Saturday, February 28, 2009

Arlen Specter In Trouble For Re-Election

Franklin & Marshall posted a paper called A Certain Uncertainty. The first paragraph states "The sun rising in the morning, inevitable death, and inexorable taxes: these are among the certitudes of life. To these unavoidable experiences might be added one more sure thing--the persistent reelection of political incumbents. In fact, the habitual re-election of incumbents in Pennsylvania and across the nation comprises one of the fixities of modern life."

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Specter could be 'toast' in 2010 election. HARRISBURG -- A new statewide poll shows 53 percent of Pennsylvanians -- and 66 percent of Republicans -- want someone to replace Sen. Arlen Specter.

Asked whether they think Specter, a Philadelphia Republican, has done his job well enough to win re-election or whether they'd prefer a "new person" in that job, registered voters by a 53-38 percent margin said it's time to give someone else a chance, according to the poll by Susquehanna Polling and Research. Eight percent were undecided.

Political analysts generally worry about an incumbent when the reelect numbers fall below 50%.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Luzerne County Quick Roundup

The stories surronding the Luzerne County Corruption Probe are coming at rapid-fire pace. I know that Obama wants to ban semi-automatic weapons so before he does let's have a semi-automatic roundup of the Luzerne County News.

From the Citizen's Voice:

Associate: D’Elia, Conahan met often

Sources: Conahan, D’Elia attended lavish party

Ground rules set for juvenile court appeals

Burke confirms FBI interview

McGarry says he hasn’t been interviewed in corruption probe

Mother tells juvenile son’s story

From the Times Leader:

Lawyer sees case for ex-juvie workers

Ciavarella, Conahan targets of new suit

How Campaign Donations Can Break Down Barriers To Political Access- Hidden Unfairness

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the Federal Election Commission have websites where anyone can look up campaign contributions made on behalf of candidates. Curiosity got the better of me concerning the campaign contributions.

There has been a discussion in the business community about grants and loans that politicians bring back home from either Harrisburg or Washington. For example, if a restaurant receives a low interest loan for $1 million dollars it can hurt the competition in the area that does not have the same political access. In this case I looked at Robert Mericle and his companies because the growth and success of his business has been phenomenal when compared to others in the same business. I looked at contributions made by Robert Mericle and/or his business entities for the years 1998 through 2008 on a federal and a state level.

Here is the breakdown:

In 1998 Tom Ridge was the recipient of $36,000.00.

In 1999 The Ridge Leadership Fund received a $10,000.00 donation and Friends of Mike Fisher received $1,000.00

Oddly, nothing of significance was noted in the year 2000 data.

In 2001 The Ridge Leadership Fund receives another $10,000.00 and Robert Casey For Governor receives $16,000.00.

In 2002 Edward Rendell For Governor accepts $10,500.00 in donations. Fisher For Governor receives $10,000.00 and Robert Casey For Governor is given another $5,000.00

In 2003 Edward Rendell For Governor receives another $10,000.00 and Robert Casey For Treasurer accepts $1,000.00

In 2004 Edward Rendell For Governor receives another $5,000.00 and Robert Casey For Treasuer is given another $2,000.00.

In 2005 Mark Ciavarella For Retention receives $2,250.00. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee comes on board for $2,000.00. Friends of Bob Mellow recieve $5,525.00.

And then the winds blow in. Hold onto your hat.

In 2006 the Committee To Elect Eddie Day Pashinski received $2,600.00. Edward Rendell For Governor receives $70,000.00. The Democratic Senate Committee accepts another $5,000.00. The SenatorMellow06 Committee receives $10,000.00 while Friends Of Bob Mellow accept $25,700.00.

In 2007 the Democratic Senate Committee is given another $5,000.00. The Committee For Rob McCord accepts $2,500.00. David Lupas For Judge Committee recieves $6,200.00. Friends of Bob Mellow accept another $75,875.00. Friends of Mike Carroll receive $2,000.00.

In 2008 the Democratic Senate Committee accepts another $5,000.00. The McCord Committee receives $25,000.00. Edward Rendell for Governor is given $15,000.00. Friends of Bob Mellow come up light at $875.00. Friends of Mike Carroll receive $4,500.00.

So lets add some of these up. Tom Ridge and The Ridge Leadership Fund received $56,000.00 but then the donations went mostly Democratic.

Edward Rendell For Governor received $110,500.00 since 2002. Friends of Bob Mellow and SenatorMellow06 were given a combined $117,975.00. Robert Casey For Governor and Treasurer received $23,250.00. The Democratic Senate Committee tallied up to $17,000.00. David Lupas For Judge received $6,250.00. Mark Ciavarella For Retention received $2,250.00.

On a federal level Paul Kanjorski via Pennsylvanians For Kanjorski has received $8,000.00 since 1998. Bob Casey For Pennsylvania Commmittee was the recipient of $2,100.00 while Bob Casey For Senate received $4,600.00. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $11,000.00. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee received $10,000.00. The RNC Republican National State Elections Committee received $5,000.00 on 11/03/2000. The Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania received $10,000.00 on 10/04/2005. The Pennsylvania Senate 2006 received $5,000.00 on 11/06/2006.

The total donations made on a federal level was $66,600.00 since 1998 including donations I have not published here. The total donations on a state level(including donations not listed here) were a whopping $444,395.00 for the same period..

The power of Congress lies in the committees where the bills are written. The committee chairman have tremendous control over the language written into a bill. Politicians who are not receptive to big campaign donors usually don't rise to these high offices. Party funds are such a big part of election funding that loss of party funds almost guarantees a loss of the election. On a state level the governor by him or herself is one of the three legislative bodies in most states. It is hard for proposed legislation to become law unless the governor ends up supporting it. A governor of a large state like Pennsylvania is more powerful than the governor of a small state.

Consider the gaming industry in Pennsylvania. Large campaign contributions created legal versions of gambling that were prohibited in the Commonwealth. The current voting methods and funding of candidates means the most ethical individual is so vulnerable to being influenced through money that the average voter really has no say except to place the person in office.

This problem is how we arrived at our financial crisis today. Large corporations influenced Congress to change the laws regarding savings and loans in the 80's. The new laws enabled these businesses to engage in financially irresponsible activity.

Is there a hidden unfairness in U.S. elections known as the disease "cashous infectous"? Is there an equal amount of access to politicians when individual donations can be drowned out with sizable donations like these?

State Figures By Year
1998- $38,000.00 1999- $11,000.00 2000- $1,650.00 2001- $27,100.00 2002- $26,600.00

2003- $14,100.00 2004- $10,910.00 2005- $18,100.00 2006- $131,075.00
2007- $97,200.00 2008- $68,650.00

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Look At The Latest Defendants In The Juvenile Law Center Lawsuit

The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia has jumped into the foray over the Luzerne County juvenile court scandal by filing a class action lawsuit against parties involved according to the Times Leader.


Item 636 of the document is interesting in that it seems to elevate the allegations.

In particular, the defendants intentionally conspired and agreed to acquireor maintain interests in and control of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, as described in Count VI. Additionally, the
defendants intentionally conspired and agreed to conduct and participate in
the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering
activity, as described in Count V.

I am particularly intrigued by this statement in the lawsuit. The defendants knew that their predicate acts were part of a pattern of racketeering activity, and the defendants agreed to the commission of those acts to further the schemes described in Counts V and VI. It will be interesting to see the facts that will be presented to the court to support that allegation.

