Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I'm not one of those. You will not hear me complain when someone, with the best of intentions wishes me, "Happy Holidays."

It's time we got over this idea that to wish someone, "Happy Holidays," is somehow disrespecting Jesus Christ.

Happy Holidays.

Holidays is the way we now say, "holy days."

So to wish someone, Happy Holidays," is to recognize that indeed Christmas, December 25th is a Holy Day when we celebrate the birth of a Savior.  And so is January 1st, when Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

Seasons Greetings!

Have a Cool Yule!

Happy Hanukkah! I'm not Jewish, but right back at ya!

Happy Kwanzaa. I'm not an African-American, but the same to you.

If someone you know, or even someone you don't know, goes out of his or her way to send you a  holiday wish consider yourself truly lucky and if you believe, give it right back.

So from me and mine to you and yours, have a Merry, Blessed and Joyous Christmas surrounded by family and friends and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Time for a Change

The Luzerne County Commissioners have approved a measure that will mean county employees will now "clock-in." A biometric system that will rely on palm recognition will be used.

I was fortunate to have (for the most part) wonderful employees when I worked for the county Board of Election. 99.99% of the time, employees were on time. Most arrived early. Workers were required to sign their name to a daily attendance sheet with the time of their arrival.

And because they were early, they served citizens who came to the office before the "official" start of the day at 9:00 AM. I was never asked to compensate employees who found themselves working before the work day began. Please note that legally some business could not be transacted before 9:00 o'clock but that didn't mean employees couldn't get much of the preliminary work accomplished and then time stamp documents once the day began.

The vast majority of Luzerne County workers are dedicated public servants who take their jobs very seriously.

I cannot wait for the first complaint brought by a citizen who is unhappy because workers would not serve them before 9:00.

Be careful for what you wish.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Rev. Daniel D. Hitchko has died. Father was the Principal at Central Catholic High School from 1968-1974. He was particularly close to my graduating class, the Class of '74. He was beloved and admired  In our last year at "Central" the name of our high school was changed to Bishop O'Reilly. We all hated the name and some of us got in big trouble after we complained in writing to then Bishop J. Carroll McCormick. 

At our graduation dinner, Father Hitchko gave each of us a special gift. It was a small snifter. On it were the words, "Central Catholic High School, Class of 1974." It's the only thing I have from my graduation that says, "Central Catholic."

Requiescat in pace, Father.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Kaiden Abul-Ela and his courageous battle against a rare form of brain cancer. Kaiden passed away this morning in the arms of his parents. There is a group on Facebook that was dedicated to following his story. (Let's Help Kaiden) His father writes poignantly of his son's death.

Kaiden was just two years old.

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moral Terrorism

Army Specialist Dale J. Kridlo will be buried tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery.

Members of a radical Baptist Church from Kansas had threatened to protest outside his funeral at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Pittston today.

They did not show up.

Thank God.

The mere threat led a crowd, estimated at between 500 and one thousand, to show up. They ringed the church, hoping to shield Kridlo's family from the vile bile of the protesters.

And the radicals won. Even without stepping foot in Northeastern Pennsylvania, they manged to be interviewed on radio and television and their story was carried in every news account of Kridlo's funeral.

I cannot imagine the anxiety and heartbreak of Kridlo's family. They did not know if stepping out of a car or leaving church would be the trigger that set off the protesters. I hope the overwhelming support of their neighbors and friends was a comfort.

Would the supporters have shown up without the threatened protest? I would like to think so.

Members of the Kansas church have shown up at other funerals. Families have sued them. The case is now before the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

At issue: Freedom of Speech.

It's one of the freedoms Dale Kridlo gave his life protecting.

I wonder what he would think?

If A Tree Falls...

If a tree falls in the Luzerne County Courthouse,

And no one is there to hear it,

Are we paying too much in taxes?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whatsoever You Do for the Least of My Brothers...

Within the last two weeks, two defendants in the Luzerne County Corruption Investigation have been sentenced to probation and community service. Part of each sentence includes working at the St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre.

The Kitchen, a project of Catholic Social Services of Wyoming Valley, serves hot hearty meals to the needy and disadvantaged.

