Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kanjorski’s District Has Highest Unemployment Rate In State

When Paul Kanjorski attacked Lou Barletta over a false unemployment report regarding Hazleton he didn't realize how soon the shoe would be on the other foot.

Here is the latest press release from the Barletta Campaign Office.

Statistics expose 26-year incumbent’s failed economic policies

Hazleton, PA – The unemployment rate in Paul Kanjorski’s congressional district is now the highest in the entire state of Pennsylvania, continuing to show that the 26-year incumbent’s failed economic policies are destroying our regional economy and costing area residents thousands of jobs.

Kanjorski’s district has “significantly higher unemployment” than the state and the national average, according to the Scranton Times. In the same article, a professor of economics stated, “Being the worst in the state doesn’t speak well of our economy.” (8/31/10)

It also doesn’t speak well of Kanjorski’s economic policies.

The regional unemployment rate is now the highest in Pennsylvania at 10.4 percent – a number that has seen “a fairly steady ascent from 8.8 percent in July 2009,” according to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (8/31/10). That mirrors Kanjorski’s lock-step votes for the government takeover of health care and the destructive energy tax known as cap and trade.

“The official unemployment data provides irrefutable proof that Kanjorski's actions have severely hurt our region. It's no wonder he is afraid to meet the people of his district face-to-face at public town meetings. Kanjorski and Nancy Pelosi promised us that if they passed the $800 billion stimulus bill, unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent. Clearly, that was a lie, and both our unemployment rate and national debt continue to rise.

Kanjorski’s reckless vote to take over our health care system directly cost the jobs of at least 100 Sallie Mae employees in Hanover Township. Many other Kanjorski votes – for cap and trade, to raise taxes and fees 150 times – have cost thousands of other jobs right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Shawn Kelly, spokesman for the campaign of Lou Barletta. “At the end of the day, Kanjorski only cares about one job – his.”.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ed Whitebread- Are You Serious?

In today's Times Leader article by Bill O'Boyle there are comments by Ed Whitebread, Democrat and Chairman of the Conyngham Township Board of Supervisors that cannot go unnoticed.

Ed Whitebread, chairman of the Conyngham Township Board of Supervisors – all three supervisors are Democrats – said he supports the project and is hopeful his town is selected.

“Congressman Kanjorski met with us and supervisors from Newport Township to explain the project,” Whitebread said. “I personally think this would be one of the greatest things that could happen in years.”

Whitebread did not attend the tour of the proposed site – Kanjorski said only he and the representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the General Services Administration took the tour. Whitebread said he wouldn’t badmouth Barletta, but said the mayor has his facts wrong.

Whitebread did not attend the tour of the proposed site – Kanjorski said only he and the representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the General Services Administration took the tour. Whitebread said he wouldn’t badmouth Barletta, but said the mayor has his facts wrong.

“There won’t be any aircraft used there and no bombs,” he said. “I don’t understand where he’s going with this.”

Mr. Whitebread, are you actually serious? Did you bother to read anything about the FASTC project? Did you have any conversation with Michael Dziak, President/CEO of Earth Conservancy? According to his interview with Steve Corbett Mr. Dziak stated he found out about the FASTC project that was to be located on a farm in Ruthsburg, Maryland. So let's start there. Here is a link to the official State Department website on FASTC and information about the Hunt Ray Farm site in Ruthsburg, Maryland.

Mr. Whitebread, please read this document titled "GSA Public Meeting Transcript of February 23, 2010" Go to page 38 and you will read the following:

I'd like to ask a few questions. These explosive bombs that you are planning on using and detonators, is white frost phosphorous chromium zinc oxide hexachloroethane hydrouretic acid which is being use at the Aberdeen which is a toxic superfund site. Aberdeen Proving Ground in the Edgewood area. Just go to the web. All of our superfund sites on there. All of our military bases are the super fund clean ups. Toxic waste sites because they're polluted. The water is polluted from explosive chemicals.

In this press release from Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland the reason for abandoning the proposed farm site in Ruthsburg, Maryland is quite clear.

In her letter today, Administrator Johnson said that, “In this case, the preliminary analysis showed that, among other potential concerns, there would be a significant change in land use and considerable noise and traffic impacts.

It is true that there would be no routine aircraft training on the site but there would still be military helicopters bringing in brass from time to time.

According to this chart normal conversation registers about 60 decibels. A quarter stick of dynamite is almost 3 times as loud at 175 decibels but could exceed 210. A one pound bomb of TNT at 15 feet is 180 decibels. A one pound bomb is 191 decibels. Human eardrums rupture at 195 decibels.

Here is a post about bomb detonation and machine gun fired at the proposed FASTC site in Maryland.

6. How loud will the bombs, shooting range, and other loud activities are for the people living around the facility and from Tuckahoe State Park? What is a comparison? How much louder will these be relevant to the existing land use? Exactly what size bombs, guns, etc. will be tested? What will be the schedule for these activities?

Our preliminary estimates of the noise levels that the 3 lb charge will be in the range of 120 decibels (dBA) at the nearest property line. This is similar to being nearby a shotgun as it fires and is an impulsive sound. These events will occur 6 times per year. The 0.5 lb charge is estimated at 105 dBA at the nearest property line. This is similar in noise level to an air powered nail gun at 5 feet, a short burst of sound, and will occur 493 times per year. This is also similar to a cut off saw, chainsaw at 5 feet, jackhammer and many shop tools. These are impulsive sounds, rather than constant sounds, so this will be distinctly different from the majority of the existing farming, agriculture and traffic noises that exist in the community.

The firing ranges are estimated at around 80-90 dBA at Ruthsburg with multiple guns firing at once. This is equivalent to a loud voice at 5 feet, a balloon popping at 5 feet, or a motorcycle at approximately 50 feet. Again, these are impulsive sounds. Gun fire noise during hunting season is common at the site, and the noise levels will be approximately in that range, however the training center’s firing ranges will be fully baffled with walls and overhead ceiling baffles also.

The final results of the final noise analysis will be published in the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). Upon publication, the public can review the EA analysis and the findings, and participate in a 30-day comment period. These findings will also be used to modify the plans and operations for the facility to avoid or mitigate any adverse impact. Development of the site cannot, and will not, begin until the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is completed.

Evidently they were not able to mitigate the adverse impacts to the site in Maryland according to the GSA decision to abandon the Hunt Ray Farm listed in Senator Mikulski's press release.

Mr. Whitebread, those are the facts. Consider yourself McGruffed.