Again I want to stress that these are allegations that will most likely be defended against. No one should infer liability at this point. Please keep in mind that the defendants can petition the court to be dropped from the lawsuit at a later date. It is a civil action that will need to work its way through the court system.

I am sure this action will not be the last we see in this

Obama's $1 Trillion Increase

President Obama's budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.

Click here if you care to read where the money will come from.

Some of the comments on that post.

This isnt a budget. Its a declaration of war against people who produce.

Looks like Obama is "escalating the W.O.E." (War on Employers)

Corporations don't pay taxes, their customers do.

Now we see how Obama is going to pay for (one-third) of his $3 trillion spending increase (assuming the programs are permanent). He's the most radical tax and spend liberal president in U.S. history. Raising taxes on businesses, investments, and small businesses that all pay the personal income tax rate is the perfect plan - if your goal is to dramatically shrink economic growth.

Slick Willy doesn't have anything on Obama. Lower taxes a smaller percentage (a lot smaller) than Bush's tax cut, then let Bush's tax cut expire.
Net result, an increase in taxes while Obama claiming to give a tax cut.

What worse than these new taxes is the amount of inflation that is going to occur within the coming year because of the money we are printing from absolutely no-where. We cannot create money and throw it at spending projects that will not create lasting jobs especially when the money runs out...

Those business tax hikes sure look scary. We ALREADY have the highest business tax rate of any industrialized nation. I see more jobs going overseas by this foolishness.

What An Obamanation!

From Political Punch's Jake Tapper:

Obama: Budget Will Restore Fiscal Discipline

Introducing a budget outline that calls for nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the next ten years, President Obama and his economic team today said the plan would restore fiscal discipline and "produce sustained growth and shared prosperity."

I thought he agreed to lower taxes for 95% of America. Double talking at its finest. We will raise taxes so we can spend to restore fiscal discipline. That's how you restore fiscal discipline in your own house, right??

BTW, this plan is titled Titled "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise. Do any of you remembering making a promise to pay $1 trillion dollars in tax increases?

Eric Holder's Law Firm Sued For Discrimination

Do you remeber when AG Eric Holder gave his speech and called America a "Nation of Cowards" on the issue of race? Do you remember that his firm is representing detainees at Gitmo? There is a saying. Don't spit into the air. You never know when the wind will change direction.

According to The American Lawyer Yolanda Young, a former staff attorney at Covington & Burling who wrote a controversial column for the Huffington Post almost a year ago on racial segregation at large law firms, filed a discrimination suit on Tuesday in Superior Court for the District of Columbia against her former firm.

Yolanda wrote an article about Eric Holder titled "What Eric Holder's Tenure at Covington & Burling Says About Blacks and BigLaw". She writes This week, Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder Jr., will probably be confirmed by the Senate. It is a historic moment and one that Holder has seemingly been working towards for much of his career. He has served as a US Attorney for the District of Columbia and a Deputy Attorney General--the first African American, incidentally, in either position. Simply stated, I am proud of him. My admiration, although sincere, is not without its complexity.

About her lawsuit she writes "Whether Covington's treatment of staff attorneys as a minority class is illegal will soon be taken up by the courts. It is an issue that appears ripe for review by the next US Attorney General. How ironic."

Covington and Burling representative deny the charges according to the article.

Did Anyone Notice That Jimmy Carter Snubbed Bill Clinton At The Obama Inauguration?

I was surprised that Jimmy Carter's snub of Bill Clinton didn't receive more play in the media.

Talking About Familiar Sounds In Luzerne County Real Estate

This article originally appeared in the Times Leader on December 16,2008 by Jennifer Learn-Andes

Luzerne County paid $700,000 for a Hazleton bank building that a new appraisal has valued at $625,000.

The appraised value was disclosed during Monday’s commissioner work session because county commissioners plan to vote Wednesday to sell the West Broad Street property. Bids will start at $625,000.

Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services will publicly list and advertise the sale for at least 60 days before the bid due date, commissioners said.

Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Stephen A. Urban proposed selling the building because it would be costly to renovate and several potential county office occupants are locked into multiyear rental agreements in other facilities.

Urban expressed displeasure during the work session that the county paid more than the building is worth.

Commissioner Greg Skrepenak and former Commissioner Todd Vonderheid had voted to buy the building in May 2007 from Val-Mar Holdings for $605,000 through eminent domain, but a court panel later ordered the county to pay $700,000.

Their original plan to lease the building for $2.58 million over 10 years was scrapped after public outrage. Val-Mar is owned at least in part by county planning commission member Frank DeGaetano.

Urban had opposed the lease and purchase, pointing out that Val-Mar bought the building for $330,000 in December 2005 and had done little, if any, work on the structure.

Does anyone know that real estate in Northeastern Pennsylvania doubled in value in less than three years? Are your homes worth twice what you paid if you purchased your home in 2005? Who were the judges sitting on the court panel who determined the value? Just some curious questions.

If you want to view a for sale notice click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Story From The Past With Familiar Sounds Of The Present

A newsblast from the past. 37% return in one month is not a bad deal. You can view more stories here.

Times Leader, The (Wilkes Barre, PA) - Friday, May 18, 2001

WILKES-BARRE - A previous owner of Penn Place offered the building to Luzerne County for at least $600,000 less than the county eventually paid for it.

County commissioners twice rejected the offer from Allen E. Ertel before he sold the building to Robert Mericle for $1.8 million on Nov. 29, 1999, Ertel said. On Dec. 31, 1999, the county agreed to buy the building from Mericle for $2.48 million. It intends to move several courthouse offices there.

Ertel said he approached each of the commissioners - Tom Makowski, Frank Crossin and Joseph ``Red’’ Jones - at the time, but was told the county had no use for the building .

County Chief Clerk Jim Torbik said Thursday he was not aware of Ertel’s offer and would ask Makowski about it, but he did not get back to a reporter.

``I would have sold it to the county for less than I sold it to Mericle ,’’ said Ertel, a former U.S. congressman. ``They (the commissioners) said they didn’t need it.’’

But the county was interested in using the building for offices since Jan. 14, 1998, if not before. That was before Ertel owned it, and when the county signed an agreement promising the Northeast Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council that union workers would be used to refurbish the building.

Citizens To Protect PA Jobs!

GOP voters ‘check’ strong NO to Employee Free Choice Act.

“It is clear that GOP voters throughout the Commonwealth believe that passage of EFCA and the effective elimination of the private ballot to determine union representation will result in the closing of businesses and the loss of jobs,” said Gene Barr, vice president of government and public affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “Respondents to the poll believe Congress should be focused on other issues, such as jobs and health care, which are far more pressing than EFCA.”

Kanjorski, Specter, Casey, Carney, Send Letter to Rendell Urging Action on NEPA Rail to New York

From the Press Room of Arlen Specter Guess Arlen really is trying to endear himself with the Republicans. Maybe he is going to switch parties before the next election.

Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 -

Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11), Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Congressman Christopher P. Carney (PA-10) sent a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell urging him to form a Tri-State Authority between Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York to oversee the management of the proposed project to provide rail services between Northeastern Pennsylvania and New York City. The Congressional delegation expressed their concern that the current sponsor of the project, New Jersey Transit, has made only minor progress in moving forward, and has not sufficiently promoted the interests of Pennsylvania. In addition, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and other leaders in the state of New York have expressed interest in extending the line from Scranton to Binghamton and Syracuse.