I'm sorry, but doing God's work should not be punishment.

In fact, it is not outside the realm of possible that some of the people who use the kitchen have had their own troubles with the law. Some may be on probation and prohibited by their own sentences from consorting with known "felons."

Come to think of it, who is really being punished here?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil...and Just Plain Evil

Bobby Curley died much too young. He was just 32 when he passed in 1991, a victim of murder at his wife's hand.

Bobby was systematically poisoned and died an excruciating death.

Joann Curley pleaded guilty to the killing in 1997. She's serving a sentence that could keep her in jail until December, 2016.

I knew Bob. Well enough to call him, "friend."

Joann Curley now wants to be released from prison. This is her fifth attempt at parole.

I covered this case as a reporter. The evidence, though circumstantial was overwhelming.

She doesn't deserve early release.

Bob's family and specifically his sister Susan are now asking for our help.

Please send a letter to the Office of the Victim Advocate, Board of Probation and Parole, 1101 South Front Street, Suite 5200, Harrisburg PA 17104. Letters must be received by November 30, 2010.

Ask the Board to deny Joann Curley's application for parole.

If you struggle with what to write, try this: Joann Curley is just plain "evil."

Monday, November 8, 2010

SWB Yankees

Kudos to the Lackawanna County Commissioners and New York Yankees for hammering out a deal that keeps baseball (the greatest sport ever invented) in Northeastern Pennsylvania for 30 years.

The rendering of the new Lackawanna County Stadium shows this will be a jewel and a huge draw, just as the present stadium was twenty years ago.

As a Phillies' fan I loathe the Yankees (2009 World Series), but if it's true the Bronx Bombers are to be applauded.

I may even go to a game.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Please be advised that I picked the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series in six games.

That being said, here are my picks for the election.

Corbett wins for Governor.

Sestak pulls an upset in the U.S Senate.

The third time will be the charm as Lou Barletta upsets Paul Kanjorski.

Chris Carney will keep his seat defeating Tom Marino, whose negatives are just too much to overcome, even in a heavily Republican 10th District.

Luzerne County voters will say "NO" to Home Rule.

Phyllis Mundy will be re-elected as Republican Bill Goldsworthy and Libertarian Tim Mullen split the opposition vote.

I think Todd Eachus will go back to Harrisburg after a nail biter with Tara Toohil.

In the PA senate races: Blake and Yudichak.

And in no particular order; Coons in Delaware, Brown and Fiorina in California, Angle in Nevada, Manchin in West Virginia, Murray in Washington, Rubio in Florida, Miller in Alaska.

The U.S. House goes Republican. The U.S Senate stays Democratic.

Turns out Barack Obama's first term was only two years.

That's my opinion. I could be wrong.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brother Harold Rogan C.S.C. 1922-2010

Brother Harold Rogan C.S.C. passed away Monday. He was 88.

Brother Harold was the last living member of the founding congregation of Holy Cross priests and brothers who migrated east from the University of Notre Dame to establish King's College in Wilkes-Barre in 1946. That's Brother with His Excellency Bishop John Dougherty at the dedication of a monument on the King's campus in 2008.

We Jordans had a special relationship with Brother. He was my uncle's best friend and Brother was a fixture at my mother's holiday table.

Among the many who came to the Chapel of Christ the King for his funeral was a young woman who literally owes her life to Brother Harold.

On September 29, 1972. she was just hours old when she was discovered by Brother Harold and Francis Lenahan. She had been abandoned. What could have been a tragedy was averted.

Her name is Christine. Today she is a beautiful young woman, wife and mother. Her story is her story and not mine to tell.

She was there tonight, joining Bishops, Priests , Brothers and all the others in the Monarch community to say, "good-bye."

He was unassuming. But Brother Harold had a long meaningful life that touched others and made a true difference.

Rest in Peace Brother Harold.

Rest in God's peace.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Obligation

Let's get this out of the way up front. I'm a huge Phillies fan.

I've read, heard and seen a lot over the last few days about Manager Charlie Manuel's "obligation," to play his best players against the Atlanta Braves in the final series of the regular season rather than giving them a rest as they prepare for the post season. The Braves are still hoping to punch their ticket to October baseball by winning the Wild Card.

