Monday, January 24, 2011

Pennsylvania Supreme Court- Out To Touch With Reality

The American Bar Association printed an article penned by Debra Cassens Weiss about the perks Chief Justice Ronald Castille receives while occupying his office.

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille drives a 2010 Cadillac, but he's not paying the lease costs. He has attended dinners, golf outings and a social meeting at a luxury hotel, but he's not picking up the tab.

The state pays for the Cadillac lease, a perk provided to state appeals judges, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Twenty-five judges lease taxpayer-financed cars, including Justice Max Baer of Mt. Lebanon. Baer drives a 2010 GMC Acadia he leases at government cost from his brother's Washington dealership, the story says. Thirteen judges don’t participate in the program.

Meanwhile some of Castille’s dinners and outings are paid for by lawyers and business people, including some with cases before the court, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this month. Last December, he attended a meeting of the Pennsylvania Society, a state booster club, at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria. The law firm Saul Ewing paid the $1,900 tab for the hotel room and dinners, just as it had done the previous two years.
Since 2007 the firm was involved in around 20 cases before the state Supreme Court.

A New York Times editorial criticizes the state ethics rules that allow Castille and other appeals judges to accept gifts as long as they disclose them. The state supreme court has ruled that it alone has the authority to set the ethics rules; almost no other state has rules that would allow the gifts.

Similarly, the state auditor general can’t audit the judiciary budget. “Appellate judges spend what they want, with little accountability,” the Tribune-Review says, quoting the opinion of Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz.

Castille said in a May interview that he accepts rounds of golf as gifts from friends at golf courses he could never afford, but did not give the Inquirer an interview for its November story. Saul Ewing lawyer Timothy Carson told the Inquirer the firm financed Castille’s New York trip because the justice should have a chance to interact with other state leaders.

Leo Strupczewski of the Legal Intelligencer writes this article about the precipitous drop in work output by Pennsylvania's highest tribunal

The state Supreme Court had one of its least productive years in recent memory in 2010, issuing far fewer opinions and hearing fewer cases than it had in the last decade.

Normally one to hear about 100 cases and issue authored opinions in another 150, the high court fell short of both traditional performance marks in 2010.

And it didn't come very close, either.

According to a review by The Legal , the justices authored just 67 published opinions in 2010 — a figure that represents a nearly 50 percent reduction in output over the year before. Similarly, the court scheduled just 79 cases for oral arguments last year — less than the 90 it scheduled in 2009 and the 125 it scheduled in 2008.

Though several individuals The Legal spoke with said it's better for the court to take its time when deciding confusing and complicated areas of law, 2010's low figures don't appear to be a result of the court becoming more judicious over what cases it takes or the court becoming more efficient in its work.

The justices, for example, granted allocatur in 497 cases from 2006 through 2010. And at the end of 2009, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, there were 280 "pending appeals" before the court.

Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille did not respond to an interview request for this story. Jim Koval, a spokesman for the judiciary, said at the time of that request that Castille would want to see the court's statistics before discussing workload.

Hank Grezlak of the Legal Intellingencer authored a great editorial, Pa. High Court Needs to Cure Its Black Robe Disease, about the Supreme Court which can be found here.

One wonders how the mess in the Luzerne County Courthouse started. Well, from reading these articles it appears it may have started with the lack of accountability at the top. Castille said he accepted the rounds of golf he could never afford. Castille's salary, not including benefits and pension contributions paid for by you and me, last year was $191,876.00. I guess that is a measely salary to be able to afford a $200.00 round of golf.

Oh, did I mention that he gets pensions from his service in the Marines as well as his stint with the Philadelphia District Attorney's office. Poor, poor, Ron.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

MinSec's Approval Process In Hazleton Part 2

MinSec's location, Altamont Building, Downtown Hazleton

The last post on MinSec dealt with its application before the Zoning Hearing Board at its meeting of October 18,2007.

Continuing with the testimony offered at the hearing Attorney Giuliani, representing MinSec, called Edward Pane, President and Chief Executive Officer of Serento Gardens, to testify. During his testimony found on page 20 of the transcript Mr. Pane opined about MinSec's operation.