By creating a Tri-State Authority, this entity could become the sole sponsor of the project, helping to advance the project more rapidly. In the letter, the Members request that Governor Rendell work with the states of New Jersey and New York to create such an authority, and that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) actively support the entity.

The Honorable Edward G. Rendell

Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Office of the Governor

Main Capitol

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Rendell:

The purpose of this letter is to reaffirm our strong support for restoring passenger rail service between Northeastern Pennsylvania and the New York City metropolitan area, commonly known as the Lackawanna Cut-Off Passenger Rail Restoration Project. Furthermore, we respectfully request you work with the states of New Jersey and New York to form a Tri-State Authority to oversee management of this project. The creation of a balanced Tri-State partnership will ensure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will receive maximum benefit as this project moves forward. We appreciate your attention to this matter.

As you know, the Lackawanna Cut-Off Passenger Rail Restoration Project involves re-establishing commuter rail service from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the New York City metropolitan area. There is a dire need for this service to help alleviate traffic congestion as many of our constituents commute to New York City on Interstate 80. In addition, the proposed rail will serve as a tremendous economic development initiative by allowing consumers in New York and New Jersey to visit attractions in Northeastern Pennsylvania including Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and other recreation areas in the Poconos, Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton and the newly-opened casinos in Luzerne and Monroe Counties.

For the past 20 years, several agencies in New Jersey have been the primary project sponsor with New Jersey Transit (NJT) currently the primary sponsor. As a result, the only significant progress made to date has been within the state of New Jersey. Moreover, it is our understanding that on numerous occasions in the past, NJT failed to report the necessary information about the Pennsylvania portion of the rail line to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as required for the environmental assessment of the project. Based on conversations with officials from FTA, it is our understanding this project is nearing the end of the environmental assessment phase and will move into the preliminary engineering phase shortly.

In order to ensure that the Pennsylvania portion of the rail line continues to move forward in a timely fashion, we believe the creation of an impartial Tri-State Authority is necessary. Once created, the Tri-State Authority would become the primary project sponsor. Moreover, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) must actively support this proposed Tri-State Authority. Strong involvement from PennDOT will ensure the Commonwealth receives its fair share of the economic benefit of this project.

In closing, please know that we remain committed to doing what is necessary at the federal level to advance this project. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this or any other matter of importance to our shared constituency. Thank you for consideration of our views.


Paul E. Kanjorski Arlen Specter
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Robert P. Casey Jr. Christopher P. Carney
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Kanjo- Earmarks Are Not His Specialty

In the election against Lou Barletta many people were touting the money Kanjo brought back to the district. You heard about it on the morning drive with Kevin and Nancy. You heard people call into Steve Corbett and praise Kanjo for his efforts.

Take an honest look at the earmarks Kanjo brought back to the area. His solo earmarks amount to a total of 5 for a paltry $2,955,000. Contrast that with John Murtha who had 67 solo earmarks for a total of $159,940,200. Arlen Specter had 131 solo earmarks for a total of $31,167,900. Chris Carney quadrupled Kanjo with 18 solo earmarks for a total of $8,818,600.

It's the perception folks, not the reality that evidently counted.

Obama- The Government Cannot Spend Into Recovery

Obama and the Democrats are facing harsh criticism over the Porkulus Spendulous plan. Monkeying with the economy is like monkeying with nature. You may effect something but it may not be the desired effect you were hpoing would happen.

In this article by John Stossel he writes Washington never changes, no matter who's in power. Give a gang of politicians a chance to spend our money, and they will spend it -- the more the better. An economic downturn is hog heaven; for now they have a justification to spend big time: "economic stimulus." Anything and everything can be proposed as long as it can be said to "inject money into the economy" and "create jobs."

Even if the spending could give the economy a jolt, at what price? I don't mean the legislation's overt price tag. I mean the production lost because the money borrowed by the government won't be available for private investment aimed at satisfying consumers ( Do we want politicians directing how scarce resources are used? I'd rather have those decisions made by entrepreneurs who must please consumers or go bankrupt.

It's perfectly clear that the recession is a license for politicians to do what they've wanted to do all along.

We should be suspicious when politicians, economists and the media declare a "consensus" and marginalize dissent ( President Obama says, "There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy."

That's not true. Last week, the Cato Institute ran a full-page newspaper ad ( signed by more than 200 economists, including Nobel laureates stating:

"We the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s ... Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."

Let's hear no more about "everyone" agreeing that politicians can spend the economy into recovery.

Obama had two times at bat with his speeches but they failed to woo Wall Street.

Also cited for the drop was a lack of details in the president's Tuesday night speech when the president sternly told the nation that the country has come to a "day of reckoning" on the economy but would emerge stronger than ever.

Doreen Mugavero of Mugavero Lee & Co. called the president's speech "optimistic spin."

"It was a very good feeling for Americans and did a lot for confidence," Mugavero said. "However, the economic data continues to erode and things are not going to happen no matter how optimistic he is."

Barrocky Road states that the stimulus will jumpstart the spending to bring about recovery. However, the next speech is about raising taxes to fund universal healthcare.

Here is the fallacy in that plan. President Barack Obama will propose a combined $634 billion in upper-income tax increases and cuts to government health spending over 10 years to fund a new program aimed at getting health coverage to all Americans, a senior administration official said Wednesday. Ten years is a long time. Legislation can change in a heartbeat. He won't even be in office the last two years.

Read this response from a comment on the Wall Street Journal site. So this is the second tax on the so called "Rich". I am in this tax bracket and I also make over $250k Between the tax on the rich he announced last week to cut the deficit in half and the new health care tax, I currently employ about 100 people. I don't have a vacation home, jet or travel the world all of the time. I am just a hard working entrepreneur that gives over $300k a year to run charity for dental sealants to poor kids right here in the USA. I will have no choice to let some of my employees go and/or cut a great deal of my charity work. So much for stimulating the economy. Why should I work so hard any more??

Don't get me wrong. There would be nothing more that I would like to see than the economy turn around. However, temporary jobs will mean a temporary solution.

I am looking at houses in Florida going for a fraction of what they would fetch in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Look at the ending bid on this stunning home. Even at this rock bottom price it will take longer than three years to pay it off. When the stimulus runs out so do the jobs. At it may be sooner than that because the money he will use to pay for the stimulus jobs will compete for money the private sector needs to run its business. And it is those businesses who will create the long lasting jobs, not the government.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fast Eddie- Where Is The Promised Property Tax Relief- Talk About A Stimulus

I saw this post on the net and decided to reproduce it here.


Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
Capital Gains Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Court Fines (indirect taxes)
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel permit tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory tax
IRS Interest Charges
IRS Penalties
Liquor Tax
Local Income Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Septic Permit Tax
Service Charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Road Toll Booth Taxes
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone federal excise tax
Telephone federal universal service fee tax
Telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes
Telephone minimum usage surcharge tax
Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax
Telephone state and local tax
Telephone usage charge tax
Toll Bridge Taxes
Toll Tunnel Taxes
Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
Trailer registration tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

In addition to the above you pay for shelter, food, clothing, utilities, automobile, gasoline, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, homeonwers insurance, and education. WOW! Kind of makes you wonder how the average person is able to make ends meet.

This following comment was posted to it:

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world, had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What the hell happened!!!