Charlie does have an obligation. To me.

He has an obligation to keep me on the edge of my seat through two rounds of playoffs and the World Series. The Phillies have won the National League East title. They have nothing more to prove in the regular season. Play your starters? I don't think so. Let them rest. Play your bench Charlie. Don't risk injury and don't listen to those who say you have an obligation to win the final three meaningless games of the regular season.

On Wednesday, bench players Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and John Mayberry got a chance to start. All three homered in a rather convincing Phillies' win.

Football fans have faced a similar dilemma recently when teams rested their starters after clinching playoff berths rather than pursue an undefeated season.

It's the same argument that some make about playing ALL kids in a game, not just the good ones.


When "D+" students get a chance to compete on "Scholastic Scrimmage," then come to me and make the argument that all kids should play.

So rest your starters Mr. Manuel. And by the way, feel free to argue balls and strikes in the first inning of any of the final three games of the 2010 season and get yourself ejected. Take the rest of the day off.

You deserve it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some Stories Shouldn't Be Told

Shame on the local television station that aired a report on the charitable effort by Catholic Social Services and the St. Vincent DePaul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre to give underprivileged kids free backpacks and school supplies.

The station not only showed the faces of children and their parents, but interviewed one young lady who was left to explain that school supplies were expensive and her family could not afford them.

No doubt, CSS sent out a press release to let people know where they could get the free school supplies. That doesn't mean a news department should cover it in a way that could lead to embarrassment and humiliation for children.

Kids can be very cruel. Reporters shouldn't be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kaiden Abul-Ela

Meet Kaiden Abul-Ela. We've never met, but I've gotten to know him on the internet. I do know his great aunt who is a friend.

I bring him to your attention because I have followed this boy's fight against a rare form of brain cancer, Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). He has endured surgery and treatment. He's a month shy of his second birthday.

Kaiden needs additional treatment. His parents are fighting to get that treatment. All of this comes to mind just a year after brain cancer claimed the life of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Fellow blogger and friend David Yonki, in his weekly feature "Write-On Wednesday" on the Lu-Lac Political Letter includes a Newsweek article penned by Kennedy after his diagnosis: "Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy. But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to."

Kaiden's parents are now seeking the same proton-beam radiation afforded Kennedy for their little boy. It offers the best hope for minimizing long term damage. Doctors at Children's Hospital of Boston have said, "No."

Still his parents fight. Still doctors say no.

And somewhere Ted Kennedy is spinning in his grave.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stuck Between Iraq And A Hard Place

The last American combat troops have left Iraq. The United States went to war in Iraq following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ostensibly the mission was to seek out weapons of mass destruction.

Having found none, the US mission became an effort to bring a stable democracy to Iraq. Along the way Saddam Hussein was brought to justice for acts of genocide against his own people. He was tried, convicted based on the evidence, sentenced to death and executed.

A fair trial in Iraq was no small task. A fair trial is an American principle.

Now another of our principles is being put to the test; freedom of religion.

A controversial Imam is leading the effort to establish a community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from Ground Zero. New York City officials have cleared the way for construction.

Is it a good idea? I don't know.

From a public relations standpoint; bad idea.

From a freedom of religion standpoint; I think we may have to live with it.

Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Director of the Louis Finklestein Institute for Religious and Social Studies in New York wrote President Obama saying, "It is not sufficient to assert the right to build; only the free exercise of that right is a guarantee of religious freedom."

It is distasteful for the thousands who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. I would like to see the mosque built somewhere else. Does that mean I'm a religious bigot? I hope not.

America; we're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bill Longworth

Bill Longworth and I worked together at WBRE-TV 28 from 1982-1986. He now hosts "Capitol Connection" a production of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus.

I've known Bill since 1973 when as weekend radio reporters we would trade stories. Bill worked at WEJL-AM in Scranton and I worked at WILK-AM in Wilkes-Barre.

He's a dear and cherished friend.

The thing I remember most about our television days was our inability to work together. That's right, we couldn't be in the same room. Not because we disliked each other or because we had major philosophical differences about our approach to news. We had a much larger problem. We made each other laugh.

