicted in 2002 for fraud and accused of filing false documents to inflate its earnings.

What's the point of this post? The Pennsylvania Employees Benefits Trust Fund had and continues a long term arrangement with Rite Aid to fill a 90 day supply of chronic medications at its retail pharmacies. If one looks on the PEBTF webiste they will see the arrangement. This contract was a no-bid contract. Retail pharmacies are prevented from providing the PEBTF employees with the same benefit. Their trust fund managers will tell the public the contract saves them money. I ask- How do you know that when you never bid it out?

The contract is backed up by Medco, Fast Eddy Rendell's corporate sponsor.

There are many financially sound pharmacies in Pennsylvania. Why are they excluded? How has Rite Aid earned its place at that contract table? In this time of transparency maybe the PEBTF Board should be held accountable for answers.

Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

As the adminstrative arm of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court the Adminstrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts(AOPC) carries out the court's policy and management directives plus other technical and adminstrative support. A search of The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website has yet to yield any filings with regards to the anticipated legal wranglings of the Luzerne County Court system. Stay tuned for more updates.

As reported in the Citizen's Voice speculation concludes that the reassignment for two court employees were not retribution but allegiance moves. Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. appointed Ann M. Hoedl and Joseph A. Dessoye to different court jobs. Hoedl, Ciavarella’s executive secretary, was appointed to a job in court administration and Dessoye as a senior law clerk for Judge Joseph M. Augello.

Loutka's staff was dismissedafter the state Court of Judicial Discipline removed their boss from the bench. Ciavarella's actions appear to ensure that the same fate is not met by his staff.

There is a saying "Don't spit in the wind for you never know when it will change direction."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Breaking News:Luzerne County Judges- And Their Off

It is being circulated that Judge Ciavarella has resigned as President Judge of Luzerne County Court. A rumor is also circulating that Judge Michael Conahan has resigned as Senior Judge. It is speculated that charges are forthcoming and such a move would preserve their pensions if found guilty.

They Are Terrorists, Not Soldiers of War

The United States of America is not at war with Iraq or Afghanistan. We are in a security battle with terrorists. The bleeding hearts can cry all they want about their treatment, their incarcaration, and their quality of life. Who is defending the innocents they slaughter and continue to slaughter.

Soldiers proudly wear a uniform of the country they represent. They don't hide in mosques. They don't hide their ammunition in mosques. They don't hide in elementary schools. They take their fight to the enemy.

This following conversation has been the subject of many emails. Judge William Youncg couldn't have said it any better in 2003.

"This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.

We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down."

Mr. President Obama, please remember these words.

Al Qaeda Chief Now Leading Fight Was Released by U.S. From Gitmo

Fox news is reporting that a former prisoner at Gitmo who was released in November, 2007 is now the No.2 man in Yemen.

"A Saudi man who was released from Guantanamo after spending six years inside the U.S. prison camp has joined Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen and is now the terror group's No. 2 in the country, according to a purported Internet statement from Al Qaeda."

President Obama needs to have a plan for the terrorists at Gitmo before closing the facility.

Gitmo-The Difference Between A Terrorist And A Soldier

On July 12, 2006 the Bush Administration decided to apply the Geneva Conventions to the prisoners at Gitmo.

In a press release from 2003 Mr. Fleisher explained the President's position. Since President Obama took over the link to this speech does not work. I was able to use the cache feature to resurrect it.

MR. FLEISCHER: I have an announcement to make. Today President Bush affirms our enduring commitment to the important principles of the Geneva Convention. Consistent with American values and the principles of the Geneva Convention, the United States has treated and will continue to treat all Taliban and al Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo Bay humanely and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention.

They will continue to receive three appropriate meals a day, excellent medical care, clothing, shelter, showers, and the opportunity worship. The International Community of the Red Cross can visit each detainee privately.

In addition, President Bush today has decided that the Geneva Convention will apply to the Taliban detainees, but not to the al Qaeda international terrorists.