At a time when the government wants to raise your taxes (uhhh don't believe that lowering hyperbole, you can't add debt without someone paying for it; you can't take a loan out without being responsible enough to pay it back) think about how many taxes have been instituted over time? Our national debt has risen to record highs. Ohhh that wasn't a Republican thing, the Democrats in Congress voted for it as well. Has government solved our problems or dragged us into their problems to even deeper levels?

Where is the promised property tax relief from the casinos? If you drive by the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs there are lines to get in. The PA Budget Secretary told us last April that property tax relief was certain this year. Doug Harbach, communications director for the Pennsylvania Gaming Board tell us that each the casinos contribute $2.7 million in taxes with only half the casinos opearting under the law's authorization.

Seniors are benefiting from the casinos through property tax rebates. When are the rest of us going to see any money? It could be a stimulus for Pennsylvania that doesn't need federal money as its foundation.

Keep your eyes on the federal level. They want to control more and more of your money because they think they know how to spend it better.

Jill Moran Cuts Deal With U.S. Attorney In Luzerne County Case

From The Times Leader

The WBRE Investigative I-Team Sleuth, Andy Mehalshick is reporting that Jill Moran has cut a deal to co-operate with federal investigators into the ongoing drama at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

The U.S. Attorney's office filed the paperwork at federal court in Scranton around 10:30 this morning. It says that Moran has agreed to resign her position as Prothonatary and will cooperate with federal investigators.

The 12-page document details Moran's cooperation with investigators. Moran says she will work with investigators to prevent future fraud against the people of the United States. Moran has not been charged and will not face criminal charges, according to the agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

This comes one day after Moran announced that she would step down as of March 13th. She had not been charged by federal authorities but her name has come up in media reports, since she is the law partner of Attorney Bob Powell of Butler Township.

As of this posting there is nothing filed on the U.S. Attorney's website detailing the Luzerne County corruption prosecutions.

UPDATE: Here is the Times Leader link to the United States of America vs. Jill Moran document. In part it states:

The United States was voluntarily informed by JILL MORAN that individuals known to MORAN, who was then the Prothonotary for Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, allegedly attempted, without MORAN’s full knowledge and consent, to use MORAN to facilitate frauds committed by these other individuals, frauds which deprived the people of Luzerne County of their right to the honest services of these other individuals.

Judge Munley- Are You Paying Attention To These Cases

The Washington Times is reporting that a rancher who faced the possiblity of paying $32 million to illegal aliens crossing his property has, instead walked away instead with a verdict that rejected any notion he violated the trespassers' civil rights and affirmed that U.S. citizens can still detain.

What makes this case interesting is this part of the ruling. U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, for starters, dismissed the claims of 10 of the illegals because they did not testify at trial. He then tossed related conspiracy complaints against Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, and his brother Donald, saying illegal immigrants had no constitutionally protected right to travel in the United States.

Judge Roll said the Barnetts, who live in close proximity to the border, could reasonably assume that large groups of people they encountered hiding or trespassing on their property were doing so with the aid of smugglers.

He said entering the United States illegally was a federal felony, for which a citizen's arrest was authorized under Arizona law.

Ultimately, the jury of four men and four women decided that Mr. Barnett did not violate the civil rights of the remaining six plaintiffs and was not guilty of false imprisonment, battery and conspiracy as charged in the suit.

In the case against Hazleton Judge Munley ruled that the John and Jane Does did not have to show up to testify and that the illegal aliens were allowed to file deposition testimony rather than take the stand.

Read how Munley ruled differently when John and Jane Doe were used in a Pleasant Valley School District lawsuit.

In February, 2008 a federal judge sided with Valley Park, Missouri on its right to deny business licenses to those who employ illegal immigrants. An attorney for the city said the decision will have implications for other cities and towns around the nation faced with the same issue. It is worth noting that Kris Kobach, an attorney and law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and other Fox News programs helped with this case. Kris Kobach represented Hazleton during its trial before Munley.

In September, 2008 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Arizona sanctions law that was authored based on the Hazleton ordinance.

A federal appeals court has upheld Arizona's employer sanctions law, which penalizes businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants and requires them to verify the employment status of their workers.

In October, 2008 the California Appellate Court ruled against San Francisco's Sanctuary Policy stating that the city must follow state law requiring police to report suspected aliens arrested on drug charges to the Federal authorities.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lack Of Oversight of The Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Why does Pa. Supreme Court tread so lightly around juvenile-rights tangle? And so asks John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News.

I ask Chief Justice Ron Castille what took so long. "We had to wait for everybody else to answer," he says.

That would be the county court, the local D.A., and so on. Plus, Castille argues, Judge Ciavarella, within weeks of the April filing, pulled himself off juvenile cases and issued new written notices to charged kids and their parents about right-to-counsel.

Since nothing was alleged about kickbacks at that point (the judges were charged Jan. 26), Castille felt that the right-to-counsel issue was resolved and saw no need for Supreme Court intervention. What about the statistics, I ask? Didn't they cause you concern?

"Well, you know statistics. . . . There are lies, damn lies and statistics," he says.

(I hope he's kidding; government policy is built on statistics.)

Questioned further, he says, "We are not an investigative agency."

When I ask if he'd considered referring the statistics to an investigative agency, he says: "They weren't our statistics."

I start to sense a circular argument. What about possible public perception that since detention facilities in question are owned by Greg Zappala, son of former Chief Justice Stephen Zappala, the court might be, uh, slowed or swayed?

He laughs, calls me a cynic and says:

"No, Greg Zappala is a legitimate businessman, as far as I know."

Zappala is not charged, and reportedly is not a target of the probe.

Lack of judicial oversight allows such smugness in the answers to this reporter's questions. It almost legitimizes the label of ruling elite. Judge Castille, should not your judiciary be held to a higher standard than what we would accept in the private world? Why have judicial cannons if suspected behavior isn't reported to the proper investigative agencies?

We cannot let Jackie Musto-Carroll off the hook in this matter. She was co-operating with the FBI in their investigation of the corruption at the Luzerne County Courthouse. In the face of that co-operation she wrote a brief to the court containing 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."

From the press release of U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson dated January 26, 2009 "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.

Jill Moran Resigns As Prothonotary

After weeks of speculation Luzerne County ProthonotaryJill Moran has ended all the idle bar chatter. Moran has submitted a letter of resignation to Governor Ed Rendell's office. The Times Leader is reporting the letter, dated Friday, states Moran will resign effective March 13.

On January 20, 2009 Jennifer Learn-Andes wrote about Jill's hatrick over her boss's IRS lien.

A new moniker -- John Doe -- was attached to Powell in 2007 when The Times Leader discovered that county Prothonotary Jill Moran -- his law partner -- switched Powell's name in her office database so he wasn't linked to an Internal Revenue Service tax lien filed against him.

Moran said she had reason to believe the IRS filed the lien in error, but other county residents and businesses did not have the luxury of John Doe anonymity on liens filed against them.

Experts said her action was illegal. Federal officials were looking into the matter, but it's unclear if any official action was taken against Moran. Moran later put the lien under Powell's name in the office database.

In today's article she is quoted as stating the following: In the letter, Moran said she is resigning because "the circumstances in the Luzerne County Courthouse are making my presence in the office a distraction," according to Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Rendell.

"Thus I am resigning so that the office may continue to operate effectively," the letter says.

And some music for your listening pleasure.

Can We Really Afford The Pennsylvania Legislature Staffing?