Not a smile or a giggle.

Outrageous, knee-slapping laughter.

Wholly inappropriate laughter.

The kind of over-the-top, infectious, the more you tried to suppress, it only got worse laughter that used to get me sent to Sister Imelda's office on a regular basis.

This became particularly difficult when I would appear on set with Bill when he would fill in between the station's anchorman mistakes. It would start with a smile, then a laugh and end with panic. We got the lecture a couple of times.

But the funniest moments came off camera in the WBRE newsroom. We had a news director who really thought he was God's gift to television. Trust me, he wasn't. Bill and I "disliked" him.

Every now and then Bill and I would phone each other to complain about the boss. Mind you we would be talking on the phone when our desks were less than ten feet apart. The News Director suspected we were talking to each other. We would be laughing out loud, at the same time. He would then call one of us to his desk.

Now if we both hung up at the same time, he would know we were talking to each other. So Bill and I would take turns, NOT HANGING UP. That's right the conversation would continue with no one on the other end of the line. Most perplexing for the ND. To really sell it, we would stay on the phone, talking to no one, for several minutes at a time.

We've written some really good news stories in our time, but we were most creative when we were talking to nobody. And the longer we stayed on the phone, the more difficult it became for the one of us standing before the ND to keep from laughing.

The News Director never figured it out.

Just writing this makes me laugh out loud to the point of tears.

Gosh, I miss those days.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Statue of Limitations

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports the sculpture called, "The Pennsylvania Worker," has been moved from the grounds of the Governor's Mansion to a remote spot outside the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry in Harrisburg.

It cost $135-thousand dollars back in 1992 when it was dedicated by Governor Robert P. Casey.

It cost $40-thousand to move.

From James Carville and Paul Begala's 2002 book, "Buck Up, Suck Up...and Come Back When You Foul Up:" "Outside the Governor's Mansion, Casey built a statue of a heroic, muscular workingman, in the style popular during the New Deal. Casey worked hard to raise the money to build it. "Because," he once told us, "I want every son of a bitch who ever lives in that house to walk out that door every morning and be reminded he works for the working people of Pennsylvania."

Move it back. Move it back now. Just move it back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pet Peeve (The Finale)


It's pronounced Wilkes-Barre. (Wilkes-Berry.) Named After John Wilkes, an English radical and journalist and Isaac Barre, an Irish soldier and son of a French refugee.
It's the first thing they tell you when you get hired at a local radio or television station. It's not Wilkes-Bear or Wilkes-Berra...WILKES-BARRE. And by the way, it's always hyphenated. (That means there's a dash between Wilkes and Barre for those of you in Glen Lyon.)

You may ask how I can be so certain about this? I was told by a man from Beemington, NY during a meeting in Ceilingsgrove.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two Card Monte

The passage of Pennsylvania's 2010-11 budget left the issue of a severance tax on natural gas extracted from Marcellus Shale up in the air. There is an agreement in Harrisburg that some tax will be passed by October 1st. Those revenues are needed to balance the spending plan.

Gas companies have already begun an advertising campaign opposing any type of tax.

Truth be told, the gas companies would LOVE a tax. Not an exorbitant tax, but a tax.


The coalition opposed to drilling is pushing for a moratorium. The group questions the safety of not only the actual drilling but the potentially toxic cocktail of chemicals used to fracture the shale and release the gas. They are gaining momentum.

But when lawmakers consider the tax, the debate will shift the focus off the environment and public safety and onto money. Faced with a threat of higher taxes, many will support some type of extraction tax and that's when the gas companies win.

Economics versus the environment?

Jobs versus higher unemployment? (I'm all for jobs, but not just doctors, nurses and deputy coroners.)

When Pennsylvania becomes dependant on the revenues from a gas tax it will become difficult if not impossible to stop the drilling no matter the reason.

Three card monte? How about two card monte?

No matter which card you choose, you lose.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

I tend to go on when someone I know passes.

I intend for this to not sound like an obituary. If it does, I apologize in advance. In reality, a little piece of our corner of the earth is passing away.