Basically, this is an extension of what we have benn doing. It is a highly complemetary relationship. We're really kind of in business (that) vertically integrates building into a place where there's an outpatient center, an inpatient center.

Mr. Jonathan Wasp, facility director of MinSec's Scranton operation , was called back to testify. He stated found on page 25:

You know, the licensure we have through the Department of Health in our Scranton location, which will also be the same license that we'll be pursuing here, makes us a non-hospital inpatient drug treatment program.

However, on page 23, Mr. Wasp offered this testimony on the percentage of serious incidents that could be expected as a result of the approval and establishing a resident population in the Altamont.

So yeah,, I would say the incidents are relatively low. And it really depends on the structure of the program. I would encourage you, I would encourage the community to become familiar with our handbook. It's public information. It's available through the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website. See how our program runs...

Back to Attorney Giuliani's questioning found on page 29 to Mr. Pane.

Mr. Giuliani: I just want to ask Mr. Pane something because this is what he told me. The basic difference, Mr. Pane, between what MinSec wants to do and what you're doing is that they're inpatient and you're outpatient?

Mr. Pane: That's correct.

Mr. Giuliano: There's no other difference, right?

Mr. Pane: That's correct.

On page 31 of the testimony Attorney Giuliani makes this statement.

What I'm saying is if there's a question as to whether you have the authority to do-- I mean, it's already been given to add for a whole floor and the only--- that's my point, the only difference between what they're suggesting and what Ed is doing is that one is residential and the other is not.

Onto page 32.

Mr. Giuliani: I just want to repeat something. The people who are buying it are also the peoplw who are making-- who are talking to MinSec, which is important. Mr. Amiano is goint to sell it to him, and then I would imagine that if you're going to do anything else differently than what they're asking for the second, third -- or fourth and fifth floor, they'd have to come here to do that as a use.

Mr. Paletski, Vice Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazleton City asks a question found on page 39 and 40. Jonathan Wasp answers the question.

Mr. PALESTSKI: One question. I'm looking at the article from the Times Tribune here and it says, Man was part of minimal security prisoner form the MinSec housing center. Are these residents minimum security prisoners or have they released?

Mr. WASP: In the same way that you were misquoted in today's paper, so was he, apparently. I think people make the logical extension that MinSec is -- the first three letters are MIN, the first three letters of security, and they say must be a minimum security prison.

As I said, we take parole cases. We take self-paid patients. We take individuals who were referred to us by single county authorities in other locations, federal cases. So, no. I wouldn't say it's limited to prisoners, but we're taking somebody who simply can't afford it....

Let's take a look at a Standard Speaker article from February 12, 2010.

Questions persist about Hazleton halfway house
By Kelly Monitz (Staff Writer)

Members of the chamber's Downtown Committee recently met with MinSec's Jonathon Wasp, vice president of treatment services, and Doug Albertson, facility director, to learn more about the facility in the former Altamont Hotel, chamber President Donna Palermo said.

However, they were left with more questions than answers, she said.

"We thought it was a halfway house," she said. "Jonathon Wasp from MinSec stated that it was a minimum security prison. ...That is how they came by their name, MinSec.

"I think everyone is confused on what it really is," Palermo said.

The facility, which is contracted by the state Department of Corrections to provide community corrections services, has operated for about two years, expanding from two floors in the historic structure to five floors in the past year.

Back to the testimony.

Mr. PALETSKI: So some may be work release prisoners, some may be--

Mr. WASP: Well, we have some that are probation and parole--

and page 41

Mr. GIULIANI: And I suggest that this is a use that has already been used in that building.

Finally, the board convenes an executive session with is reconvened at 8:48 P.M. found on page 45.

Mr. SCHADDER: Next application is that of MinSec Companies, LLC, requesting a use variance for an operation of a residential skilled development transitional living treatment program to be located at 145 West Broad Street, a CZ Zone.

I'd like to make this contingent upon fire, health and safety codes as well as local, state, and federal licensing requirements. I'd like to make a motion to approve.