Afghanistan is a party to the Geneva Convention. Although the United States does not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate Afghani government, the President determined that the Taliban members are covered under the treaty because Afghanistan is a party to the Convention.

Under Article 4 of the Geneva Convention, however, Taliban detainees are not entitled to POW status. To qualify as POWs under Article 4, al Qaeda and Taliban detainees would have to have satisfied four conditions: They would have to be part of a military hierarchy; they would have to have worn uniforms or other distinctive signs visible at a distance; they would have to have carried arms openly; and they would have to have conducted their military operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

The Taliban have not effectively distinguished themselves from the civilian population of Afghanistan. Moreover, they have not conducted their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Instead, they have knowingly adopted and provided support to the unlawful terrorist objectives of the al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda is an international terrorist group and cannot be considered a state party to the Geneva Convention. Its members, therefore, are not covered by the Geneva Convention, and are not entitled to POW status under the treaty.

The first action President B. Hussein Obama took addressed the concerns of the terrorists. Let that statement speak for itself.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Change You Can Believe In

Estimates for tomorrow's inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama run as high as $150 million. That price tag equals one year's allotment for TEMPORARY INCREASE IN BENEFITS UNDER THE SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 found on page 42 of 334. In other words we could feed the children for a year on what is spent in a day.

As reported on Politics in Northeast Pennsylvania an Independent Advisory Panel is to be appointed by the President. The allocation for the panel of five is pegged at $14,000,000. It is hard to imagine that $3,000,000 is needed for each person.

The first time solar energy is mentioned lands a person on page 180. It is part of the 21ST CENTURY GREEN HIGH-PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES. One will find the word solar used two times in the entire document. In the same appropriation the word wind is used exactly two times. Only $14 billion-page 171 about Section 9301 funding- out of the document's $850 billion proposal is dedicated to this effort. That is a resounding 1.6% of the entire appropriation. There is no provision for private industry or homeowner aid to get a greener life.

There is no help for private industries to get on board with alternate power.

Obama's words from a speech delivered in 2006- "Why can't we make energy security one of the great American projects of the 21st century?" I guess he feels 1.6% is a serious committment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Will Obama and McCain Team Up?

Former Senator Rick Santorum writes op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Today he released an article titled "The Elephant in the Room: McCain may be Obama's secret weapon." He makes the case that McCain's reputation for walking across the aisle can earn him his place in history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama is No Lincoln!

In reading about Thomas Jefferson one will find that he was a member of the Democratic Republican party. Those in Washington today would kringe at such a statement. Worse yet the words of John F.Kennedy, one of my idols regardless of my party affiliation, were echoed long ago by Jefferson's tombstone:

BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S.
DIED JULY 4. 1826

He made sure that his legacy was about the things he gave the people, not what they gave him,namely the Presidency of the United States.

The audacity of Barack Obama to compare himself to Abraham Lincoln flies in the face of that example.

And Justice For All= M.C. and His Hammer

The Supreme Court decided to take up an appeal by a death prisoner on the issue involving the right to a lawyer. As reported yesterday Jessey Jay Montejo will have his case heard before the Supreme Court on the right to a lawyer during an interrogation after asking for one. What does this case have to do with Pennsylvania?

In two separate instances the Juvenile Law Center petitioned the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court take immediate jurisdiction over more than 500 criminal cases involving juveniles before President Judge Mark Ciavarella. A Pennsylvania Child Welfare Agency had previously joined in the Petition as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania' Attorney General.

The JLC wanted emergency relief granted to these cases alleging that Judge Ciavarella forced these juveniles through the system without proper representation.

Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll urged the state Supreme Court to reject the petition from the JLC demanding reforms in the county’s juvenile court system. "Musto Carroll and Barletta said the Juvenile Law Center did not adequately establish the identities of the juveniles it claimed were wronged, other than the two whose cases were the impetus for the petition.."

