Thursday, March 27, 2008

Union Support

The Alliance for Worker Freedom has worked up a matrix to show contributions from labor unions to members of Congress. According to AWF, labor unions have given approximately $29 million dollars in contributions during the 2008 Election Cycle. Of that, about 90% went to Democrats with the remaining 10% going to Republicans. NEPA’s own Chris Carney made the list of top recipients with $179,900 in contributions from labor interest groups. Congressmen Jason Altmire and Patrick Murphy also made the list.

Yet Another Luzerne County Problem

The Times Leader is reporting that Democrat Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak is in hot water again. This time, there may be two provisions of the State Ethic Law that apply to some of his “gifts” from county vendors. I previously reported on questionable no-bid contracts that have plagued Luzerne County. Skrep just can’t seem to catch a break…unless of course you consider a week at a beach house and free Steelers tickets as a break.

The TL has also recently reported on possible bidding laws being violated on food items being purchased for the prison. Apparently, over $850,000 in no-bid purchases was performed. The reason…they spent $2870 on chunky applesauce.

State law and County Purchasing rules require bids and quotes for purchases exceeding a certain dollar amount. County purchasing director Greg Hunsinger was treating each item separately so he didn’t think he had to put anything under that threshold out to bid.

Teamsters Think Best is Best

PJ Best has gained the endorsement of Teamsters Local 229 according to his website. PJ is challenging incumbent Democrat Mike Carroll for the Democratic nomination in the 118th.

113th Update

According to the Scranton Times, Frank Shimkus will not file an appeal to the judgement that removed him from the ballot. The article also confirmed that Shimkus will not switch to Republican regardless of the outcome of the race. Apparently, he will use the Republican Party as a matter of utility, not with genuine loyalty to the party.

Jim Williams, 2006 candidate for the 113th has said that he will also seek the nomination for the 113th as a write-in candidate. Mr. Williams is a long time Republican Party activist.

Patrick O’Malley, the lone Republican on the Scranton School Board and top vote getter in the 2007 General Election, will also seek the Republican nod as a write-in candidate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shimkus to Use GOP

Embattled Democrat State Representative Frank Andrew Shimkus will seek the Republican nomination through a write-in effort, according to the Scranton Times. Shimkus also stated that he intends to file his appeal this Friday with the State’s higher court.

The lone survivor on the ballot, Democrat Kevin Murphy, said he intends to consult his campaign staff before making a determination as to his own potential write-in effort for the GOP nomination.

The question still remains, and shame on Dave Singleton of the Scranton Times for not asking, if Frank Andrews Shimkus wins the Republican nomination, but not the Democratic nomination, will he switch parties or just use the Republican Party to make up for his paperwork malfunction. The voters deserve to know Mr. Shimkus's intentions and loyalties before they cast their vote on April 22.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tom Ryan for Mayor?

If you attended the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Scranton as I did, you should have noticed a participant in the Parade, Tom Ryan. Having remembered the signs his supporters were waiving I decided to check out his website. Not sure what to say about it yet, but it is worth check out for the humor value alone. The website is VoteTomRyan.com. He says he will be updating the page every Tuesday. Presently, he is asking viewers to help him select his campaign slogan by voting on the website.

Shimkus Will Fight

State Representative Frank Andrews Shimkus will fight to keep his seat. The Scranton Times is reporting that Shimkus will not only appeal his removal from the 2008 Primary Ballot but if unsuccessful in his appeal, conduct a write-in.

One can only assume that he contends to conduct this write-in on the Republican ballot since Kevin Murphy was able to fend off challenges to his own candidacy and remains the lone Democrat on the ballot in the 113th Legislative District.

It is difficult to say how Republican voters will feel about Shimkus. The Judge’s opinion was rather scathing, stating that Shimkus intentionally misled the voters. Shimkus is also a Reverend, which some would argue causes people to expect a greater level of integrity from Shimkus. Also, it was argued in the case that Shimkus misled voters to cover for living with his fiancĂ©e before they were married, an obvious taboo for a man of the cloth. Shimkus has also been very supportive of the Democratic leadership in the state, counting as a powerful ally State Senator Robert Mellow.