According to a story by John Micek over at the Allentown Morning Call salaries of employees of the Pennsylvania Legislature earn more than their bosses.

He complied a list of all the 2008 Pennsylvania House and Senate salaries.

Seventy-three House and Senate staffers received more than $100,000 last year, well above the lawmaker base pay of $78,314, according to records obtained from the chief clerk's office in both chambers.

At a time the state faces a $2.3 billion budget deficit, the proposed elimination or reduction of scores of programs and the prospect of layoffs for hundreds of state employees, lawmakers and their top aides insist they're doing all they can to stretch the public's buck. They defend the salaries paid to top staffers as just compensation for invaluable experience and expertise.

But critics of big government and other reformers question why the Pennsylvania Legislature needs scores of staffers -- many well paid -- when other states make do with far less.

Over at IssuesPA you can view a chart titled Comparison of State Legislators, Staffing, Days in Session, and Costs. Below are excerpts from their paper:

While legislative salaries draw the most attention, another major factor in calculating the cost of the state’s legislature is staffing and other operational support. The 2005-2006 state budget contains $462 million for Pennsylvania’s legislative branch. Legislator’s salaries and expenses represent only a small part of that total. The total amount for the Senate and House expenses was $462,012,000.

While specific data on staff costs aren’t available for all states, comparing the number of staff provides a general cost indicator. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Pennsylvania’s legislative support staff - 2,947 - was the second largest in the nation in 2003 (latest 50-state figures available), trailing only New York.

One might argue that Pennsylvania’s a big state with a big population to support. And Pennsylvania has lots of legislators, so it follows that the legislature would have lots of staff, too. However, Pennsylvania ranks high on staff-to-population and staff-to-legislator ratios. When compared to the state’s population, Pennsylvania has the highest ratio of the 13 big states. And when measured on a staff per legislator basis, Pennsylvania comes in third behind only California and New York (which also have much smaller legislatures by population).

Not only does Pennsylvania hire lots of staff to serve its legislators, the numbers of staff have increased at a fairly high rate. Pennsylvania’s 106% increase from 1979to 2003 was among the highest. Though Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia had higher rates, their total staff complement remains far below Pennsylvania’s.

According to Micek "The 203-member House had 2,245 employees as of Dec. 31, a ratio of 11.05 employees per lawmaker, records show. The 50-member Senate had 911 employees, or 18.22 staffers per lawmaker."

The real kicker is that businesses or organizations cannot hire these government officials away from the legislature because their salaries are higher than the private sector. Usually it is the other way around. Persons usually use the term "upside down" to mean that your house is worth less than your current mortgage. Pennsylvania is upside down where the legislature staff is concerned.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Obama Folks Going After The Criminal Vote

PAWatercooler has three great posts about this topic. Courting the Felon Vote.

Felons Can Vote.

Felons Voting

Hop over to Tony Phyrillas' site and look at his article "Felons For Obama".

I envision the lines at voter registration after the cleanup at the Luzerne County Courthouse and the Bonusgaters pour through the courts.

Every Day We Get A Little Bit Close To Socialism

When Rick Santelli launched his rant on the President over the Porkulus Spendulus package Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was quick to fire back. If you look at Rick Santelli's background he was speaking about financial terms that a part of his forte. Rick's Revolt became a movement for Chicago Tea Parties all over the country.

"Maybe I could have chosen some words better, but I think at the end of the day, what this boils down to is you have to treat everybody fairly," he said the next day on NBC's "Today."

He is quoted in this article by Phil Rosenthal. “I think most Americans would rather come up with a way to give a major tax break or subsidy to a first-time buyer that qualifies, help them with their down-payment. … I think the incentive is wrong here. … Really, at the end of the day the bait-and-switch on all these packages is they were originally about jobs, then all of a sudden the stimulus plan turned into a spending package. If you want to help people … make it so it is [about] job creation because that’s what’s going to stop the slide and that’s all that’s going to stop the slide.”

Santelli said the issue, in his view, isn’t political. It’s philosophical.

“I wasn’t for the first stimulus package under the Bush administration,” he said. “I’ve been very consistent on this. I understand what derivatives and toxic assets are. I was in that business. These things are complicated and I don’t know that the taxpayers should own them.”

The point, he said, was to encourage debate.

“I want the new administration to win this one,” Santelli said. “We are all Americans. We want to win this one. It’s a question whether spending our children’s money is going to make us win or not, or is it going to take its own time to heal, like a cold going away. And all this money we’re spending isn’t going to get a very good return and when it’s over, we’re going to be in the hole deep.”

This article found on Robin Ashley's real estate site illustrates an important point in the debate over the financial bailout plan for the mortgage industry.

Communities in the Fort Lauderdale real estate area and throughout South Florida market, hit hardest by the foreclosure epidemic are slated to receive tens of millions of federal dollars to fix abandoned and foreclosed properties and help low- to moderate-income people buy homes.

Notice the federal money is directed at a particular soci-economic group and does not appear to be available for everyone. We’re looking more socialist everyday it seems.

Over $540 million will be granted to organizations in the State of Florida by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The so-called “”neighborhood stabilization grants” were awarded Friday to the nation’s communities most affected from the real estate slump. I just did not realize that those communities were specific to low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. In fact in my experience, those neighborhoods were mostly inhabited by renters.

How is it now in this interim “bailout“, that federal money is being sent to help those neighborhoods and to spur on homeownership in low- to moderate-income sector?
Albeit this money was passed out last September so one might say that Obama isn't to blame for that one.

Well, this article details Obama's Mortgage Resuce Plan, the one Robert Gibbs said Santelli didn't know what he was talking about.

President Barack Obama's massive housing and mortgage industry rescue played to mixed reviews yesterday among a sampling of New Hampshire real estate and mortgage lending experts.

Getting the most early attention the day after the plan was unveiled was a provision that will allow homeowners whose homes are valued at less than their mortgage balances to refinance at lower interest rates. To qualify, the loans must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and mortgage balances must be no more than 105 percent of value of the property.

Kurt Strandson, president of Radiant Mortgage, Inc., of Hooksett, said the new provision "leaves out a lot of people," especially when closing costs and escrowed money is included in the loan principle.

Overall, said Strandson, while details will not be revealed until March 4, "I have not seen anything in it so far that really sticks out as a means to help the amount of people that it was speculated to have accomplished."

Real estate broker Karen Coulters of Weare said further loosening of current rules to allow refinancing for mortgages that exceed 105 percent of property values would be "dangerous." She said "a lot of people who are in a good position" could say, "Why don't I just default on mine because if people are getting a break, then why am I making my payments on time?"

Mr. President, are you listening???? If the mainstream media stopped giving you a pass and started asking the tough questions we would really see this plan for what it is. Of course, enjoy their "pro bono" work for you now. The honeymoon never lasts forever.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Luzerne County Crimes- Investigators

Here is the prosecution lineup investigating the Luzerne County Courthouse corruption.

U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson, Senior Litigation Counsel Gordon Zubrod, Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Houser, Michael Consiglio, Amy Phillips, Criminal Division Chief Christian Fisanick, Janice Fedaryck, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Special Agent Richard Southerton and Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.

This list does not include the investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General's Office of Pennsylvania nor does it include any investigators from the Supreme Court.

Why did I look at this information? That is a powerhouse of people investigating the crimes within the walls of the Luzerne County Courthouse.