It is interesting that the Attorney General for Pennsylvania and the department charged with licensing juvenile facilities support the JLC while the Luzerne DA opposes the effort.

Ciavarella has also been accused of failing to conduct a colloquy – a legal term that refers to in-depth questioning judges are required to perform to ensure defendants understand what rights they are giving up when they opt to waive their right to an attorney. As support for her position Musto Carroll noted that on the summons juveniles receive they are notified of the right to an attorney. Musto Carroll should revisit this position in light of the seriousness of the allegations.

This issue brought back memories of an all time favorite movie- "And Justice For All" starring Al Pacino. It's a brilliant performance. Yes, it appears Judge Ciavarella is "out of order."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And Their Off- First Governor Horse Out Of The Gate

A former revenue secretary for Pennsylvania announced his bid for governor to succeed Ed "Fast Deal'em" Rendell. According to an article in the Post-Gazette Tom Wolf who made a fortune in the family supply business filed the official papers to raise money in his quest for governor.

"His personal wealth could allow him to be one of his own biggest donors. That capability could invest his campaign with instant credibility despite Mr. Wolf's modest name recognition and relatively short public resume. The York businessman is better known within state political circles as a regular contributor to the campaigns of state Democrats. Mr. Rendell appointed Mr. Wolf revenue secretary in 2007, a post he resigned in November in anticipation of a run for office."

"...Mr. Wolf's potential rivals include Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Auditor General Jack Wagner, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, and another wealthy businessman, Tom Knox of Philadelphia.

Among the Republicans mentioned as possible contenders to replace Mr. Rendell, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, are Attorney General Tom Corbett; Pat Meehan, the former U.S. attorney for the state's Eastern District; U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach; and Pat Toomey, a former congressman who just missed in a bid to wrest the GOP Senate nomination from Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004."

Joseph Scarnati, a Republican Senator, was sworn in as the 31st Lieutenant Governor following the untimely death of Katherine Baker Knoll. It is the first time in Pennsylvania history that the lieutenant governor serves with a governor of the opposing party. It has been reported that Karen Beyer is eyeing a run at that spot. She would join a list that now includes state Rep. Mike Turzai and Sen. John Pippy, both of suburban Pittsburgh, and current Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor.

Don't be surprised if you see a local well known office holder enter that race.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mike Veon's Non Profit Empire Funnel

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Mike Veon's escapades reach into the non-profit world. It appears investigators have uncovered a fifth organization where he funneled state funds, some of which appears to violate state grant guidelines.

"The money earmarked for youth athletics in Beaver County apparently was sent to the home of Dennis Rousseau, a Beaver County labor leader whose address appears on organizational filings.

Rousseau, a friend of Veon's who ran unsuccessfully for Veon's seat last fall, did not respond to calls for comment. He previously told the Tribune-Review he had been appointed without his consent to the board of another nonprofit linked to Veon.

Beaver County Sports and Recreation and three other nonprofits grew out of the nonprofit Beaver Initiative for Growth. Veon and former state Sen. Gerald LaValle formed, controlled and funded the Beaver Initiative for Growth with $10.6 million in state money.

The five groups -- three others were Lend-A-Hand Network, Beaver Race Initiative Development Group Effort and Beaver County Community Service and Development -- collected nearly $13 million in state grants before voters ousted Veon."

Mike Veon is the same person that Todd Eachus, now Majority Leader replacing Bill DeWeese, paid off his campaign debts after he lost. His famous quote on his actions:

Mr. Veon's new job as a lobbyist has added a wrinkle to the issue. His firm, Veon & Associates, is paid to lobby members of the Legislature on tobacco regulation and other issues.

Mr. Eachus said Mr. Veon's position as a lobbyist was not a factor in the decision to pay off his debt.

"That's an individual circumstance, but it doesn't change the fact that Mike Veon was a dedicated member of the Democratic caucus," he said. "If any other member were to lose their elections, the campaign committee would respond the same."