MinSec's handbook referred to in testimony is found here. From its Welcome:

Welcome to MinSec Hazelton Treatment Center

This facility, in many ways, will represent the hardest part of the correctional process for you.

One lingering question hangs like a blanket of clouds building before a thunderstorm casting gray and black shadows. Since the Department of Corrections labels MinSec as a Community Corrections Center is that the same thing as a "residential skilled development transitional living treatment program"? Does a CZ zone allow the placement of a community corrections center in it? Does Hazleton code have a licensing mechanism for a community corrections center or facility?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

MinSec- A Tale Of Misdirection For Approval?

Application ZA-116-07- MinSec Companies, LLC requesting a use variance for the operation of a residential skilled development transitional living treatment program located at 145 West Broad Street, the Altamont Building, a CZ Zone

That statement comes from the transcript of the proceedings before the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazleton City on October 18, 2007. Hold onto that thought as you read this post. There are many who blamed former Mayor Lou Barletta for the placement of MinSec in downtown Hazleton. Let's see what the record states. Let's see what the press left out in its coverage of the approval process because of the obvious bias present at the Standard Speaker against Lou Barletta and now Mayor Joe Yannuzzi.

Attorney Henry Giuliani represented MinSec before the Zoning Hearing Board at these proceedings. He called several witnesses including Ed Pane, President and Chief Executive Officer of Serento Gardens, Jonathan Wasp, Vice President of Treatment Services MinSec, and Anthony Amiano, owner of The Altamont who was leasing the building to Visionary Companies, LLC on behalf of MinSec, LLC.

Mr. Wasp was called to testify and his testimony starts on page 6 of the transcript. He states he is "a facility director of a treatment program in Scranton, MinSec Scranton." "I currently serve as the facility director, so I do the administrative oversight and problematic considerations for our Scranton location. He states he will be the facility director, at least temporarily in Hazleton.

Q. Would you describe the mission of MinSec?

A. We provide transition living programs for adult males. Each of our programs are a little bit different. The programs we operate in Philadelphia, some of them operate with federal contracts, some with state contracts, some with county contracts. Our Scranton program operates entirely on state contracts. And at this point our consideration for Hazleton would be state contracts here as well.

Q. And what kind of referrals do you get?

A. We take adult males. The residents who are referred to our program have a number of issues that we do assessments on. The consideration we're giving at this time is for an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program.

Q. How many beds would there be in the Hazleton project?

A. At this point in time we're looking at two floors, floors 4 and 5. So we currently at this point we've considered 50, 25 per floor.

Q. How many employees would there be?

A. Because we're regulated by the Department of Health which as an entity that's solely responsible for this type of program, drug and alcohol programs
...and he goes on to explain staffing..

MinSec's main purpose is not a "drug and alcohol treatment program" according to its own website.

MinSec is a leading provider of private community correctional centers.

MinSec's primary correctinal focus and expertise: Developing and operating community correctional facilities.

Jack Sommers is the Director of the Bureaus of Community Corrections within the Department of Corrections.

This bureau is responsible for residential facilities located in various Pennsylvania communities. These facilities, also known as half-way houses, provide a transitional process by allowing residents monitored contact with jobs and educational opportunities. The facilities house inmates in prerelease status and inmates granted parole by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. The department also contracts with private vendors to provide specialized treatment and supervision service, many in the area of substance abuse programming.

This document from the Department of Corrections was issued September 17, 2008. Policy Subject: Community Corrections Centers

This policy is applicable to all facilities operated under the jurisdiction of, or conducting business with the Department of Corrections.


It is the policy of the Department to provide housing and transitional services to residents of Community Corrections Centers and Community Contract Facilities until such time that a resident is released."

Section 21 – Specialized Community Corrections Centers

A. Location

The Specialized Community Corrections Centers (CCCs) are as follows:

1. Region 1 – Kintock-Erie;

2. Region 2 – Harrisburg CCC and Minsec of Hazelton; and

3. Region 3 – Renewal Inc. and Erie CCC.

B. Inmate Accountability and Daily Operations

An inmate paroled to a designated Specialized CCC will be subject to a morestructured/controlled daily routine.