The Democratic politicians including Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joseph Bieden, Nancy Pelosi, and the local Democratic Supervisor have on mission in mind.

Earth Conservancy's Land Use Dilemma

Michael Dziak, President/CEO of Earth Conservancy drew himself into the 11th Congressional Race yesterday with his appearance on WILK's Steve Corbett Show.

I want to demonstrate that Mr. Dziak is acting more like a politician than a CEO. The following pictures depict land use that was determined by a slew of consultants on behalf of Earth Conservancy. It should clearly demonstrate that both Kanjorski and Dziak are grossly deviating from published plans on record regarding the use of the proposed site for an anti-terrorist training center.

The top picture above is an illustration that award winning graphics artist Gary Visgaitis made for the Times Leader depicting the proposed site for the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC). The picture below it is from the Land Use Plan on Earth Conservancy's website. It is Figure 5.1 under Recommended Development Plans. If you read the legend you will see that the proposed use for the area designated in Paul Kanjorski's release is listed as RESIDENTIAL/RESORT.

This picture is Figure 6.1 under prepared by EDAW, Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia in conjunction with many consultants including engineering firms. If you look at the legend it again states the land use as RESIDENTIAL/RESORT with the remaining portion of the land in question as PARKLAND/OPEN SPACE.

Let's take a look at another picture. Below is Figure 4.2 under Alternate Development Concepts. It lists the area in question as the PENOBSCOT MOUNTAIN RESORT.

Let's look at one final picture to bring this issue home. This map is from Earth Conservancy's Open Space Constraints web page listed as Map 1-1.

Expand the picture and read the legend. The site proposed for FASTC is listed as "THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES". In this article from the Baltimore Sun the EPA had serious concerns for the proposed 2,000 acre farm site in Ruthsburg, Maryland.

"EPA believes that the project may adversely affect the aquatic and terrestrial environment, including wetlands and, potentially, endangered species," wrote Jeffrey D. Lapp, associate director of EPA's regional Office of Environmental Programs in Philadelphia.

In this press release from Paul Kanjorski last September he applauds the Earth Conservancy for restoring many acres for gamelands, greenspace or recreation, such as the Mocanaqua Loop Trail and Penobscot Ridge Bike Trail. According to the Earth Conservancy website the Penobscot Ridge Bike Trail encompasses 1,577 acres.

The trail includes two trailhead facilities with picnic areas including tables and grills and ample parking are located at either end of the two-mile long trail. The mountain bike area consists of a main trunk trail suitable for families, which has easy to moderate bicycling opportunities. There are other unofficial trails throughout the area. Acreage of the entire reclaimed area is 1,557 acres. The project was completed in November 2005.

It is important to remember that appropriate gear and clothes be worn for any cycling or hiking done in the area. Cyclists and hikers should bring appropriate rain gear to be prepared for quick changes in weather. Hydration and energy are also important in cycling and hiking, so always bring bottled water and easy trail foods like granola bars to keep in pockets or backpacks.
They left out ear plugs when the bombs go off.

Evidently the CEO of Earth Conservancy is coming to the political rescue of his founder, Paul Kanjorski. Otherwise he would be transparent with the public about the real issues and concerns for using such a site. He claimed on Corbett's show that he went to Kanjorski with this site. Mike, do you ever look at your own maps and drawings? Well at least I did.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC)

Here is a link to the general information about the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center. Below is the latest release.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECURITY TRAINING CENTER [FASTC]An American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 Project

After further analysis, the Department of State (DoS) and General Services Administration (GSA) have determined that the Hunt Ray/CrismerFarm in Queen Anne’s County will no longer be considered for the proposed DoSForeign Affairs Security Training Center. DoSand GSA remain committed to a robust and transparent public engagement process and value the input from the citizens of Queen Anne’s County and the leadership of both Federal and local representatives on behalf of the community throughout this process.

As DoSincreases its workforce and presence in unstable regions of the world, the need for a consolidated training center for DoS'Bureau of Diplomatic Security is even more important to ensure the safety and security of our civilian employees and partners. DoSand GSA are actively engaged in a site selection process and look forward to opening this essential national security facility and being good neighbors.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECURITY TRAINING CENTER [FASTC]An American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 Project

I Want Your Money

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kanjorski Drops Bombshell on Luzerne County Residents

The following is from a Lou Barletta For Congress 2010 press release:

Kanjorski drops bombshell on Luzerne County residents

Lou Barletta vows to fight this dangerous idea to bring
500 explosions a year to our area

Hazleton, PA – Paul Kanjorski wants to open a military-style training camp in Conyngham Township, a quiet community that will have to get used to “chases, machine-gun fire and bomb blasts” that will take place at the facility. (Washington Post, 2/23/10).

There would be about 500 bomb blasts a year at the site, according to published reports about a similar project proposed for Maryland. That project was successfully fought and killed by Maryland residents, who said the military-style camp would disrupt their lives.

Now, Kanjorski wants to bring this project to Conyngham Township under the guise of local job creation – yet according to the Washington Times, federal officials questioned about the Maryland project “did acknowledge that they could make no guarantee that the promised 400 jobs, many in food service, groundskeeping and maintenance, would go to local residents.” (3/29/10)

“In an election year, we expect Paul Kanjorski to come up with some wild ideas in his quest to retain power, but this one is hard to believe. Kanjorski is clearly out of touch if he believes the residents of Conyngham Township – and the miles around the site that will bear the brunt of repeated bomb blasts – would be in favor of this project. For Kanjorski to take a dangerous project that the people of Maryland rejected and now try to pass it on to the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania shows how desperate he is,” said Shawn Kelly, spokesman for Lou Barletta, Hazleton mayor and candidate for Congress.

Kanjorski has overpromised and underdelivered for the residents of the 11th District for years, and he’s always reached for the fantastical, whether it’s mystery employers only he knows about, moving sidewalks, monorails, inflatable dams, or everyone’s favorite, the Kanjorski family goldmine known to us as Cornerstone Technologies. Sadly, Kanjorski continues to lead people on with the promise of new jobs as unemployment in the region is at an 18-year high due to his failed economic policies.

Lou Barletta said, “I will never put residents of this district in danger by supporting a project like this. What guarantees are we going to have that children will not sneak onto this bomb range? What will this project do to home values? What businesses are going to move into a town that’s rocked by 500 explosions a year? Mr. Kanjorski’s project will completely destroy the area around it, and I’m going to fight it.

