Thanks entirely to the utterly predictable results of last week’s election, I’ve heard two things being repeatedly bandied about on both local talk radio and the internet. And neither of them bode well for Greg Skrepenak and the boys.
The first reoccurring theme is that the inept Republican party in this county is in need of a serious, serious overhaul and sooner rather than later.
The other more ominous rumbling (if you’re in the political loop) is that it’s high time we revisit the Home Rule issue.
The former is probably about as likely as are the laughable warnings of imminent death, destruction and redrawn coast lines at the hands of Global Warming. But the latter…well, don’t count out the latter from gaining some steam.
When the majority commissioner sits on a $19.87 million deficit until after the election, as he recently did, odds are some segment of the electorate is going to become enraged. And when said majority commissioner also delays the long overdue property reassessment until after the election, as he recently did, odds are a whole other segment of the electorate is also going to be up in arms. And when that very same majority commissioner proposes to borrow $46.9 million, but can’t or won’t go into specifics, there are still others in that now grumbling electorate that will call for his political head, while many others will call for an entirely new form of government. Well, again, that is.
And as far as I’m concerned, we are completely justified in calling for that reinvention of the county’s fast-flattening financial wheels.
Home Rule? Been there, studied that, but I didn’t like the final draft of what our county government would have looked like during the first ill-fated go-round.
As for the possibility of a second Home Rule go-round, you can count me in.
You want to know why? Because our majority commissioner ran the most disingenuous campaign for reelection that I can remember. Because he knew damn well that his only chance of being reelected meant that the list of bad news had to be kept under wraps until after the polls closed. Because, thanks to him and many more before him, transparency in government in this county amounts to the janitors at the courthouse raising the dusty window blinds every once in a while.
Straight up, his was a series of lies of omission. In most other counties in most of those other states, we’d have clear grounds for an electoral recall. In the real world, we’d boot him out of office. Sadly, this is not the real world. Sadly, this is Pennsylvania. And he’s got four more years to spend with reckless abandon.
And what can you do about it? Well, one of two things. You can switch your party affiliation and donate heavily to that aforementioned repository of the inept, the Luzerne County Republican party. Or you can bring yourself up to speed on the many, many specifics of Home Rule in Pennsylvania. And if you’re interested at all, you can print the Home Rule booklet by following this link.
I still have my 6-year-old copy from way back when when Nancy Kemp of the Luzerne County Public Forum got the ball rolling in this county. Back when both Todd Vonderheid and Greg Skrepenak begged us to forgo the Home Rule plan in favor of trusting them and giving them a chance to change Luzerne County’s government for the betterment of all. I can get back up to speed on all that overnight revolution in the blink of an eye, but I think it’s equally important that others that haven’t studied it do so and do it now.
But with that prodding to give it an in-depth look comes a warning. Unlike that first Home Rule debacle, if it’s going to become to an issue--a movement--once again, we need it to be spearheaded by average folks who want not an elected position after the revolution, but want only a new and completely transparent form of county government. We need not frustrated politicians trying to weasel their way into a taxpayer-funded position. Rather, we need the storm troopers of change to rise from the ranks of the nobodies that are content with being a nobody. We need not the people looking to be compensated immediately. No, we need the people that would be satisfied with being compensated in the long-run after their county government becomes a lean and mean version of a profit-&-loss outfit ala the private sector. Point blank: if it looks like a politician and sounds like a politician, it’s probably a politician lying in wait.
And give no props to minority commissioner Steve Urban for exposing the county’s 2007 budget shortfalls right before the most recent election. As far as I’m concerned, he had to have had an inkling that the numbers were not adding up long before the November election brouhaha. In other words, he sat on the bad news until it could benefit him the most. He’s a partisan hack, he’s happy with his position that amounts to watching the county be run from afar, and he needs to be done away with just as much as the majority commissioners do. If he was so, so worried about our local finances, he wouldn’t have worked to undermine Luzerne County’s most fiscally responsible mayor, i.e., Mayor Tom Leighton.
Think about it. Four years ago, our city’s finances were in shambles. As of now, they are stabilized, balanced, current and the city has a credit rating where it had none before. And as the election grew near, there was Steve Urban stumping for a republican promising no shortage of spending. An overzealous republican, mind you, who’s infinite laundry list of promises clearly did not jive with the shallowness of the city’s coffers. A republican who he just happened to be married to.
Now, I ask you. If he were actually the tireless fiscal watchdog that he pretends to be, why would he work so hard to oust a Democrat who has indisputably brought back the county seat--Luzerne County’s largest city--from the brink of distressed city status? Why would he do such a counterproductive thing? Why? Because he is a Luzerne County Republican first, and a Luzerne County Commissioner second. He’s as much a fiscal watchdog as Michael Vick is an animal lover.
Sorry, but heedless partisanship from it’s elected “leaders” is not what this county needs. And anybody who suggests otherwise is asking you to sign a blank political bill of lading otherwise known as voting a straight party ticket.
You say we should ‘throw the bums out?’ Yeah, well why stop at throwing exactly half of the bums out? Why not toss all of the partisan bums out? Why not embrace the envisioned revolution that NEPA’s resident pinhead, Steve Corbett, is always hyperventilating about, when every other possible political recourse falls well short of that desired revolution?
You want significant and lasting change? You say you want transparency in government? You claim you want adherence to the oft-ignored Sunshine Laws? Yeah, well here’s your ticket. Here’s your chance. We screwed it up last time, so let’s get it right the next time. Let’s explore our many options via the Home Rule vehicle one more time. Let’s do much more than put an occasional electoral scare into our disdainful politicians. Let’s take our county government away from them and give it back to ourselves.
We gave the Young Gun commissioners the chance they pleaded for. We acquiesced when we probably should have been storming the palace with pitchforks in hand. And nothing changed.
We fu>ked up, we trusted them.
And after four more years of the reprehensible same ole‘, same ole’ inattentiveness to the wishes of the voters, the time for monumental change has arrived. Seriously, if you’re mad as hell and swearing you’re not going to take it anymore, there’s only one way to make certain that you won’t have to take it anymore. And that way through the deliberate haze and maze that has become our county government is Home Rule. It’s a drastic step, for sure. But, at this sorry point, it’s extremely hard to argue against it being a necessary step.
As I said, you can count me in.
So, who’s with me?
Anyone up for Home Rule II?
Some very recent electronic pulses. This one from the e-mail inbox:
Now, from the e-mail outbox:
And there you have it, one lowly blogger to another.
Um, truth be told, that picture is flat-out funny. And no matter which yard sign that dog may have chosen to spew upon, I would have used it. Luckily for me, it appears that the dog in question is politically astute, something you are obviously not.
If we can manage to locate that canine, perhaps it would consider tutoring you.
Just a thought.
Big day tomorrow. Yep. Tomorrow, grandkid #5 makes his big debut up at Geisinger Hospital on the hill up there a ways.
As of sometime tomorrow, the list grows to Gage Andrew, Taylor Kate, Zachary Bryce, Jeremy Nate and Avery Jayce.
At this rate, I’ll have more than enough rodents on hand to challenge Sue Henry’s legendary wiffleball team.
‘Til next time.