People are speculating whether Participant #1, Participant #2, dozens of attorneys, and others will be charged in the coming months. Grand juries take time. Look at the Bonusgate investigation. As we saw with the fourth arrest more are sure to come. Hopefully the situation will culminate in short order so that the people of Luzerne County can witness the courthouse turn back to normalcy. As for the workers in the courthouse I would think there are a lot of posteriors twitching at this point.

Go here if you want to see the caseload of this FBI Office.

Eric Holder's Law Firm Represents Gitmo Detainees

In today's emails I received the following "Washington Recap" so I decided to check its authenticity:

The American people elect a President with a total of 42 days experience as a U S Senator from the most politically corrupt state in America whose Governor is ousted from office. The President's first official act is to close Gitmo and make sure Terrorists civil rights are not violated.

The U.S. Congress rushes to confirm an Attorney General, Eric Holder, whose law firm we later find out represents seventeen Gitmo Terrorists.

Michelle Malkin brings us this news, Pay attention to Eric Holder’s law firm and Gitmo detainees.

[A]s nearly 100 of the remaining detainees are Yemenis, reflecting that country’s refusal to assure security for repatriated Yemenis, note that AG nominee Eric Holder is a senior partner with Covington & Burling, a prestigious Washington, D.C. law firm, which represents 17 Yemenis currently held at Gitmo. From the C & B website:

Human Rights

The firm represents 17 Yemeni nationals and one Pakistani citizen held at Guantánamo Bay. The Supreme Court will soon review the D.C. Circuit’s ruling that ordered the dismissal of a number of habeas petitions filed by Guantánamo detainees; some of our clients are petitioners in the Supreme Court case. We expect to play a substantial role in the briefing. We also plan to petition the Supreme Court to hear our Pakistani client’s appeal from the D.C. Circuit’s order dismissing his case. Further, we are pursuing relief in the D.C. Circuit under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 for all of our clients. On a separate front, we filed amicus briefs and coordinated the amicus effort in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in which the Supreme Court in the summer of 2006 invalidated President Bush’s military commissions and in which we have obtained favorable rulings that our clients have rights under the Fifth Amendment and the Geneva Conventions.

From the Times in the U.K.

Even before he got to work yesterday, the new Administration had halted all military trials of terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Mr Obama is expected to sign an executive order today that will close the camp within a year “to further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice”. Judges have agreed to stop the trials of five Guantánamo detainees who have been charged in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

So let me get this straight. The President of our United States halted military trials of suspected terrorist detainees who will now be represented by the firm where the Attorney General of the United States is a senior partner. Seems to be self-styled lobbying to me.

I have to ask this question. Are they pro bono, meaning the detainees not being prosecuted at all is good for the firm, or is the government going to pay the legal bills of the detainees.

The fact that Mr. Holder, while Deputy Attorney General, pushed for the release of 16 violent FALN terrorists against the advice of the FBI, the US Attorneys who prosecuted them and the NYPD officers who were maimed by them, suggests that he was perfectly willing to put politics before the national security interests of this country. He is not suited for the job of attorney general, which is central to the issues surrounding the disposition of war on terror detainees.

Read this one son's account of the loss of his father at the hands of the FALN in a vicious, cold-blooded attack on Jan. 24, 1975, the lunchtime bombing at New York City’s historic Fraunces Tavern.

In a September 1999 letter to House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, FBI Director Louis Freeh explained that “the FBI has consistently advised the DOJ in writing that the FBI was opposed to any such pardon and or commutation of sentences for any of these individuals.” Freeh said clemency “would likely return committed, experienced, sophisticated and hardened terrorists to the clandestine movement.” Mr. Freeh emphasized “the FBI was unequivocally opposed to the release of these terrorists under any circumstances and had so advised the DOJ.” Moreover, in a letter to me dated Jan. 6, 1998, (more than a year before the pardons) a senior official from Holder’s own Justice Department expressly referred to the FALN members as “terrorists.”

Yet, according to Edward Lewine of the New York Daily News, despite this opposition, “Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department official most involved with this issue, reportedly supported clemency.” Indeed, rather than consult with attack victims and their families, Mr. Holder instead met privately with members of Congress and recommended what the FALN members should do to facilitate a grant of presidential clemency.

“What an opportunity we have to change this country,” he said, as he reminded them of the vast crowd “as far as the eye could see” that had watched his inauguration on Tuesday. Blame the American public for not asking the definition of "change."

Arlen Specter- King Of The Senate

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review features an article titled "Specter stands up to party's threats."

In the article Specter imbues an air of confidence over his vote for the stimulus package.

The senator is out to prove that, agree or disagree on any particular vote he casts, you have to respect the position he has earned.

By calling Friday's press session, the senator was like a veteran bantam prizefighter out to prove he was in total control of the ways, means and narrative of his next title match.

But if there's a primary, he seems fully capable of employing his indefatigability and tenacity to demonstrate, not so subtly, that messing with him would be, well, foolish.

Somebody should remind Specter about Harry Reid, the top ranking Democrat, who wants control of the next election.

Reid pressured then Governor Blagojevich about his choices to replace Barack Obama's seat in the Senate.

Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn’t want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.

Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis — both democratic congressmen from Illinois — and against Jones — the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama — because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.

"The welfare of the country is more important than my seat in the Senate," Sen. Arlen Specter said Friday afternoon.

Senator, you hold onto that thought. I hear that the word at the Allegheny County Republican Committee Lincoln Day Dinner is your seat at the dinner table is already occupied.

Friday, February 20, 2009

AG Tom Corbett-Shock The Conscience Of People

When the next criminal charges come in the Bonusgate public corruption investigation of the Legislature, they will "shock the conscience of people" because of the staggering amount of tax money involved according to Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The grand jury investigation is proceeding more smoothly than it did a few months ago, since House Republicans agreed to turn over certain records, Corbett said in an interview before he testified to the House Appropriations Committee about his office's budget.

"The investigation is ongoing, and when we are prepared to release information, we will," he said. "If you're going down a bumpy road, you've got to slow down, don't you? It's going more smoothly now."

Corbett said he has no "time schedule" for filing criminal charges.

It seems the people over at the AP did not do their homework before reporting AP: Legislature Spent $5.8M Investigating $3.7M In Bonuses When Corbett releases the figures I am sure the latter will increase by a great amount.

If you are interested here is the link for the first grand jury indictments.

But I think you will have more fun if you click on this link- Statements From Governor, Lawmakers, General Counsel

Something you will notice on the last link. There is a link to the Harrisburg Indictment and the Pittsburgh Indictment. The mainstream media has been reporting that AG Corbett empaneled a second statewide grand jury. According to my sources inside his office and according to the links he empaneled a THIRD grand jury, two in Harrisburg and the one in Pittsburgh.

In the meantime Governor Rendell has his own problems regarding secrecy in awarding contracts.

A lack of transparency leaves auditors unable to "ascertain whether proper controls are in place to prevent fraud, abuse or other inappropriate activity from occurring during the contract" awarding process, states the 2008 audit prepared by state Auditor General Jack Wagner's office and an outside auditing company.

Wagner raised a similar issue in a preliminary audit reported on by The Patriot-News last week. That draft audit involves nearly $600 million in technology contracts awarded to the international consulting firm Deloitte from 2004 through 2007, during Gov. Ed Rendell's administration.

Rep. Douglas Reichley, R-Lehigh County, who has been critical of the Rendell administration's contracting practices, said he doesn't understand why Rendell doesn't mandate full cooperation with auditors.