“We need good jobs and real answers to our problems, not more of Kanjorski’s fantasy projects – least of all one that will turn our communities into bomb ranges. I believe Northeastern Pennsylvania needs jobs, but not at any cost – and certainly not in exchange for 500 bomb blasts a year.”

Facts about Kanjorski’s bomb range

• This project was rejected by the citizens of a community in Maryland because the noise and commotion that would come from the chases, machine-gun fire, and bomb blasts would disrupt their way of life.
• The project was so toxic that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley – both Democrats – withdrew their support of it after the public outcry.
• Only 400 jobs would be created. Most of them would be support-level jobs – food service, groundskeeping, and maintenance.
• Federal officials cannot guarantee that any of those jobs will go to local residents.
• From July 2009 to September 2009, the federal government narrowed down the list of potential sites to five – the Maryland site, two in Virginia, and two in West Virginia. Pennsylvania isn’t even on the list of finalists, let alone Northeastern Pennsylvania.
• The federal government is looking for a site within 150 miles of the U.S. Capitol. State Department officials say that distance was calculated as the maximum commute students could reasonably be required to travel by car from Washington in one day. Kanjorski’s bomb range is outside of that radius.
• Federal officials admitted there would be 500 bombs detonated at the facility each year.

“Some in Md. town call anti-terrorism training plan a dud,” The Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2010
“‘Porky’ project smells bad to locals,” The Washington Times, March 29, 2010
“GSA drops plan for Maryland training site,” The Washington Times, July 29, 2010 End of Press Release

According to published reports the government tries to sell the public on the fact that they will be exploding 3 pound bombs at the training facility. S.O.P. found this video on the net. Here's what a 3 lbs. of explosive placed in a bunker looks like.

Ultra Slow Motion Explosion - Watch more Funny Videos

Instead of wasting our stimulus money which could be used elsewhere to stimulate this lucklaster economy why doesn't the government consider one of the 350 military bases it has closed under the Base Realignment and Closure (or BRAC)process.

Every time Paul Kanjorski slams Lou Barletta about the dredge project remember the EPA has identified and placed 34 military bases on its Superfund list and the agency is concerned with incomplete pollution cleanup at another 100 facilities. Maybe its time Kanjorski pays attention to the federal government.

Kanjorski's Porky Spending Again

SOP has learned that Paul Kanjorski's pending announcement this afteroon will release plans to bring an anti-terrorism training center to Northeastern Pennsylvania, probably billed as "Tobyhanna South".

This facility was proposed for Ruthsburg, Queen Annes County, Maryland but was soundly rejected by its residents.

It is interesting that Kanjorski's announcement puts the potential jobs at 1,000 while the Washington Times article pegs the number nearer 400, mostly custodial, maintenance, and food service.

For more than three hours, officials from the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the General Services Administration patiently answered questions and withstood scathing comments that revealed an opposition and distrust rivaling the most confrontational displays in last year's health care town-hall summits.

They promised the campus would be a good neighbor and pledged to mitigate traffic and noise problems.

But many residents say the stimulus funds and the jobs come with too big a price tag. They fear that long after the financial crisis has passed, they will be saddled with a facility that spoils the rural character of the area, strains the local infrastructure and further harms the environment around the Chesapeake Bay.

And many are just distrustful of promises made by the federal government.

Here is a link to a Washington Post article that spells out many opposition points to such a facility.

This article from the Baltimore Sun illustrates a great point about Kanjorski's motive to tought jobs.

The politicians "heard 'jobs, jobs, jobs,' and at that point, they stopped thinking. They never looked under the hood," said Jim Campbell, 71, a former partner at a high-powered Washington law firm who retired to a waterfront neighborhood on an arm of the Chesapeake Bay, about 10 miles from the proposed site.

They warn that the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center -- with its driving tracks for teaching evasive maneuvers, mock urban center for live-fire training and explosives pit for detonating 3-pound bombs -- would be a "little Aberdeen." Some are convinced the installation could eventually swallow more of the surrounding area, a roughly 30-square-mile swath of countryside with relatively few residents and little commercial development.

At the heart of the local opposition are a number of concerns, both practical and ideological: hostility to the stimulus law, worries about declining property values on nearby farms, possible environmental damage and noise from munitions blasts used to teach agents about roadside bombs.

This announcement is just another fantasy for Shamjorski's Dreamville- High Speed Rail from Scranton to New York, Kanjorski Center Nanticoke, Cargo Airport Hazleton, Regional Equipment Company, Cornerstone Technologies, Infatable Dam, Wall Street West (actually located in Bethlehem), Earth Conservancy, Hybrid Auto Plant, Sallie Mae's 2000 jobs that turned to lost jobs...when will it stop...next Disney will be located here with all the verbal rides Kanjorski sends this area on for political reasons. Remember he was the one quoted as saying Democrats are willing to stretch the facts to win an election.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When Did Politicians Last Surprise Us — By Doing What's Right?

Credit the headline to Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer prize winner, but more on that later in the post.

In an Opinion written by Mark Guydish of the Times Leader he drives home a great point about the necessity of transparency in government. He attacks House Majority Leader Todd Eachus for his "utterly uninformative remark" regarding legislative staff costs to the taxpayer's of Pennsylvania.

Eachus said “Our personnel office uses industry-wide best practices and standards, much like other public or private organizations, for salaries, ranges and job classifications. Beyond that, we don’t discuss details of our personnel decisions.”

When did the hiring practices and procedures of public officials become proprietary information? Is Eachus worried that Houses of Representatives in other states will steal Pennsylvania’s “best practices,” thus taking away our House’s competitive edge? Are we – despite having the most bloated legislative staff in the nation – at risk of a legislative staff gap?

Todd’s utterly uninformative remark was pathetic party-line self protection. In a legislature where $100 million goes toward staff, the names and salaries of staff members already are public. Sadly, you have to ask for them, and as former legislative aide turned reformer Tim Potts noted in an e-mail: “Technically, all staff work for the caucus leadership, not for the legislators.” Which means legislators can say they employ no staff, and be telling the truth.

Back to Thomas Friedman. He penned an Opinion for the New York Times about politicians doing what's right. Freidman was talking about the mosque in New York. The Standard Speaker picked up this column where the headline reads "The real divide is among Muslims." Friedman describes what he feels is missing in our leadership today by using Nelson Mandella as an example of rising above the crowd.