I ask you to draw your own conclusions from the testimony and the information provided whether the testimony offered before the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazleton City was accurate and precise or general and misdirection. Is MinSec under the auspices of the Department of Corrections or the Department of Health? Are the services they provide part of a community correctional facility or a health services facility?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Healthcare Law Clears House Hurdle On Repeal

Honoring a campaign pledge the Republican controlled Congress wasted no time in repealing the outrageous healthcare bill railroaded through Congress by the Democrats last year.

I listened to Congressmen/women speak yesterday for and against the bill. One central theme emerged from the opposition. The Democrats stated the bill would create jobs. They failed to mention it would be 16,000 IRS agent jobs. More government jobs means more taxation, plain and simple.

Governor Tom Corbett's Inauguration Speech

HARRISBURG — The text of Tom Corbett’s speech at his inauguration as Pennsylvania’s 46th governor:

Chief Justice Castille; Governor Rendell, Judge Rendell; members of the judiciary; leaders and members of the General Assembly; members of Congress; my fellow Pennsylvanians: today we celebrate a long, proud, and sustaining tradition of democracy.

Over three hundred years ago, a free society took root here in Penn’s woods. The leaders of those times were uneasy with a government more prone to political favor than fairness to the people. They were deeply troubled by government exploitation and excess and through the course of human events, envisioned the potential for a new government – a new ideal – based in unalienable rights and power derived from the consent of the people.

That debate conducted by our forefathers, beginning with William Penn and carried through the 13 colonies to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, was not without moments of rancor or sacrifice. But those noble leaders stood true to the belief that civility stands at the core of fair and peaceful governance.

As we open this new chapter in Pennsylvania’s history, let us also step forward firmly dedicated to a civil discourse. Let us not confuse acrimony with passion or partisanship with principle. Rather, let us take this opportunity to begin a new kind of debate – one that honors our shared history and unites us as citizens in common purpose. In doing so, I have great faith that we will unleash a new common prosperity to benefit all Pennsylvanians.

I would like to take this moment to recognize Pennsylvania’s new First Lady, my wife, Sue. She is my partner, my rock, my everything. Her love of culture and history has always inspired me and I know she will be an inspiration for all Pennsylvanians.

It is fitting that I assume the office of governor pledging my oath on William Penn’s bible. As governor, I will lead each day grounded in the truth of Penn’s first charted liberties and mindful of the role we have in democracy’s endurance. I will honor your trust by standing firm in my guiding principle to do the right things, for the right reasons, even in the most challenging of times. And I will dedicate each and every day over the next four years to fiscal discipline and a responsible, limited government.

The chill that we feel today isn’t solely January’s wind. We gather during uncertain times and no one has been left untouched. Pennsylvania is known for hard workers, but today they must search too hard for work. Small businesses can’t hire. Large employers can’t invest. Government has spent beyond its means and individual corrupt acts have eroded an essential element of leadership – the public’s trust.

As we turn this new page in history, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley and I seek to chart a new course for Pennsylvania. Together, we are dedicated to leadership that is responsive to fiscal realities; leadership that takes on financial burdens, rather than passing those burdens on to the next generation; and leadership that can see beyond today’s turbulence and into tomorrow’s tranquility.

For some, the impasse between political considerations and economic realities is too difficult. For some, the deadlock between the current size of government and the size our government should be is too daunting. I disagree.

I have had the privilege to see and experience all that is special about Pennsylvania. Our land is rich in resources. Our industry is rooted in innovation. And our people – our people are extraordinary in their diversity and determination. As they work to make a living and raise their families – our people are exceptional in their dignity.

Our Commonwealth has been built by exceptional people, with exceptional ideas. William Penn ventured into uncharted lands to fulfill his dream of a great “Holy Experiment.” Ben Franklin struggled to define a young country’s foundation. And countless men and women, honored in Soldier’s Grove, just behind you, demonstrated exceptional courage as citizen soldiers protecting those freedoms.