Rendell must take a lesson from his Democratic friends in Luzerne County.

Here's a great article at the National Institute of Corrections on Building Community Support for New Jail Construction. You could also read an article about Marketing Strategies for Inmate Programs: A Succinct Review. Seems pretty simple to me. Get the FBI and the Attorney General into your county and you have a "captive" audience. Ohhh...wait..that is "captured" audience.

Luzerne County Crimes- And There Is More To Come

From the Times Leader

According to the Times Leader, Sandra Brulo, probation services program director, has been arraigned at 1:50P.M. today on charges she altered a juvenile court file with the intent to impair the file's integrity for use in federal proceedings. She made it to the big leagues. She was taken into custody by federal authorities and arraigned before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion at the federal courthouse in Wilkes Barre.

Her pay was suspended by order of President Judge Chester Muroski. Brulo has worked for the county for many years and previously served as chief juvenile probation officer. Her salary was $78,160.

Maybe they can convert PAChildCare into PAAdultCare- Close To Home.

Bill Clinton- Videotapes Refute Your Statements

Typical Democratic BiPositionionship from Bill "I didn't have sex with that woman" Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton gives President Barack Obama an "A" grade for his first month in office, but tells ABC News that Obama needs to put on a more positive face when speaking to the American people about the economy and must keep pressure on Republicans who try to obstruct his plans.

Regarding Obama's bleak warnings that "the economy could get worse before it gets better," and that the economic stimulus program is only the beginning of the end of the economic crisis, Clinton said, "I like the fact that he didn't come in and give us a bunch of happy talk. I'm glad he shot straight with us."

Clinton gives former President George W. Bush a harsh review on the economy, however, blaming the Republican for the current fiscal crisis by not moving sooner to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.

"I personally believe, based on my experience over the years with the economy, that if we moved aggressively on this home problem a year and a half ago, even a year ago, as much as 90 percent of the current crisis could have been avoided," he said.

On really Bill. Sit back and watch the video. News reports detailing the actions by both former president Clinton and current president Obama, and how they lead to the current financial collapse America is facing. The second half of the video is especially interesting, as it contains footage of interviews with Obama in which he details how important it is to force banks into making bad loans.

"But aggresively to take a great risk on these mortgages, yes...They would have not qualified but for this affirmitive action on the part of the bank, yes."

Tea Party Part III- To Pay Or Not To Pay by Sitafa Harden

Here is a paraphrase on an original article that appeared on

To Pay or Not To Pay (My Mortgage): An "Untroubled" Homeowner's Hardship Letter

by Sitafa Harden

Dear Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

I understand that you’ve been busy coming up with proposals to help borrowers facing foreclosure save their homes. But what about me?

I’ve never missed a mortgage payment, but I am certainly a troubled homeowner. I’m troubled because, like most of my neighbors, I currently owe much more on my house than it is worth.

It seems almost irresponsible to me to continue paying on a home that is losing value faster than former President Bush‘s approval ratings. And the 7-year hit to my credit for a mortgage default would be like a gift compared the 10-15 years of payments I’d have to make just to get back the equity I had on the first day I purchased my home.

Basically, there is virtually no reason for me not to simply mail my house keys back to the bank, pack up my cat, and flee to the solace of the nearest luxury apartment community.

In fact, a part of me wants to do just that, but I’m hanging in there for a couple of reasons.

First, because I believe that stable homeowners are one of the last strongholds of this economy preventing us from slipping into a downturn much worse than the Great Depression.

And, secondly, because I have faith that the new administration will come up with an equitable solution to this crises…eventually.

Let me repeat. I have faith in the administration. So please don’t let me down.

My cat and I are depending on you.

Hazleton mayor lights fire under county GOP

Read the article online at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review website.

"Some believe the key to our future lies in moderating," he said. "With all due respect, those who believe that could not be more wrong."

Tea Party Part II- CommonSensePoliticalThought

As a follow-up to the Rick Santelli post I offer these comments from Common Sense Political Thought under Schadenfreude and a graph from Michelle Malkin's website. I believe this graph illustrates what Rick Santelli was trying to tell the world. Remember, Treasury Secretary Geithner wants to throw up to $2 trillion at this problem.

To quote Dana But this isn’t welfare to help the poor; this is welfare for the well-to-do; they just aren’t quite as well-to-do as they thought they were! This is welfare for people who bought bigger and nicer houses than they could afford, people who thought they were moving up in the world, and over-bought.

Santelli's Chicago Tea Party In July- Paying Your Mortgage IS A Moral Hazard

Rev. Al Sharpton- Publicity Opportunist Extraordinaire

Rev. Al Sharpton attacked this cartoon claiming it is racist. Yo Rev. Why didn't you attack this cartoon two days before for picking on blind people?? I guess there is a distinction on whether one African-American is blind or not.

BTW Al, I believe the Porkulus Spendulous package was authored by more than one person. Quit your whining. Sean Delona's comments: "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist," Allan said in a written statement.

Visit Political Rants and see what the ZenMaster has to say about it.

Look at this post on

AG Eric Holder, Rev. Al Sharpton, and other black spokespersons do more harm than good for their cause. We aren’t cowards. Almost everytime a white person talks about color somehow it is twisted as racist. So here goes. This country did not elect an African-American as President of the United States. The country elected an American. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. You are Irish if you are born in Ireland. You are Italian if you are born in Italy. You are an American if you were born on American soil and your birth certificate says so. Yet, it is important for people of color to point to Barack’s skin tone.

His heritage makes him half white. So why didn’t we elect a white President? All of the sudden skin color matters?? The men in military who were born in this country fighting overseas or serving anywhere, are they Americans, or because of their skin color, are they African-American? Do they fight behind the American Flag or the African-American Flag? Every soldier I ever met was proud as hell to be an American.

If you were born in this country the only way you are going to take ownership of that title is to seize it, not disguise it. The President of the United States needs to be a leader in the forefront of the discussion. He has to tell America that Americans are Americans. If you were born here, grew up here, worked here, and retire here you should be proud to be an American. Our ancestors who came here created the melting pot. But those of us who are born here are not part of that pot. We are part of the United States of America. And the sooner people of color take ownership of that title the sooner their perceived “Berlin Wall” will come crashing down.

If you don’t want to be called black quit pointing it out. In all of my point please do not lose sight of the fact that everyone’s cultural heritage is important, no different than religion. Traditions are not lost when one calls him/herself an American. Parents teach their children about where they came from in the timeline of life. Nothing in that teaching interferes with the birthplace of a person. And I do believe that should never be lost. It is something to be shared among Americans. It is something to be explored by Americans. It is something that we do as Americans.

Eric and Rev. Al, the ball is in your court now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Legislators Just Don't Learn Their Lesson

An article in the Times Leader from the AP highlights the amount of money spent by the Pennsylvania Legislature on the Bonusgate probe. This debacle has cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $5.8 million so far in expenses.

What I find interesting is that the House Democrats needed a Right to Know request before releasing their figures. Rep. Lisa Bennington, D-Allegheny, wants all Pennsylvania laws online and free to the public. She is quoted as saying-"As we continue to examine ways to foster a more open and transparent government, I believe it is important that we ensure the general public has free online access to our state laws," Bennington said. In 2007 Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, proposed that pharmaciessubmit retail prices for 150 of the most popular medications as part of the Governor's efforts for price transparency.