When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team's name and colors, Mandela stopped them. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. "That is selfish thinking," Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. "It does not serve the nation." Then speaking of South Africa's whites, Mandela adds, "We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity." I love that line: "We have to surprise them." I was watching the movie on an airplane and scribbled that line down on my napkin because it summarizes what is missing today in so many places: Leaders who surprise us by rising above their histories, their constituencies, their pollsters, their circumstances — and just do the right things for their countries.

I tried to recall the last time a leader of importance surprised me on the upside by doing something positive, courageous and against the popular will of his country or party. I can think of a few: Yitzhak Rabin in signing onto the Oslo peace process. Anwar Sadat in going to Jerusalem. And, of course, Mandela in the way he led South Africa.

Eachus has been missing the point of leadership for a long time. He wants to hide behind House Rule 14 which he and his peers made to say that Per Diems are legal.

He doesn't want to disclose what the legislative salaries, ranges and job classifications. Why Todd? We must continue to ask Why? Here is a man who campaigned against midnight pay raises. Here is a man who campaigned against WAMS.

In this Opinion article from Robert Swift he informs us that WAMS are still available for incumbent protection.

It used to be that you knew a WAM when you saw one. A grant announced by a lawmaker to pay for repairs to a municipal building, the purchase of Little League equipment or a hometown festival. In recent years, you could get a good idea of the amount allocated for WAMs by checking the "community revitalization" spending item under the Department of Community and Economic Development.

That spending item is zero-funded in the new state budget, but WAMs have migrated to other repositories: "community conservation and employment" funded at $24 million and "urban development' funded at $10 million.

As WAMs have spread out so has the debate about what they are. The market-oriented Commonwealth Foundation has identified what it calls governor's WAMs. Some suggest that spending where officials can exercise discretion about who the recipients are constitute WAMs.

In this press release Rep. John Yudichak is transparent about the fact that legislatvie leadership accounts have $200 million in funds. Previously John Yudichak stated the Legislature "has to put more on the table," including long-hoarded leadership accounts, which he figures at about $200 million and calls "a padded reserve to buttress leaders."

In John Baer's column in the Philadelphia Daily News Cut services? Raise taxes? Let's try something newhe highlights some ideas that are right for Pennsylvanians.

Any WAMs, says Rep. Gene DePasquale, D-York, "should be first to go . . . clearly before cuts to health care, education or environmental protection."

Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delco, calls cutting WAMs "a good suggestion."

Back to Mark Guydish's Opinion. Amidst exposure of ingrained corruption and outcries for true reform, such a move is a no-brainer.

Which makes Eachus’ statement insulting to anyone with intelligence.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lou Barletta's Interview With La Voz Latina

The Morning Call's state house reporter John Micek will poke fun at Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta by reporting on Barletta in Spanish rather than English. Here is a link to one of those posts.

La Voz Latina is a regional newspaper marketed to the Hispanic community. Unlike El Mensajero that publishes exclusively in Spanish, La Voz editors recognized the importance of publishing in both English and Spanish so readers across both spectrums would be interested in their articles.

This month's issue contains an interview with Mayor Barletta by J. Gonzalez.

Here is an excerpt from that interview.

When I interviewed Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, we discussed many issues. I brought the president of La Voz Latina Newspaper, Paul Oreck, with me to the interview. We started the interview by discussing immigration issues, and I asked Mayor Lou Barletta directly why it appeared as if he had discriminated against Hispanics?

You can pick up a copy of the paper for yourself. Mr. Gonzalez ended his article with this summary.

Mr. Barletta is a candidate for Congress that comes from a family of immigrants; he understands the issue clearly but he believes in a legal immigration policy. I left the interview with the impression that Mr. Barletta is a man of great leadership and energy and not a bit racist as potrayed by others. Best of luck and God bless. J. Gonzalez

For my friend Gort and his buddy Mr. Micek I will retype the summary.

El Senor Barletta es el candidato para el Congresso y le deseamos lo mejor para esta campana. Mi impresion esta clara con respecto al Senor. Barletta, un hombre de liderazgo y energia, que no es racista. Siga adelante y qque DIOS lo bendiga. por J. Gonazlez.

I guess that is why Lou Barletta received 52% of the Hispanic vote in the last election.

Freedom- Keep It Alive

New controversy near the site of Ground Zero is emerging as St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a tiny, four-story building that had been located directly in front of the second tower has been stymed in its attempt to rebuild by the Port Authority of New York. According to FoxNews the Port Authority has killed the relocation project.

To those who claim the erection of a mosque near Ground Zero is all about religious freedom please the video below. It is obvious God was integral with our founding fathers as part of the creation of the United States of America. If religious freedom is paramount then why is the phrase "One Nation Under God" undr attack?

Try to practice religious freedom in an predominantly Muslim country and see what happens. Tell it to these Christian medical workers' families who were killed for allegedly "preaching Christianity" in Afghanistan.

Philadelphia Demands Bloggers Purchase $300 License

In an obvious attemtp to stifle free speech the Philadelphia City Paper is reporting a city local blogger received a notice demanding she pay a $300 business privilege license due to her blog.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.

It would be one thing if Bess' website were, well, an actual business, or if the amount of money the city wanted didn't outpace her earnings six-fold. Sure, the city has its rules; and yes, cash-strapped cities can't very well ignore potential sources of income. But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.

When Bess pressed her case to officials with the city's now-closed tax amnesty program, she says, "I was told to hire an accountant."

She's not alone. After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made.

Even if, as with Sean Barry, that profit is $11 over two years.

With all the recent problems over their Philadelphia Housing Authority director facing foreclosure while receiving a $300,000 per year salary and staff that gets a 6 figure salary while paying subsidized rent of $654.00 per month one would think Philadephia City Council would focus on straigtening out its own mess first.

Don't forget the fiasco with their DROP Program. DROP, which stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan, lets employees pick a retirement date up to four years in the future. That decision freezes employees' pension benefits, but they start accumulating the payments immediately in an account that pays 4.5 percent interest while they continue working. When they retire, they get the amount in the account and start collecting their monthly pensions. Estimates state the program has cost Philadelphia $258 million over the last ten years.

I guess that is why they need $300.00 from bloggers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kanjorski's Clemens Dilemma

Paul Kanjorski refused to sign a letter recommending Joe Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Kanjorski praised such athletic and academic accomplishments in a statement that referred to Paterno as a "hero of Pennsylvania." Kanjorski even touted Paterno's ability to develop talent, referencing former West Scranton High School quarterback Matt McGloin, a former walk-on vying for the team's starting job this year.