Veon, the former Democratic House whip who lost his seat in 2006, is awaiting trial on 59 counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest in a public corruption investigation that followed the awarding of bonuses to legislative staffers in 2006.

Burris Will Be Seated In The Senate

The Democrats in the Senate, headed by Harry Reid, picked an unnecessary battle over the appointment of Roland Burris, former Illinois Attorney General by Governor Blagojevich of Illinois to fill Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. This battle reminds one of the British military action during the founding of this country. Their style of forming lines, shooting, then retreating while another line took their place exemplifies the drama being played out in Illinois and Washington.

First, the Secretary of State of Illionis refused to certify Roland Burris's appointment. The real question is whether the Secreatary of State has the right to willfully neglect a duty entrusted to his office. The Illinois code(10 ILCS 5/25‑5) (from Ch. 46, par. 25‑5) is straightforward on the subject. It states:

“When a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from this state, the Governor shall make temporary appointment to fill such vacancy until the next election of representatives in Congress, at which time such vacancy shall be filled by election, and the senator so elected shall take office as soon thereafter as he shall receive his certificate of election.”

The code,(15 ILCS 305/5) (from Ch. 124, par. 5), also states "Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State:
1. To countersign and affix the seal of state to all commissions required by law to be issued by the Governor.

Secretary White has no discretion in this matter. The code mandates his signature.

The next British line came up after retreat. The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, earlier this month sought to question Gov. Blagojevich’s authority under that provision, citing federal criminal investigators’ contentions that he sought to sell the Obama seat for personal gain. In this case the Governor has not been indicted or charged with any crime up to this point. The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear her case without explanation.

A Congressional Research study titled "Status of a Member of the House Who Has Been Indicted for or Convicted of a Felony" dated October 5, 2007 clearly states:

"If a sitting Member of Congress is indicted for a criminal offense that constitutes a felony, the status and service of that Member is not directly affected by any federal statute or Rule of the House of Representatives. No rights or privileges are forfeited under the Constitution, statutory law, or the Rules of the House merely upon an indictment for an offense, prior to an establishment of guilt under our judicial system.

Once a Member of the House is convicted of a crime that is a felony, certain potential consequences exist relevant to his or her status as a Member of the House. It should be noted that Members of Congress do not automatically forfeit their offices upon conviction of a crime that constitutes a felony. There is no express constitutional disability or “disqualification” from Congress for the conviction of a crime, other than under the Fourteenth Amendment for certain treasonous conduct."

If the House of Representatives has such constitutional protections how can the Senate impose or restrict Roland Burris from taken his seat when he has no convictions? This issue is not about race, even though there are no African-Americans in the Senate right now. The issue centers on Harry Reid's theory and political strategy that Burris will lose the seat to a Republican. His personal strategy will tarnish and challenge Barack Obama's chances for a smooth transition already marred by Richardson.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama, Rubin, and Rendell- Sounds like a Law Firm

In a story that appeared in the Allentown Morning Call a key figure in Governor Richardson's probe is reported that he gave money to Fast Eddy Rendell's campaign.

"David Rubin of CDR Financial Products Inc. contributed $40,000 to Rendell's campaign between 2001 and 2005. CDR has had a contract with Pennsylvania since 2004, and Rubin was an unpaid adviser to Rendell in 2003." Like so many other contracts with Rendell this contract was not put out on bid. Luzerne County and the Pennsylvania Governor have much in common when it comes to ethical behavior.

A friend of mine tells one of his favorite jokes. Just when you think he gets to the punchline it only gets better. According to funds from David Rubin made its way to Barack Obama's campaign coffers.

"Financial records show the Obama campaign got more than $30,000 from California financier David Rubin, the target of an investigation into donations and possible "pay-to-play" deals involving New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama's pick for commerce secretary."