Today, Pennsylvania’s tradition of character and courage carries on in the single mother who works an extra job so she can send her children to a better school; in the researchers who have taken a nugget of an idea and turned it into viable nanotechnology; and in the third generation farmer who is as committed to the environmental integrity of his land as he is to keeping the family farm going.

Our people – our fellow Pennsylvanians – make this an exceptional state. Today I call upon everyone in state government to summon all of the will and talent within you to advance the promise of our Commonwealth and to perform exceptionally for all Pennsylvanians.

This will require creativity and courage, and be assured that where there is creativity and courage we will navigate the pending storms.

It will take courage, it will take courage to pursue government and legislative reform. As individuals, there are moments that require quiet contemplation; an intimate “step home within ourselves” to carry us to our ultimate destination. Today is our moment to assess our state government and choose a course that will renew the founding principles of democracy’s covenant.

In that reflection, I believe the only conclusion is the one the people expressed last November. We must act to renew the people’s trust in government. We must restore transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline. But we will move forward with government and legislative reform because, without it, there is no good government.

We need good government. The people now demand it. And they deserve it. We will lead the way toward a government that understands that, just as families have found a way to live within their means, it too must budget in a way that is responsible and honest, a government that has the courage to find fiscal strength in restraint, a government that shows compassion for those most in need and recognizes its citizens’ great investment, a government that must yield them a hopeful, realistic return.

To those who create jobs and to those who raise our future workers: you deserve a government that will not ask more of its citizens until it asks more of itself. I will not shrink from such a challenge; nor will I ignore the opportunities to set Pennsylvania on its new course, a new course where financial security leads us to prosperity and greatness.

You will never hear me say “impossible.” To say it, or worse, to believe it, would accomplish nothing. I see the possible. And in the possible I see a promising future for Pennsylvania.

I see a promising future; one that breathes new life into our existing economies such as agriculture and manufacturing. I see a future that embraces innovation in emerging frontiers of energy, life sciences and biotechnology. I see a future that sets free the kind of creativity and competition that will make Pennsylvania the envy of our nation.

I believe in Pennsylvania and I believe in Pennsylvanians. And in those beliefs is a certainty that the best way to embrace innovation – the best way to make us competitive – is to make us competitive in education. Today, our students compete not only with those from the other 49 states, but with students from around the world. Our education system must contend with other nations and so we must embrace innovation, competition and choice in our education system.

All of this will take time. The challenges we face were not created overnight, nor will they be solved in a 24-hour news cycle or an arbitrarily conceived deadline. It is more important to lead with decisive action that is accurate and precise. This is a generational moment. Our children’s grandchildren deserve our focused attention on doing only what is right to bring about this generational change.

I am confident. I am confident because as we work to steady our Commonwealth with patience and perseverance, our courage will be no less than what Pennsylvanians have already done in summoning their own best from within.

There is no more noble example of Pennsylvania’s inner strength, than the generations of courage commemorated just across the way in Soldier’s Grove. Last week, I walked among the trees and plaques that honor the men and women whose personal sacrifice have timelessly protected our freedoms. They were ordinary people serving in extraordinary times. They demonstrated their commitment during the harsh winter at Valley Forge, their courage in the bloody fields of Gettysburg, and their valor on the beachheads of Normandy. Their heroism in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq humbles us. And today, I ask that we honor all those who continue to “hang tough” in Afghanistan.

“Wars do not make people great, but sometimes they bring out the greatness in good people.” Such was the wisdom of the beloved Pennsylvania patriot Major Richard “Dick” Winters. His recent passing is a loss not only for Pennsylvania, but our entire nation. Major Winter’s valor behind enemy lines in France was immortalized by the Band of Brothers, but I believe that what makes us look to him as a leader and true hero was his courage, his earnest humility, his private determination and the warm respect he showed and fostered among his men. Over the Capitol today, we fly a flag given to Major Winters by fellow soldiers in honor of the legacy he leaves and a reminder to all of us.

Let us honor Major Winters, and all those who have served by calling upon the best within ourselves. Let us dare to do great things, by daring to do what is right day by day. And let our legacy reflect all that is exceptional about Pennsylvania.

In doing so, we will find a true common wealth that allows this generation and future generations to dream with credible hope.