But Kanjorski didn't sign the nomination letter, saying he wants to focus on work such as supporting the Education, Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which Kanjorski said will prevent 12,000 layoffs throughout the state. The measure passed the House on Tuesday.

"At this time, Congress should focus its efforts on creating jobs in our communities and reviving the economy rather than politicizing football," Kanjorski said.

I mean really how much time does it take to sign a letter, especially for a national icon?

It wasn't a problem for Kanjorski to take this photo opportunity with Roger Clemens who was indicted yesterday for making false statements to Congress about his steroid use. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson states in the interview that the charges against Clemens are very similar to those against Martha Stewart.

“There is no dilemma compared with that of the deep-sea diver who hears the message from the ship above, "Come up at once. We are sinking."”- Robert Cooper

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Did Politics Enter The Editorial Board Room?

In yesterday's Times Leader the headline read Philly raid linked to Hazleton dredge project. When you read the article outside of political donations to the target of the investigation there is nothing to support the wording of that headline.

Since the author doesn't make the headline what is afoot in the Times Leader editorial board room? Has the editorial board crossed a line and injected politics into the makeup of its headlines rather than accurately reporting what really triggered this F.B.I. raid?

In today's Philly.com article by Inquirer staff writers they point out that
A federal probe into campaign spending and two publicly funded nonprofits led Wednesday to raids on the offices of State Rep. William F. Keller (D., Phila.), the home of city Traffic Court Judge Robert Mulgrew, and the suburban office of a prominent political consultant.

The FBI and the IRS are looking at whether money from Keller's political action committee was used for noncampaign purposes, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

Authorities are also scrutinizing finances related to two nonprofits: the South Philadelphia Area Revitalization Corp. (SPARC), a taxpayer-funded nonprofit established by Keller, and Friends of Dickinson Square Community Development Corp., a nonprofit linked to Mulgrew before he was elected a judge, according to a source with direct knowledge of the investigation.

There is nothing in that article to even suggest the raid was remotely linked to the Hazleton dredge project. There should be a complete retraction of the headline.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eachus Arrogance Towards Taxpayers

Just today I received a flyer from Todd Eachus inviting me to a "Community Converstaton" with him. "As your state representative, I look forward to listnening to your concerns...." Talk about the most disingenous statement by a too long time legislator. Here is the REAL Todd Eachus.


In recent reports, Representative Eachus declined an interview when requested by the media. In a statement, Representative Eachus said, "Our personnel offices uses industrywide best practices and standards, much like any other public or private organization, for salaries, ranges and job classifications." However, Eachus went on to say, "Beyond that we don't discuss details of our personnel decisions."

Tarah Toohil, Candidate for State Representative in the 116th Legislative District, finds these type of responses to be unacceptable. "This is a classic example of Representative Eachus being out of touch with the people who elected him. The behavior of our legislature and its leaders is gluttonous and arrogant and the people of the 116th District and the people of Pennsylvania are demanding better."

Toohil stated, "When asked by the media, Eachus will not explain his policies. He refuses to be accountable. He refuses to be transparent even when the people and the media are demanding it. Even with the Bonusgate Grand Jury finding that our legislature is living in a 'time warp of public corruption', that it is one of the most bloated and excessive legislatures, and that it should be cut back to part-time in order to save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars... Representative Eachus refuses to change his ways and it is unacceptable."

Toohil argues that in light of the Bonusgate findings, details of personnel decisions such as salary raises, disparities among legislative staffs, and job descriptions and qualifications are going to be discussed. The public has a right to know exactly how its money is being spent and misspent.

John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News has a response.

For one thing, there's scant evidence beyond lip service that our "leaders" understand or empathize with the pain so many taxpayers feel from job loss, furloughs, frozen/reduced salaries and slashed benefits and pensions.

Rep. John Yudichak hits a home run with this statement.

Rep. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne County, says the Legislature "has to put more on the table," including long-hoarded leadership accounts, which he figures at about $200 million and calls "a padded reserve to buttress leaders."

HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER TODD EACHUS..do you think he is talking about you. Let me tell you about a concern...or better yet..let me play this video....

At one time you were proud to take Robert Powell's money. You have yet to return it....You took an illegal pay raise...yet to pay it back...Spend WAM money...does Tom Stish's campaign remind you of some statements.....Illegal midnight pay raises....ohhh yess... Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?

Barletta 52% Kanjorski 41% In New Poll

In a new poll conducted for the American Action Forum voters say the country is on the wrong track by a three to one margin. A majority of the voters canvassed in the districts included in the poll are against the health care reform plan by a 51 to 39 percent margin.

The 11th Congressional District race poll confirms a previous poll showing Barletta leading Kanjorski by a much wider margin than the last race.

Challenger Lou Barletta’s 93 percent name recognition is very similar to Rep. Paul Kanjorski’s 96 percent, and Barletta holds a 52 to 41 percent lead on the ballot.

A similar result was found for the GOP challenger Tom Marino in the 10th district against Chris Carney. He leads 52% to 37%.

So how did that "Hopey Changey" thing work out for Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and Kanjorski?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Joe Paterno And Kanjo's Retribution

Mainstream media reported on the issue that Lou Barletta raised with Paul Kanjorski's refusal to sign a nomination letter honoring Joe "PA" Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Joe Paterno's legacy isn't about football. Don't get mad yet.. Don't say McGruff is off base because this still isn't about baseball or football...

We must honor Joe "Pa" Paterno's benevolence, his commitment to Penn State University and to its programs. His tireless admiration, devotion, for the University and its mission. Joe Paterno didn't drive, he was driven by passion beyond explanation. Stars are the precursors of planets, Joe Paterno was the father to many in whom he instilled confidence, respect, determination, and, understanding.

Roll the television archives back to 2008 and a Fox News report by Gregg Jarrett over Kanjorski, his nephews, and Cornerstone Technologies.

In a startling interview, Joe Yudichak, who ran the non-profit Regional Equipment Center in Kanjorski's district, says the congressman initially tried to bully him into helping Kanjorski direct the money to Kanjorski's family members. In the documentary, Yudichak recounts his conversation with Kanjorski: "He said, 'You're telling me I can't take care of my family?' He said, 'Well, I'm telling you, it's gonna be done. And it's gonna be done with you or without you.' And he said, 'I'll bury you. I'll destroy you.'"

Kanjorski later earmarked more than $10 million directly to the company run by his family. The money was supposed to fund the development of new technologies to help turn around desperate coal towns and make them prosperous.

The company, Cornerstone Technologies, went bankrupt.