Our friend Paul Stueber is leaving us.

Not that way.

Paul is moving on to continue a storied career in broadcast journalism.

I consider him a friend. I hope he feels the same way. I don't know him well . Our paths haven't crossed as frequently as I would like. My fault, not Paul's.

Respect him? That would be understatement.

I met Paul while covering the crash of a jet at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
My photographer and I were working the tall grass of the crash site when he pulled up on his motorcycle. I didn't know who he was until he introduced himself. Pretty cool.

About a year later, 1986, I decided to change jobs and move to WYOU-TV. I got treated pretty shabbily on the way out by my former employer. A local newspaper columnist, with a not so hidden agenda, decided to take me on because of my decision. It was something I could not and would not respond to. He'd love to see me mention him and his newspaper here. Not going to happen.

I was pretty low the morning the column appeared. As I prepared to cover the day's news, a knock came on my office door. A courier hand delivered a letter. It was on WNEP-TV stationary.

I fully expected I was about to get my chops busted. Nothing of the sort.

"Dear Kevin, Illegitimi Non Carborundum."

Now Sister Gabriel Marie had somehow managed to teach me enough Latin at Central Catholic High School that I knew what it said.

Translation; "Don't let the bastards grind you down!"

The rest I would prefer to keep between me and the writer.

It was signed, "Your friend, Paul Stueber."

All these years later, I have the letter.

Always within reach.

I immediately called to thank him. He wished me well in my future endeavors. Unlike every other time I'd heard that, he meant it.

Paul Stueber is first class. And if there was a class higher than first he'd be in that.

I hope those at his new television station will realize how lucky they are to learn at the knee of one of the legendary greats in broadcasting.

I won't say good-bye, just so long and in the words of a wise man and good friend, "Be well."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Just Out

Norman Bates.

There, I said it. No one else will say it, so I will.

Norman Bates. Norman F. Bates.

I'm sure at this point you've figured out that this is going to be about that 91-year old Bradford County woman who was living in her home with the corpses of her late husband and late sister.

This will be light on specifics. We've all heard the gory details.

This woman needs help. Please see that she gets it.

Authorities are deciding if she will face criminal charges. Some say she did no harm and should not face prosecution. Are you kidding me?

The woman was living with her dead husband and dead sister (did I mention that they were both DEAD!) She is apparently cooperating with investigators. She's described as kindly and sweet. There seems to be a real reticence to charge her.

She apparently had help digging up the bodies, DEAD bodies. I don't think State Police will hesitate to charge the conspirators. And what about the social worker. You know that person is going to face a boatload of trouble for not figuring the whole thing out sooner.

The most obvious crime is abuse of corpse. Abuse of corpse is when someone treats a corpse in a way that would "outrage ordinary family sensibilities." Perhaps the only families not offended are surnamed "Manson."

Age cannot be a factor. She must be charged, if for no other reason than to get her the help she so desperately needs.

Besides, we don't want this to become common place.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Car 54 Where Are You?

The City of Wilkes-Barre Police Department will begin enforcing a ban on cell phone use while driving.

If you are caught talking or texting on your cell phone, are cited and found guilty, you face a $75.00 fine.

The city has erected signs warning motorists of the new ordinance.


I see a driver using his cell phone. I pull over and pick up my cell phone and call Wilkes-Barre Police to report the infraction. A dispatcher then radios a patrol car to report the incident. The officer driving the police vehicle then takes one of his hands off the steering wheel, looks down and picks up his police radio to acknowledge the call and respond.

In doing so, the officer takes his eyes off the road momentarily and slams into the back end of an LCTA bus.

Film at 11.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flotsam & Jetsam

The World Cup is finally over. Well, not officially, but since the United States lost to Ghana, there is no longer a need to watch. ESPN has invested a lot of time and money into presenting the World Cup and got a boost when Team USA got a little further along than many predicted. Frankly, I don't get soccer and I think most Americans will now turn their attentions to a real sport...BASEBALL!