I guess that transparency doesn't extend to how much of our taxpayer money is spent. If you want to read more about Todd Eachus see what Eric Epstein had to say over at the Central Penn Business Journal.

KDKA out of Pittsburgh reported on February 16, 2009 that Rep. Jake Wheatley D-Hill District, is accused by his former campaign manager, of using staff for political work.

"I don't have any comment," Wheately told me last Friday when I confronted him with allegations that he ordered his office staff to perform political work on the public's time.

The allegations were brought to me by Brad Young, Wheatley's former campaign manager.

Young produced an e-mail from Wheatley to his government office staff which by all appearances directed them to do work for Wheatley's re-election campaign last fall.

"I think it's clearly wrong. These people need to hire professional campaign staff to manage their campaigns instead of using their state employees as their campaign staff," Young said.

According to Young, the Wheatley campaign received a list of some 2,300 Democratic contributors in anticipation of inviting them to a fundraiser.

Young says Wheatley e-mailed four government office workers in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh ordering them to find e-mail and phone numbers for each.

In the e-mail, Wheatley says, "I need all hands on deck," and "getting this accomplished is a major priority."

He tells the staff to, "start breaking the list up amongst the four of you," and in a subsequent e-mail, Wheatley's chief of staff assigns each worker about 500 names each to research.

Young has turned the emails over to AG Tom Corbett's office. I guess that bill really is $5.8 million and counting.

Stimulus Impact In Pennsylvania

There is an article on that outlines the purported benefits to Pennsylvania from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Due to its importance to many Pennsylvanians I want to post most of it in its entirety as a reference to help those in need. (I am suspending my reference to the act as Porkulus Spendulous for this article only.)

The White House estimates the stimulus bill would create 23,500 jobs in central Pennsylvania alone. Whether it actually stimulates the sickly American economy waits to be seen. But here's a look at highlights of what Pennsylvanians should expect from the $787 billion economic stimulus package:

- Up to $400 for workers (or $800 for married couples). Workers will receive $13 more in their paychecks beginning in June; it drops to $8 a week in January.
- $250 to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and disabled veterans.
- $2,500 for 138,000 additional families for the American Opportunity Tax Credit that makes college more affordable.
- Extended and increased Homebuyer Tax Credit to help aspiring homeowners and stabilize plummeting home prices. First-time homebuyers who purchase their homes before Dec. 1 would be eligible for an $8,000 tax credit.
- Homeowners who add energy-efficient windows, furnaces and air conditioners can get a tax credit to cover 30 percent of the costs, up to a total of $1,500.
- Extended Bonus Depreciation and Small Business Expensing through 2009, allowing businesses that make capital investments to immediately deduct one-half the cost. Small businesses can immediately deduct 100 percent of the cost of these investments.
- Protects 972,000 Pennsylvanians from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
- A new deduction for sales taxes on cars will be available this tax year for purchases or leases of up to $49,500.

- College students -- or their parents -- are eligible for tax credits of up to $2,500 to help pay tuition and related expenses in 2009 and 2010.
- Money to modernize at least 412 schools labs, classrooms, libraries and more.
- $1.6 billion to school districts and public colleges and universities, in addition to incentive grants, as a reward for meeting key education performance measures.
- $426.6 million for Special Education Part B State Grants to improve educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
- $15.4 million to match unemployed individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow Pennsylvania to provide customized reemployment services.

- For many workers, the government will pick up 65 percent of health insurance premiums for the first nine months under the COBRA program. COBRA applies to group plans at companies employing at least 20 people. The subsidies will be offered to those who lost their jobs from Sept. 1 to the end of this year. Those who were put out of work after September but didn't elect to have COBRA coverage at the time will have 60 days to sign up.

- $1 million to help law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the Internet or other computer technology to sexually exploit children.
- $6.4 million to improve the response to violent crimes against women and to assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

- $66.2 million to address the backlog of drinking water infrastructure needs.
- $157.6 million to address the backlog of clean water infrastructure needs.
- $1 billion in highway funding.
- $343.7 million for investments in mass transit.
- $95 million to enable state and local government, in partnership with community-based organizations, to acquire, construct and rehabilitate affordable housing and provide rental assistance.
- $90.4 million for homelessness prevention activities.

- $100.8 million through the State Energy Program.
- $258.8 million through the Weatherization Assistance Program.

- $275 million in new funding if Pennsylvania fully enacts the unemployment insurance modernization incentives that the legislation would provide. This means that an additional $100 in unemployment insurance benefits will be offered to approximately 1.1 million workers who have lost their jobs in this recession.
- Temporarily suspending the federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits per recipient in 2009.

Sources: The White House; The Democratic Policy Committee; The Associated Press,

Arlen Specter- How Much Will The Stimulus Package Bring to PA?

If you read all the articles there are more figures floating around about Pennsylania's share of the Porkulus Spendulous package than Carter has liver pills.

Here is a breakdown:

The Philadelphia Business Journal: $22.91 billion

KDKA out of Pittsburgh: Pennsylvania To Get $16B Piece Of Stimulus Pie

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Stimulus may give Pa. $10 billion over 2 years

The Morning Call: But that is just the icing on a $10 billion-plus spending cake for the state over the next two years.

Whatever the figure is please keep in mind Senator Arlen Specter's efforts - Specter played an active role, however, in making sure $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a pet priority, wasn't cut back.

Let's go with $16 billion since that is the latest figure from Fast Eddie. We have to ask Arlen Specter- $10 billion for an agency that already receives federal funding?! All I can say is that Kanjorski had an easier campaign that yours will be due to Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Paul, don't take that as an endorsement. I am sure John Murtha's anchor is already being built with Navy appropriations.

Murtha's Earmark Troubles Spilling Over Into The Halls Of Congress

Paul Kanjorski took offense to criticism over the money he obtained for companies owned, operated, or employing members of his family. He never fully understood the contempt of the public or disdain for such a blatant distrust for the public's money. I believe had he owned up to the situation his electoral challenges would be a lot less from any contender.

Let's move onto John Murtha. Forget we are all rednecks, well the people who live in his district anyway. There is an earmark scandal breaking(click on link for entire article) over a lobbyist firm linked to Murtha. PMA, the firm with ties to Murtha, secured earmarks from nearly one-fourth of Congress.

PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.

No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group. From CQPolitics:

Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).

And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.

According to CQ MoneyLine, the same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.

PMA and its employees have not given campaign money to the top three House Republican leaders, John A. Boehner of Ohio, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Mike Pence of Indiana.

Whyd did I start this article off about Paul Kanjorski? Here's what the Democrats in Pennsylvania did according to the report.

Among the top 20 recipients of PMA campaign dollars since 2001 are Pennsylvania Democrats Mike Doyle ($69,400), Tim Holden ($57,275), Paul Kanjorski ($37,150) and Chris Carney ($38,500) — even though Carney was first elected in 2006.

In the PMA donation top 30 are Pennsylvania Reps. Patrick J. Murphy ($29,250), Allyson Y. Schwartz ($25,000) and Jason Altmire ($24,500). Schwartz was first elected in 2004, and Altmire and Murphy first won their seats in 2006.

Those Pennsylvanians combined for $17.3 million in PMA earmarks in the single fiscal 2008 bill shepherded by Murtha.

So much for Barack Obama's pledge concerning lobbyists. His work is cut out for him to get his flock back inside the fence.