Harold Shobert, head of Pennsylvania State University's Energy Institute, and a leading expert on anthracite coal, worked with Cornerstone on one project. Shobert said "It was clear that these guys were clueless as to how to do research and development," "It was sort of like trying to collaborate with the cast of Looney Tunes."]

I submit to the public that it is Kanjorski who is playing politics by refusing to acknowledge Joe Paterno over Professor Shobert's remarks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eachus Has Help Wanted Ad Out

From John Micek's Mailbag:

PA House Majority Leader Todd Eachus seeks Field Director for 2010 re-election campaign.

For Todd Eachus's exclamation that he isn't worried about Tara Toohil he has opened a campaign office, conveniently next to his district office in Hazleton, and is going to put together a real campaign. Dang...

More on Today's Standard Speaker article:

Tara Toohil said Eachus' taxpayer-funded mailings that gauged residents' concerns for the "community conversations" were not necessary.

Toohil said Eachus could have knocked on doors to find that out instead of sending out the mailing to announce the meetings. Toohil also wanted to know how much was spent on the mailings.

Thomas said the mailings are directly related to constituent service and came from that fund. He said the mailings have no relationship to the upcoming election. Citing a series of meetings held last year, Thomas said, the mailings and meetings are "purely legislative" and meant to inform people.

Campaign "96 Update
Have You Seen Tom Stish? You probably have not seen him, but he has been consuming thousands and thousands of your tax dollars sending you annoying junk mail. "This is an outrage", "This certainly is an abuse of the office."---Todd Eachus March 1996

Eachus's Community Conversations- Soft Dollars?

Amanda Christman of the Standard Speaker reported on Todd Eachus's announcement of "Community Conversations" he is going to hold in his legislative district.

If you have a concern or question you've been wanting to ask a state legislator in person, now is your chance.

State Rep. Todd A. Eachus, D-116, will host three "community conversations" this month in different locations.

The first event will be held Wednesday at the Conyngham Borough Municipal Building, 215 Main St., from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Eachus said in a prepared statement the events will allow constituents to ask questions, express concerns and provide input regarding state and local issues. Eachus will also provide information on the state budget.

Community conversations will also be held Aug. 17, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Freeland Northside Community Ambulance Association, 417 Johnson St.; and Aug. 25, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Church Street Station Intermodal Facility, 126 Mine St., Hazleton.

Choosing the Intermodal Facility sight is laughable. Eachus refused to help Mayor Barletta secure funding for the building. But it gets better.

Tara Toohil, Republican candidate for the 116th district running against Eachus said Eachus' taxpayer-funded mailings that gauged residents' concerns for the "community conversations" were not necessary. People's concerns, she said, remain with government corruption, job availability and property taxes. Toohil said Eachus could have knocked on doors to find that out instead of sending out the mailing to announce the meetings. Toohil also wanted to know how much was spent on the mailings.

Thomas said the mailings are directly related to constituent service and came from that fund. He said the mailings have no relationship to the upcoming election. Citing a series of meetings held last year, Thomas said, the mailings and meetings are "purely legislative" and meant to inform people.

He said state legislature has rules to prevent taxpayer money fueled campaigning.

Evidently Bill Thomas missed this Grand Jury Testimony about Mr. Eachus.
Brad Bumsted reported on the testimony January 3, 2010.

In grand jury testimony, former aides identify him as aggressive and portray a politically ambitious lawmaker climbing the ladder in the House. He previously served as policy committee chairman and also chaired the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Former staffer John Paul Jones said he was brought onto Eachus' staff "solely" to do political work. He said he had a "beard assignment" that he was supposed to be working on "alternative energy" issues.

"But you didn't study alternative energy?" a prosecutor asked him. "No," Jones told the grand jury.

Jones testified that Eachus wanted to spend "soft dollars" through state-paid public service announcements so the campaigns would spend less of their resources.

There were occasions, Jones testified, where he and another aide were called in to provide staff support so Eachus could make fundraising calls in his office.

Hmmmm..Mr. Thomas would you like to revisit your quote?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tim Hawkins- Old Rock Star Songs

Some musicians are one hit wonders. But others just seem to linger. And there's something odd about a geriatric rock star. I could never put my finger on it. But comedian Tim Hawkins hits the nail on the head. This is hilarious.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skrepenak Sentenced - 24 MONTHS AND $5000 FINE

His leniency plea rejected, Greg Skrepenak former NFLK Star and Luzerene County Commissioner was sentenced to 24 months and $5000 in fines according to the Times Leader.

U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy acknowledged Skrepenak's charitable work and the impact the sentence would have on his family, but said he believed a period of incarceration was necessary due to the egregiousness of Skrepenak's crime.

"Your conduct has left a very bad blemish on all public servants in (Luzerne) County," Conaboy said. "It's the worst kind of violation of trust."

According to an Insider Club email from WILK listeners were informed that The plea agreement with the government actually describes the offense as having consisted of more than one payment with a total value between $30,000 and $70,000.

"Don't say a word or I'll knock you (expletive) head off," the senior Skrepenak said to WILK radio host Steve Corbett, who was in courtroom for sentencing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coxe Memorial Ran Into Problems

Representative Todd Eachus was honored by the board of the Freeland Senior Citizens Center with naming rights to their rebuilt complex. As I posted yesterday the building that was destroyed by fire previously was known as the "Daniel M. Coxe Memorial Senior Citizens Center" building.

In this article from September 9, 2009 Tom Ragan writes about the struggle one Freeland woman encountered when she tried to get a memorial erected honoring the Coxes for their benevolence to the area.

Joan Uricheck had hoped to collect enough money to place a memorial stone to honor Eckley and Sophia Coxe, the coal-mining moguls who donated the land that the Freeland Public Park sits on.

Uricheck, who lives on Front Street near the park, helped convince some members of Freeland Borough Council to vote down an attempt to turn a portion of the public park into a parking lot.

She then turned her attention to collecting donations for a memorial to remember a coal magnate and his wife for their generous contributions to the Borough of Freeland.

However, after a meeting this week with Freeland Borough Manager Lynn Falatko, she learned that she'll need approval from borough council and the Freeland Recreation Board.

Falatko suggested she write a letter to the recreation board outlining her plan to collect donations because the board has completed a number of projects at the park over the years. The board might be interested in getting involved with such a project, Falatko suggested.

"I think it's only right to make them aware of it in case they would like to get involved," she said.

Approval from Freeland council is necessary because the park is borough property.

Falatko made it clear that the borough would not accept donations from a fund drive that isn't sanctioned by council.