In late September, Rubin attended an exclusive Los Angeles fundraiser for Obama, held at the Beverly Hills' Greystone Mansion. Attendees gave tens of thousands of dollars which the campaign split between its own coffers, the Democratic National Committee and state-level campaign groups supporting Obama and Democratic candidates. The technique helps campaigns take in from individuals far more than the $2,300 maximum they are allowed to give to a single campaign fund.

Rubin's money went to a joint Obama-DNC fund ($28,500), the DNC itself ($26,200), and to the Obama campaign ($2,300), according to the database of campaign donations at OpenSecrets.Org. News of the federal investigation into Rubin's New Mexico dealings had broken less than three weeks earlier.

Oh the tangled webs they weave. How does the common man have any say in government when one man can doll out so much money?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Clinton, Richardson, and Obama

From my previous posts one can surmise that I am not a fan of Barack Obama. My reasons are many but mainly center on his lack of experience. I listened to the older George Bush in a recent interview talk kindly of PEBO. The comment that stuck with me was Bush's assessment that Barack is articulate. While that my be true it makes me personally feel the country will be "sold" on something, not united to solve our problems.

A crack in his cabinet appeared over the weekend. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico withdrew his name for the post of Commerce Secretary due to the disclosure of an investigation over the award of a state contract to one of his donors. The Obama transition team claims that Richardson wasn't forthcoming with this information before the announcement of his appointment. Their claim falls flat on its face since the Albuquerque Journal has been reporting on this story since August, 2008. A simple Google search would glean light on the allegation.

This story follows a similar story recently where an upstate New York developer donated $100,000 to former President Clinton's foundation in November 2004, about the same time Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project.

Sen. Clinton helped enact legislation allowing the developer, Robert Congel, to use tax-exempt bonds to help finance the construction of the Destiny USA entertainment and shopping complex, an expansion of the Carousel Center in Syracuse, N.Y.

She also helped secure an earmark in a highway bill that set aside $5 million for Destiny USA roadway construction.

In another saga Eric Holder, PEBO's nominee for Attorney General, failed to disclose that Governor BLagojevich picked him to settle an Illinois casino license mess.

Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder's role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" -- a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.

Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week -- an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama's transition team indicated late Tuesday.

I guess these acts are the change PEBO convinced us he would bring to Washington.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Traveling The Turnpike Will Cost More

Christine Baker, The Patriot-News/2008

There's a new twist to daylight savings time. If you drive the Pennsylvania turnpike during the daylight today you will save money. Starting at 12:01A.M. tonight your savings stop as you start paying more to travel the Pennsylvania roadway. The following information is from an article that appeared in the Herald Standard.

According to the Turnpike Commission, the 25 percent fare increase is required to enable the Turnpike Commission to meet financial obligations under Act 44, signed into law in July 2007. With Act 44, the turnpike is providing $2.5 billion in supplemental transportation funding from August 2007 to May 2010.

New toll revenue from the increase will mostly be used by the state Department of Transportation for off-turnpike investment.

"Our customers need to know that tollbooth income is being reinvested in the commonwealth's transportation systems and economy. For the first time, tolls aren't only going back into state toll roads, but helping fund infrastructure improvements in every Pennsylvania county," said Joe Brimmeier, Turnpike Commission chief executive officer. "In fact, more than 90 percent of the toll-increase proceeds will benefit non-turnpike road and bridge projects and transit operations."

As a result of the toll increase - the sixth rate change in more than 68 years - projected annual gross toll revenue will increase from $619.2 million at the end of 2008 to about $738.4 million at the end of 2010. The last toll increase occurred in August 2004.

The turnpike is taking a new approach future toll increases. Starting in January 2010, tolls will go up incrementally about 3 percent each year.

Operators of Class 8 trucks traveling the full length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will pay an extra $35 in tolls starting on Sunday, Jan. 4.

Complete toll information can be found here. It won't save you toll money but consider the EZ-PASS option to pay for your tolls. It will save you time and gas money, especially with the Express lanes.

You might want to use or a similar website to find alternate routes which will help you save money on tolls.