Speaking of which, Edwin Jackson of The Arizona Diamondbacks threw the fourth no-hitter of the year Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. If you count the almost no-hitter/perfect game in Detroit, there have actually been five no-hitters. One more and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will lower the pitcher's mound and order starters to throw one inning with their opposite hand.

Dateline (Jim Thorpe) If Jim Thorpe is actually buried in Jim Thorpe, then Jim Thorpe's body should be moved out of Jim Thorpe and buried in Oklahoma. The name of the town Jim Thorpe should then be changed to "Mingo." And if you get that reference to 1960's television, congratulations. You've just won two tickets to the Finals of the World Cup.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where's Trump When You Need Him?

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm not a big fan of the President. With a decent mandate, he's squandered his first year and a half in office. Don't say he passed Health Care, because none of us, including the President, really knows what's in the law. Don't get me started on baseball.

My Old Man (that's truly a term of endearment) always talked about the chain-of-command. He did a lot of things he didn't agree with. But he said, "you take orders and you don't embarrass the Boss."

General Stanley McChrystal has apologized for his intemperate remarks to Rolling Stone.

If the President doesn't fire him, he'll be perceived as weak. If he does pull a Harry Truman on Douglas MacArthur, he'll be criticized.

It's not going to be enough for the General to lose a star

The meeting in the Oval Office, I think it will go something like this:

The President enters the room, McChrystal stands up. The President says, "Please, sit. I've been looking for some ass to kick so, YOU'RE FIRED."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Chief.

CPO Donald M. Jordan USN 1930-1996

Today is a good day to remember.

On this Father's Day I remember my Dad, Chief Petty Officer Donald Miles Jordan. He served in the United States Navy from 1948 to 1968 which included two tours in Viet Nam. He was a proud member of PF-143 "The Pukin' Dogs."

Circumstances were such that we couldn't be there when he retired and was "piped overboard" at the NAS Beeville, Texas.

When he died a group of local Navy Chiefs "piped him overboard" the night before his funeral in a ceremony, which still brings a tear to my eye.

He was a veteran longer than he was active duty, but he was Navy through and through.

We lost him way too soon.

He was a good guy. My brother and sisters and I miss him every day.

Happy Father's Day, Chief.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


While watching Fox News Sunday, I saw a commercial for the new talk station in town, 94.3 The Talker. It promoted their line-up including Sean Hannity. Problem is it was spelled, "H-A-N-N-E-D-Y."


By the way, unless the station offers some local talk and a real local news department, I fear it is bound to fail.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Point Man

It's hard to imagine any President taking a page out of Richard Nixon's play book, but President Obama should.

With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico getting worse each day, the federal government is widely perceived as doing little, if anything at all to help residents and businesses affected by the catastrophe. This despite the President visiting the Gulf three times since the disastrous explosion of the New Horizon oil rig.

After the June 1972 Agnes Flood, President Richard Nixon visited Northeastern Pennsylvania but once. At the time Agnes was the worst natural disaster in American history.

Nixon appointed Frank Carlucci, a native of the Wyoming Valley, as his point man for the recovery.

His job, ostensibly, was to cut through the red tape and keep the federal effort on track. Politically, Carlucci's mission was to keep any fallout from hurting Nixon's re-election chances in November of that year.

Carlucci, who went on to serve as Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor to President Reagan, is widely acclaimed and given high marks for his efforts.

President Obama has been criticized for appointing "czars" to oversee specific parts of his agenda. In this instance however the President should do just that. Appoint a federal czar to take command of the disaster.

And if you need advice on how to make this work Mr. President, call Frank Carlucci. He can show you how it's done.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Big Bang Theory

From the Williamsport Sun-Gazette: Residents from Lock Haven to Williamsport, Rauchtown to Avis report hearing a "big boom" earlier this week. It was heard at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday May 18th. Some say the noise was reminiscent of a sonic boom heard in July 2001 when a meteor crashed into a cornfield near Williamsport. Local officials have no explanations for the noise.

I think what they heard was the end of a certain U.S. Senate career.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ATM. You're Charging Me How Much?

John Shepherd-Barron, the Scotsman credited with inventing the world's first automatic cash machine,(ATM) has died after a short illness. He was 84. But it will be listed in his obituary as 87.