Join me. With God’s protective guidance we will lead with clear minds, full hearts, and eyes set toward new generations of Pennsylvania’s true and sustaining greatness.

May God bless you. May God bless our Commonwealth and may God bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Congressman Barletta On Healthcare Repeal

Why Does The Horseracing Industry In Pennsylvania Receive 12% of Gambling Revenues?

When gambling was approved as a means for raising revenue in Pennsylvania the horse racing industry received a huge break. The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund was created under the law to subsidize the breeding program of race horses in Pennsylvania. Read this article that appeared in the Reading Eagle.

Breeding thoroughbreds is, of course, nothing new in Pennsylvania.

But under a state-subsidized breeding program, infused with millions of dollars from Pennsylvania's casino revenues, the Broks get to share in the winnings of the horses they breed.

If any horse they breed finishes in the money - that is, wins, places or shows - at a Pennsylvania track, the Broks get a bonus from a pool of state money called the Pennsylvania Horse Race Development Fund.

So far this year, the Broks have received about $40,000 from the fund.

"Slots have benefited my business tremendously," Glen Brok said. "They've created a great atmosphere for breeding horses in Pennsylvania."

It's no accident that breeders such as the Broks find themselves in the winners circle.

The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, the legislation that legalized the state's 14 slots-only casinos, was aimed at reinvigorating the state's sagging horse racing industry.

Purses at Pennsylvania tracks were low, and Pennsylvania-bred horses were being overshadowed by those raised in New York, Kentucky and Florida.

That's all changed because of tax revenue from the slots.

Under the gaming law, 12 percent of gross casino revenues goes to an array of programs that underwrite various aspects of thoroughbred and harness racing in Pennsylvania.

Since the first casino opened in November 2006, slots revenues have pumped $295.3 million into the state's thoroughbred and harness racing industry, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

In 2007, the first full year of operation, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund received $128.5 million from casino revenues. As a result, purses at Pennsylvania race tracks escalated from $55 million to $144 million in 2007, a nearly 162 percent increase in one year.

Melinda Tucker, director of racetrack gaming, said the 2008 figures will give a clearer picture of the impact of slots on thoroughbred and harness racing in Pennsylvania.

The picture is pretty clear to Rich Miller, owner of Mountain Springs Arena near Shartlesville, where he runs thoroughbred auctions.

He said horse racing in Pennsylvania is doing great.

And, he predicted, it will get even better as the remaining eight casinos begin operations over the next several years.

"Purses are up, and they're going up again in January," Miller said.

"More stallions are coming into Pennsylvania, and more people are getting in the game," he said. "It's getting pretty lucrative now. The value of Pennsylvania-bred horses has about doubled."

That's pretty sickening given the major problems facing Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania.

Look at this chart.

As a result of their 12% levy the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania has received $829,053,213,26 in revenues since 2006. Here is a link to the information.

Legislators are wondering how to fund our drastic highway repairs so sorely needed...duhhhhh.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rapid Fire Reading Around The State

Toohil appointed to leadership post in state House- State Representative Tarah Toohil who trounced then House Majority Leader Todd Eachus evicting him from his 116th Legislative District seat earns the deputy House Majority Whip post announced by House Majority Whip Stan Saylor, R-94, York. ( Read More............) What's that naysayers about losing seniority? If he had won he would have been in the minority anyway, same for Kanjorski, so don't buy into the typical election rhetoric about seniority. It's really about chutzpah..

Towns’ secession won’t be easy, commissioner says- Municipalities are looking to secede from Luzerne County and join Columbia County, one selling point, lower taxes (Read More...........)

Congressional race loser wins Corbett’s nomination- Pride Mobility Owner Dan Meuser's $60,000 campaing contributions to Governor-Elect Tom Corbett parlays into a $135,000 position. Last month, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that members of Corbett’s transition team and their employers gave almost $5 million to Corbett’s campaign, or 19 percent of his total contributions. ( Read More.........)

Grants OK'd by Rendell rapped- During his last three months in office, Gov. Ed Rendell approved almost $488 million worth of projects financed through state borrowing, about a third of them in Philadelphia, where Rendell was mayor.