Should Shimkus conduct a write-in, he has a distinct advantage over many challengers. Shimkus worked in local television as a news anchor for many years under the “stage name” of Frank Andrews. This will obviously contribute to an increase in name identification to the average voter. He still faces challenges, as explained above, but this give him a far better chance of overcoming them.

It is unknown if the Republican Party will field a write-in candidate since this race is now essentially an open contest. Should the Republican Party not field a successful candidate and should Shimkus win the Republican nomination, this may create a situation not seen in the Scranton area since 2005.

In 2005, the Republican Party did not field a candidate against Mayor Chris Doherty. Doherty was challenged in the Democratic Primary by insurance agent Gary DiBileo. DiBileo lost the Democratic nomination, but secured the Republican nomination due to write-in votes. DiBileo however refused to change parties. This caused many Republicans to feel shunned and either support Doherty or just skip the race entirely. Doherty was successful in securing a second term, breaking the trend of Democrats loosing re-election to the office of Mayor in the City of Scranton.

Should Shimkus win the Republican nomination but still remain a Democrat, he may face this DiBileo-type challenge himself. The best thing that Shimkus could hope for is a favorable opinion from the State’s higher court and be placed back on the Democratic ticket to avoid this wrangling.

Luck o' the Irish?

Scranton found a $12,000,000 pot of gold in Fidelity Bank recently. According to the Scranton Times, the Scranton tax collector’s office has found approximately $12,000,000 in surplus funds that no one seems to be able to explain. Ken McDowell, Democrat and former Tax Collector of the City of Scranton, was the elected official responsible for managing that office and its money.

Ken McDowell has had a troubled history in that office. During his 2005 re-election campaign, late tax returns became an issue. At the time, McDowell blamed a new computer system that was designed to modernize the office. Taxpayers obviously took him at his word that this would be resolved after the election since they returned him to the office for a second term.

McDowell has also had a difficult time with the employees he managed as Tax Collector. There were multiple grievances filed during his tenure, 13 to be exact. Nancy Krake, a local union official, stated in the article that this imbalance in the books has been identified by her at Scranton City Council meetings in the past which resulted in no action on the part of the City. Apparently, an audit has not been performed for a number of years.

Recently, Mayor Chris Doherty asked for and City Council granted a 25% tax increase in the City of Scranton.

Ken McDowell was elected in 2007 to serve a four year term as Controller of Lackawanna County.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shimkus Tossed From Ballot

According to the Scranton Times, State Representative Frank Andrews Shimkus has been removed from the ballot for the Aprill 22 Primary Election.

Shimkus was challenged by his Primary opponent, Kevin Murphy, as well as Scranton area activists Joe and Joanne Pilchesky. The challenge was based on the address that Shimkus listed as his residence. Judge Jubelirer stated that the use of the address in question was “a purposeful misrepresentation made in bad faith and with intent to deceive the electorate.”

This leaves North Scranton resident Kevin Murphy as the lone Democrat in the race. No Republican filed petitions leaving a vacancy on the Republican side of the ballot. Questions linger as to whether or not a Republican write-in will be attempted.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hey, Talk to My Wife!

Democrat State Representative Ken Smith owes $27,000 in delinquent property taxes, penalties, and interest over a three year period on his family owned and operated restaurant in Scranton’s South Side. When contacted in his Harrisburg office by a Scranton Times reporter, Smith blamed his wife. From the Scranton Times ““My wife takes care of that. I take care of the kitchen. I thought we were up to snuff.”

The Scranton Times wrote a follow-up editorial today that basically chastised him for throwing his wife under the bus. The editorial can be read by following this link.

Ken Smith is running unopposed in the 2008 Primary Election.