Film at 11.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


In an interview on WILK'S "The Morning News with Webster and Nancy," Senator Arlen Specter repeatedly referred to the jobs he saved at, "Letterkenny Army Depot." That's true. Problem #1 is Letterkenny is in Franklin County and of virtually no interest to the voters of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He probably meant the Tobyhanna Army Depot, something pointed out by Nancy Kman after the interview.

Specter is in the fight of his political life with Representative Joe Sestak for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate.

In the closing days of the campaign there have been whispers about Specter's age. He's 80 and would be 86 should he complete a sixth term.

A few weeks ago, Specter thanked supporters at the Allegheny County Republican Dinner. Problem #2, the Senator was speaking before the Allegheny County Democratic Dinner.

Problem #3, Specter switched from Republican to Democrat last year and cast a crucial vote in favor of President Obama's financial recovery plan. For the past thirty years, the Democrats Specter now courts have been trying to find a way to beat him.

Now they can.

I don't think this is going to be as close as some predict. Sestek in a walk and a major upset

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lieutenant

Pennsylvania's first female Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

There’s got to be a better way to pick the Lt. Governor in Pennsylvania.

Currently, the major political parties nominate candidates for the number two job in state government in the General Primary in May. The nominees then join the candidates for Governor to form a ticket. In November, voters vote for a pair of candidates from one party. You must vote for candidates of the same political party. There are currently twelve candidates, three Democrats and nine Republicans, running for Lt. Governor in 2010 and most voters would be hard pressed to name a few let alone all of them. In a crowded field, one will win with a very low percentage of the vote. Certainly it won’t be a mandate.

And because the nominee is chosen by voters, it is possible that a party could choose nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor who are not politically compatible.

The last three Governors have had to deal with the Lt. Governor issue. Mark Singel became Acting Governor when Gov. Robert P. Casey underwent transplant surgery in 1993. Though elected together, the two men had grown apart politically. Lt. Governor Mark Schweiker became the 45th Governor of Pennsylvania when Tom Ridge resigned to take the job as first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. In 2008, Catherine Baker Knoll died in office. Under the state constitution, State Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati succeeded her as Lieutenant Governor. A Republican now serves as the number two to Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

In November 2005, State Senator and former Lieutenant Governor Robert Jubelirer (he became Schweiker’s Lt. Governor) proposed legislation in which the Lieutenant Governor's primary election would be dropped in favor of a gubernatorial candidate selecting a "running-mate" for the November general election, similar to a presidential candidate choosing a Vice Presidential candidate.

That’s the way it should be done. Some would argue that takes the decision out of the hands of voters. There are no such complaints on the federal level.Give the Gubernatorial nominee thirty days to choose his running-mate. Mandate that the choice be endorsed by the parties’ State Committees.

And let the race begin.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Valentino C. Andreoli 1940-2009

This week is National Law Enforcement Week and I wanted to acknowledge the late great Tino Andreoli.

Tino was a Wilkes-Barre City Police Detective and a friend who passed away late last year. The photo is from his "baseball card," which proudly sits under glass on my desk.

Tino has been on my mind since the death of Tigers' baseball legend Ernie Harwell. Tino loved baseball. He loved the Boston Red Sox. But it was not unusual to see Tino show up at high school and college sporting events. When you were in his presence, he made you feel like you were his best friend. That was something I read about Ernie Harwell.

And he had the greatest name, Valentino Andreoli.

Tino was a great cop and an even better guy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Better Ballots

Here’s an idea whose time has come; cancel the election.

Not all together. Just stop holding elections every year.

The Pennsylvania Election Code calls for Primaries and Elections to be held each year. In odd numbered years, Municipal Primaries and Elections are conducted. These primaries and elections result in voters choosing their representatives in Municipal government, School Boards and on the Courts. In even numbered years, General Primaries and Elections are held. Voters choose the President, Governor, U.S. Senators, members of Congress and the General Assembly. In even numbered years, voters also select party officers; Committee men and women on a precinct level and on a statewide level.

Here’s the problem; turnout in Municipal Election years is woeful. It’s much better in General Election years.