"It doesn't mean that Freeland or MMI (Preparatory School) or any other organization wouldn't be interested in supporting a donation drive for a memorial in the park," she said. "It just means more people might want to have input in such a project and become involved in helping toward raising the necessary funds."

The Coxe project finally came to fruition in June of this year.

Its a shame Eachus didn't encounter such resistance when it came to changing the name of the Freeland Senior Citizens Center from the Daniel M. Coxe designation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eachus Slammed Over Name Game

The Daniel Coxe Memorial School was opened in 1896. The school is now gone, and in its place is a Senior Center.

The editorial staff at the Times Leader wrote a stinging Opinion column faulting Todd Eachus for accepting a name honoraium for the Freeland Senior Citizens Center.

On January 3,2005 fire struck the Daniel M. Coxe Memorial Senior Citizens Center located at 701 Chestnut Street in Freeland. It destroyed the building. The center was rebuilt but the Daniel M. Coxe name was removed and replaced with Todd Eachus's name.

Daniel M. Coxe was an Estate Agent for the Coxe heirs and the Coxe Estate lands according to this document from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It goes on to describe the files located at the society.

The General Estate File spans a broad subject area, but has a particular emphasis on the usage of estate lands through a variety of sales, leases, deeds and permits. An inside look into the various business associations of the estate can be seen through large sections of correspondence dealing with the Jeddo-Highland Coal Company, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and numerous other regional contractors. Information pertaining to the estate’s relationship with the surrounding communities of Hazleton and Drifton is included among a wealth of material associated with the region’s social and economic development. The arrangement of this section adheres to its original filing system while in the estate’s Drifton office.

As you can see the Coxes were instrumental in the social and economic development of the Greater Hazleton Region. Sophia Coxe was known as the "Angel of the Anthracite Coal Region".

Subseries 3. Sophia Coxe Christmas Festival, 1884-1898 (Boxes 565-566)
Sophia Coxe, wife of Eckley B. Coxe, was known as the “Angel of the Anthracite Coal Fields”. She acquired this nickname through her countless acts of charity for the people of the Lehigh Field. Sophia was a benefactor of numerous institutions and established several charitable trust funds, which continue to support institutions such as the MMI Preparatory School and Lehigh University into the twenty-first century.
Sophia also hosted annual celebrations in Drifton on the 4th of July and Christmas Eve, the latter of which is documented in the papers of this subseries. Between 1877- 1925, Sophia played Santa Claus to 2,000-4,000 children of the region. With the assistance of her personal secretary, she would buy an assortment of presents and candy, and create extensive gift-distribution lists so that the children would not receive the same present each year. Similar gifts were given to the children of St. James Episcopal Sunday School, the Children’s Seashore Home in Atlantic City, as well as the residents of the Almshouse of the Middle Coal Field and patients of the State Hospital in Hazleton.

The Sophia G. Coxe Charitable Trust Fund exists until this day benefiting many of the less fortunate in Southern Luzerne County including Freeland.

The board of directors of the Freeland Senior Citizens Center took away the Daniel M. Coxe designation and renamed the center the Todd Eachus Senior Citizens Center. Shame on them. Mr. Eachus didn't do anything extraordinary to earn that naming right. If the board believes that the only thing standing between them and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth's money was Todd Eachus then they are sadly mistaken. Their project was worthy on its own merits. As the editorial aptly points out the board isn't the only one to blame.

Mr. Eachus had a morale duty to turn down the naming of the building after him. But this issue wasn't about what is right. It is about ego, plain and simple. Unlike Tara Toohil, Mr. Eachus wasn't raised in this area. He didn't help with its economic expansion. As a matter of fact his actions as an elected official have prevented expansion.

The editorial states it best.

Our beef, of course, isn’t with any single lawmaker or the appreciative recipients of government grant money.

Rather, our concern is what this name game, as highlighted in staff writer Andrew Seder’s articles Sunday, says about the culture in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Aren’t the schools, colleges, arts organizations and other institutions that affix living politicians’ names to their buildings simply trying to curry favor – and potentially get closer to the front of the line for future handouts? Aren’t they bothered by kowtowing and being beholden – or at least perceived to be – to a “powerful” person?

And for incumbent lawmakers, don’t those plaques, marquees and prominent signs equate to free campaign advertising? (Banks, casinos and other companies pay beaucoup bucks for naming rights to this area’s most popular destinations; it’s called marketing. Why do some lawmakers get similar treatment for free?)

Shouldn’t the sites – paid for, at least in part, with the taxpayers’ money – more aptly be named the Citizens’ Center, the People’s Plaza or Taxpayers’ Theater?

We find the name game almost as disingenuous and distasteful as when elected officials show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and project openings to be photographed with those big cardboard checks (aka your tax dollars).

Boards of directors should be more discriminating when choosing names for their buildings.

In this article that appeared in the Standard Speaker on November 22, 2009 there was praise all the way around for help by the Freeland Senior Citizens organization in their time of need.

And while McClellan and the seniors all felt a sense of joy being in their "new-old" home, she also reflected on the immense help St. Michael's offered the organization during the group's stay there.

"We really appreciated them taking us in and everything else they did for us. They took us in on the spur of the moment. We were able to open up there a week after the fire happened at our old place. In fact, the fire happened on a Monday night, and by that next Monday we were set up with a contract so we got back to work," McClellan said.

She also thanked Freeland Mayor Tim Martin, who she added never shies away when the center is in need.

"Mayor Martin has always been very helpful. Anytime we ever needed anything, he helped us and was right there. He's been so great and we really appreciate him, too."

It was a collaborative effort that kept the Freeland Senior Citizens Center going as a viable operation. Todd Eachus should do the right thing and ask that his name be removed and the Daniel M. Coxe name be restored. I believe that article mentioned St. Michael's not Saint Todd. For Eachus to usurp so much history behind the Daniel M. Coxe name is loathsome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tara Toohil Thinks State Government Is "Broken"

Standard Speaker veteran reporter Mia Light informs her readers about election issues Tarah Toohil feels are the important points of her campaign for State Representative in the 116th district.

"I think the government is broken. I think it has gone so far afield from the way that government was intended to be," Toohil said during a meeting with the Standard-Speaker editorial board recently.

"(The issue of) property taxes is huge."

"People are still so upset about the gambling money. People remember that last year's state budget hinged on that gambling money and senior citizens remember that they were supposed to get a tax break with that money."

She is in favor of term limits. And she believes fiscal responsibility begins with trimming a lot of the government's own fat.