The largest grant was $20 million to refurbish Lackawanna County Baseball Stadium, where a New York Yankees farm team will play. Three Philadelphia projects each received $10 million, including a corporate headquarters for brokerage firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. Smaller projects included $3 million for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender senior housing center in Philadelphia and $500,000 for a Kohl's store in Lycoming County.
( Read More............)

Gov. Ed Rendell signs execution warrants, including Middletown man's(Read More..........)
Rendell: Streamline executions or scrap them
Gov. Ed Rendell says the state's death penalty needs to be reviewed by the Legislature and either be fixed so that more murderers are executed or replaced with life sentences without the possibility of pardons.
(Read More..........)

Gov. Ed Rendell Has Meltdown On 60 Minutes, Suggests Lesley Stahl Is A “Simpleton” In case you missed it, Governor Ed Rendell was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes and he demonstrated his apparently “infamous temper” over a harmless question about casino gambling (Read More.........)

Did anyone notice Sallie Mae is lowering interest rates on student loans? Isn't this the agency that Paul Kanjorski touted about becoming one of the top ten employers in our region? From May, 2010- Sallie Mae, the USA's largest private student lender, will announce today that starting May 10, rates on its Smart Option Student Loan will be 2.88% to 10.25%, based on the current London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the benchmark for the variable-rate loan. That's down from a range of 4.38% to 12.88%. And they picked on the mob???!!! Oh and....The rates for borrowers attending non-degree granting institutions will range from LIBOR + 7.75% to LIBOR + 12.50% (8.13% APR to 13.88% APR

Here is a link on how to refinance a Sallie Mae loan for those in need. By the way you can save money by paying back Sallie Mae while you are still in school...duhhh..Sallie...who can afford to pay back while still in school??? Would they be borrowing the money in the first place??

Monday, January 10, 2011

Congressman Marino's Statement On Arizona Shooting


I am deeply saddened by today’s tragic and senseless attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and constituents.

It is especially discouraging since this past week we witnessed the peaceful transition of power that makes America the greatest nation on Earth.

My wife Edie and I, and members of my staff are praying for the full recovery of Rep. Giffords and all other victims of today’s shooting.

We extend our condolences to the families of Judge John Roll and the others who sadly did not survive the attack, especially to the family of the young child who was killed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chris Carney's Ridiculous Assertions Against Sarah Palin

In today's Times-Tribune Andrew Staub pens an article covering FORMER U.S. Congressman Chris Carney's comments over the shooting in Arizona of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and the killing of at least six people including a U.S. District Judge and a 9 year old girl.

Though Mr. Carney, a former U.S. representative from Dimock Twp., and other Northeast Pennsylvania political figures stopped short of assigning blame to Mrs. Palin, a rumored Republican candidate for president in 2012, Mr. Carney said "a lot of folks were concerned that something would happen sooner rather than later" after she released the map.

"You would think it shouldn't have to take something like this to be a lesson, but I think it's an indication of how far we've sunk," Mr. Carney said Saturday, lamenting that the "discourse in this country has deteriorated tremendously."

Though police have not yet released a motive that led 22-year-old Jared Loughner, the suspect in the shooting, to the Tucson grocery store, many posters at news and social networking websites immediately connected the shooting and Mrs. Palin's map. Mr. Carney called it "a reach to think that this was sort of a random event."

"I'm not sure if 'blame' is the right word for Ms. Palin, but I think it wasn't helpful, obviously," Mr. Carney said of her map. "It would be very useful if she came out and, if not apologize, say that she was wrong in putting that sort of logo on peoples' districts."

Here is the map that Carney refers to in his ridiculous comments.

Forget whether you believe they are crosshairs for sighting or calibration.

Look at this map from the Democratic Leadership Council contained in this article by Will Marshall in December, 2004.

Those bullseye markings resemble targets more than crosshairs outside a circle.

What a self-serving public relations effort by Carney. He should be ashamed of himself for using this shooting to talk about his political career. The Times-Tribune should stick to writing the news rather than appearing to influence election outcomes.