According to figures supplied by the counties, 36% of all voters cast ballots in Luzerne County in the 2009 Municipal Election. The figure was 34% in Lackawanna County. In 2007, turnout was 39% in Luzerne County, 43% in Lackawanna County.

Compare those numbers with 2008 when we elected a President; 74% in Luzerne County and 70% in Lackawanna County. In 2006, the turnout was roughly 50% in each county. In 2006 we elected a Governor and Members of the General Assembly.

More people vote in the Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections than in Municipal Elections. It’s a simple fact.

So why not cancel the odd year (off year) primaries and elections. Move Municipal Elections to even numbered years when more voters go to the polls and vote. An act of the State Legislature would be needed to move the primaries and elections. Terms of Mayors, Commissioners, Council Members and others should be shortened for one term from four years to three years. The process is a bit more complicated for offices like Constable and Township Supervisors where the term of office is six years.

In twelve years, all local municipal offices including School Boards could be on the even year schedule.

The current system was necessary when Automatic Voting Machines (the legal name for the old lever machines) restricted the number of candidates who could appear on the ballot. Computerized voting machines can accommodate all candidates.

It puts local offices on the ballot when more voters go to the polls and actually vote.

It also saves money. With elections held every other even year, there are dramatically fewer costs.

The Luzerne County Charter Study should seize this opportunity and move any and all county elections to even years.

It’s a bold move, but one I think pays for itself in lower costs and higher voter interest.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Those Hazy, Lazy, "Tasey" Days of Summer.

A Philadelphia police officer used a taser to subdue a 17-year old fan who ran onto the field of Monday's game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The cop hit a moving target who was running around in circles trying to elude capture.

If that officer can do that, with that accuracy, I think Phil's GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. should sign him to a contract. The Phils need some middle inning relief.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

That Saturday in September

George Emil Banks is nuts.

Period. End of sentence. End of story.

As a reporter for WBRE-TV 28, I covered the thirteen murders and one assault Banks committed on September 25, 1982. Five of the victims were his own children.

I covered his murder trial in 1983.

I know the prosecutors. I know the investigators. I know the defenders. I know the case well.

George Banks is delusional. Is now and probably was then.

There is no chance he will ever be released from prison.

I do not believe that any Governor of Pennsylvania would be comfortable in signing an execution warrant given the conflicting testimony of experts who cannot agree if Banks is competent to die by lethal injection.

It’s time for the endless appeals to be over.

This is closure. It is not the closure some sought, but it is closure.

Period. End of sentence. End of story.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Keep the Faith

His Excellency Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has been installed as the tenth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.

His first official act came Wednesday at the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre as he dined with those who depend on the kitchen for their daily meal.

It was a noble gesture. He seems like the right man for the job at the right time.

Despite the enthusiasm that has surrounded his Ordination; the new Bishop has much work to do to heal the wounds of the many who feel their Church has abandoned them.

Much of the heavy lifting (the closings of schools and parishes) was done by Bishop Joseph Martino, his predecessor.

Two key issues remain; the unionization of Catholic school teachers and the abuse of children by priests.

I expect that Bishop Bambera, who has already opened dialogue with the teachers, will recognize their union and their right to bargain collectively. That will come with a price. The Diocese will most likely close additional schools as a result.

The priest abuse scandal now rocking the Vatican is far from over in this Diocese.

An examination of the cases that have been made public in the Scranton diocese shows a common thread. There is one Catholic school that links many of the abusers. I have long suspected that there are many more cases of abuse that have not been reported publicly and are linked to the school.

Until the Bishop releases details of the abuses and the official actions taken by the Diocese, there is no way to restore trust.

Bishop Bambera it is time to actively pursue abusers. Do not wait for an accusation to wind its way through the Church bureaucracy. Be aggressive.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be pleasant.

But as a new Bishop takes office, it will be the only way to, “keep the faith.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Joseph A. Lach, Esq. 1949-2010


Joe Lach has died.
Joe was a prominent local attorney.
I met him by covering him.
I knew him because, for many years, we both attended daily Mass at King's College.
He was a good man.
He was always quick with a kind word and encouragement.
My condolences to his family and friends.