"Government was supposed to have representatives that are just like everyone else in the community. They weren't supposed to be career politicians."

"The legislature we have now, they're always serving themselves with perks and per diems that are out of control to the point of becoming like an additional salary. That's the biggest problem with the legislature. Rather than being an honor and a privilege to serve their community, they feel we should pay them with excessive perks and pensions."

She believes elected officials should liken themselves to the British House of Commons. "The House of Representatives was supposed to be like in the British Parliamentary System, the House of Commons."

Most people aren't familiar with the British system but here are some highlights. Click on this link to see the expense reporting requirements for Members of Parliament(MPs).

Members of Parliament ARE REQUIRED to list ALL their expenses unlike PA legislators and they are published on a free website for public review. Travel costs, stationery and postage costs, details of catering functions and events hosted by Members, repayments made against all claim types, and net totals, reflecting the repayments made against the original claims are searchable on the net for the public's curiosity and right to know. THERE ARE NO PER DIEMS.

In June 2009 more than a million documents and receipts were published online. These related to MPs' claims dating back to 2004/05 and up to 2007/08.

In December 2009 these pages were updated to include information about MPs' claims for costs incurred when staying away from their main home in 2008/09 and the first quarter of 2009/10.

Parliament publishes
"The Green Book" which serves as a guide to MP allowances. Pennsylvania legislators have a $10,000 no receipt expense account, free health care, fully paid vision and dental coverage, free prescriptions, fully paid life insurance and long-term care insurance, and the 50% increase in pension benefits the legislators awarded themselves nine years ago.

In order to see what expenses are reimbursed to Pennsylvania legislators you must submit a right to know request. In Britain all you have to do is boot up your computer and have at it.

If Pennsylvania legislators were truly interested in reform quick adoption of this reporting system would be a start.

One other piece of information. In 2009 Members of Parliament were paid the equivalent of $103,918.00(The current annual salary for an MP is £65,738). Keep in mind that is to run a country. They must account for all of the public funds they spend.

Todd Eachus's salary is over $115,000 and Paul Kanjorski's salary is $175,000 plus. Why voters keep returning them to office is beyond me.

The Bottom Line on Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich: “I don’t think this president will control spending. I don’t think the democrats in the House and Senate will control spending. So they want the right to run up the biggest credit card in history, more than any teenager in America, and then turn around and tell the rest of us we have to pay for their credit card,”

Sunday, August 1, 2010

General Dynamics- Tax Free Scranton Site Comes With Earmarks Too!

Today's Times Tribune features a news analysis article by Josh Mrozinski detailing that 1,204 properties in Scranton out of 27.037 enjoy tax-exempt status. One of those properties houses General Dynamics, a self described, market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technologies. The Scranton facility is listed as a "Land Systems" plant.

Between 2006 and 2009, mammoth defense contractor General Dynamics secured more than $380 million in government contracts for its nearly 700,000-square-foot facility on South Washington Avenue in Scranton.

With an assessed value of more than $5.5 million, the former Chamberlain Corp. property would generate nearly $694,000 annually in taxes for the city, or about $2.7 million over four years. Lackawanna County and the Scranton School District would annually receive about $220,882 and $603,529, respectively.

The Virginia-based multibillion-dollar contractor pays no property taxes on its Scranton facility, however, because the land is owned by the federal government, rendering it tax-exempt. It also does not pay the city's mercantile tax, which exempts manufacturers. General Dynamics is also exempt from paying sales tax, because it makes products for the federal government.

Aside from being off the tax rolls, the facility, which employs 349 people, has cost the city in additional services, including heightened police protection after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mayor Chris Doherty said. The mayor said he plans to approach the company about making payments in lieu of taxes, a longstanding issue in the city that was thrust back into the headlines by city council's recent clash with the University of Scranton over an easement needed for a $33 million dormitory project in the 900 block of Mulberry Street.

The university withdrew its request for the easement after council made approval contingent upon the school increasing its payment in lieu of taxes. The university raised its voluntary payment nearly 60 percent to $175,000 a year, far short of council's demand of $1 million over four years.

Council President Janet Evans and the lawmakers' solicitor, Boyd Hughes, did not return phone calls for comment. The council majority previously has said that it intends to seek payments in lieu of taxes from the city's tax-exempt organizations. Scranton School Board member Chris Phillips said the school district does not receive payments in lieu of taxes from any tax-exempt organization.

General Dynamics' position as a for-profit company operating on a tax-exempt property highlights the complexities of local property taxation and exemptions in Scranton. It also is part of a system in which regulations and limited resources hamper local authorities in their oversight of tax-exempt properties.

Mrzonski penned another article pointing out new legislation introduced in Harrisburg to address some of the concerns of municipalities with tax-exempt properties.

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-136, Easton, has authored HB 2018 - known as the Tax Exempt Property Municipal Assistance Fund.

The bill would direct state liquor tax revenue to a fund for municipalties to offset revenue lost on tax-exempt properties.

The measure is a "very reasonable use of the money" because the tax is no longer used for its original purpose, rebuilding Johnstown after disastrous flooding in 1889, Mr. Freeman said. He plans to reintroduce the bill in the next session.

The Senate Finance Committee is also considering a measure that would amend the state Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act. The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-42, Brookline, would allow local governments to levy an "essential services fee" annually on exempt property claimed by a purely public charity. The fee can't exceed $100 per every 1,000 square feet under the legislation.

Yesterday I wrote about Paul Kanjorski and the earmark he secured for SCHOTT North America despite the fact the company settled an EEOC complaint of sexual discrimination for $1.45 million last year.

A look at the same report from OpenSecrets.org shows that General Dynamics was a beneficiary of a 2.8 million earmark supplied by Paul Kanjorski for fiscal year 2010. For fiscal year 2009 there is a $1.92 million earmark to General Dynamics as well as $3.2 million for 2008.

While the property housing General Dynamics, a for profit company, enjoys tax free status the City of Scranton remains under Act 47 since 1992 losing out on millions in lost tax revenue. Taxpayers have funneled $380 million in government contracts to General Dynamics at the same time.

I am sure Kanjorski's district isn't the only one with this issue but he surely can't be blind to it either. I hear alot of chatter about KOZ but isn't this a similar situation?

Under Freeman's proposal General Dynamics would have paid $2.1 million to the City of Scranton while it earned $380 million in government contracts. Not a bad trade off. I am sure the Firefighter's Union which hasn't had a pay raise in years would benefit from such a requirement.