12-12-2007 Plan B?

I‘ve got one question and one question only for both majority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak and activist Tim Grier: what next?

Seriously, did either one of these two have a Plan B in my mind when they set this budget challenge logjam in motion? Is this it? They both stick to their guns, and the county government shuts down for months on end as the state reviews the proposed budget, while the county appeals the challenge? That’s it?

Greg Skrepenak caused this mess by hiding the county’s ‘07 budget shortfall, as well as the county’s intention to take on tens of millions in new debt until after the most recent election. In his defense, that’s what the democrats typically do in this one-party county in which they are virtually guaranteed reelection no matter what they do. Skrepenak did exactly what many of his democrat predecessors did before him. Namely, make nary a mention of any bad news until immediately after the election. Although, that does not suggest that he deserves a pass whereas this budget brouhaha is concerned.

And say what you will about Tim Grier’s actions, but if both sides are merely going to growl at each other and see where the financial fallout lands afterwards, that is completely unacceptable. At this point, what they are doing is playing with people’s lives, and this goes well beyond the 1,800 or so county employees the newspapers made mention of.

Project delays could cost city, Leighton says

Leighton said Wilkes-Barre resident Tim Grier’s complaints filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development could hold up these projects. Substantial time and resources have been devoted to the projects and progress has already been made in approved permits, the mayor said.

“Should this funding be denied to Luzerne County, my administration will be forced to halt these plans at a tremendous cost to the City of Wilkes-Barre,” Leighton said. “This will not only pose a financial burden for the city now, but also prevent us from reaping the much needed economic benefits that the projects promise for the future.”

This one troubles me.

Grier said he has found the majority of people are on his side. They agree “the brakes need to be put on this spending spree,” he said. People have offered to pay for his coffee and buy him lunch. His fellow college students have patted him on the back. Some people, including county employees, have recognized him in public places and have approached him to say thanks.

I saw the Times Leader poll, too. 96% blame it all on Skrep, while only 4% blame it on Grier.

Yeah, well, when the county shuts down, employees are furloughed, major capital projects come to a grinding halt, senior citizens are denied needed services, and needy children are put at greater risk, the days of free coffee will also come to a grinding halt.

Yep, those pats on the back will be fewer and farer between when damaging repercussions start hitting home, i.e., negatively impacting people’s lives. And the far-reaching impacts of a prolonged shutdown have probably not even dawned on the great majority of the central players in all of this. Yeah, when the bad news starts trickling down, I’m thinking that those hordes of card-carrying democrats that vote the straight party ticket will reserve most of their wrath for Tim Grier.

Those 15 minutes of fame will pass soon enough, as the possible devastating aftermath of this needless and regrettable impasse comes home to roost.

With that said, I think that Tim Grier will never, ever relent. He previously made one ill-advised crack about ruining some peoples Christmases. Apparently, he wants a smaller government no matter who has to suffer, while he enjoys his newfound celebrity. And if that is truly the case, finding a solution short of shuttering the county government falls upon Greg Skrepenak‘s hulking shoulders. He needs to get off of his high horse, admit that the ‘08 budget and the proposed deficit spending plan was ill-prepared, and find a way to end this frightening nonsense. He’s the top dog in this county, he made Grier’s challenge possible in the first place and it’s his alone to fix. And to do anything short of that would be a clear self-abnegation of leadership.

The next couple of weeks ought to make it crystal clear as to whether he’s our leader, or just the latest in a long string of democrat commissioners that do not see accountability as a prerequisite to being a county commissioner. It was his decision to sit on the county’s ‘07 budget shortfall until after the election. And it was his decision to make the county’s extravagant bond plans for ‘08 just vague enough to be challengeable.

So, I ask again. What’s Plan B, Greg? Will the county rethink it’s plan, secure a bond to cover the ‘07 debts, and move forward from there without a government shutdown? Or, will you continue to demonize Tim Grier, and then appeal the challenge to the budget, while countless people suffer as a direct result? Greg, is an unthinkable county shutdown an inevitability, or are you going to lead us away from such a reckless undertaking?

Plan B, anyone?

We’ll give Tim Grier the last word here today.

From today’s Citizens’ Voice:

From the e-mail inbox County needs to tell DCED what it wants to borrow for

12/12/2007

Editor:

Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak, in regards to a possible county government shut-down, was quoted in the newspaper recently as stating, “We have a very serious issue.”

All of the issues in county government are serious; Mr. Skrepenak is one of many at the Luzerne County Courthouse who are apparently just now figuring that out.

Sadly, I believe that Commissioner Skrepenak and the rest of his cronies think that this is some type of game, as they continue to treat this issue as a matter of politics rather than policy.

While American soldiers continue to die overseas for a government they believe in back home, Greg Skrepenak and political hacks like himself throughout Luzerne County continue to betray those individuals and their families.

Commissioner Skrepenak and the friends he hired ignored a policy the commissioner himself helped to create; they deceived us and bilked us out of tens of thousands of dollars so they could live like kings while the taxpayers were treated like peasants.

These morally bankrupt individuals continue to remain unapologetic and refuse to acknowledge the gravity of their mistakes.

Have I made mistakes in life?

Certainly.

Not a one of us is perfect. The best we can do is get up every day and try to be the best we can be.

Mr. Skrepenak, Mr. Hyder, Mr. Brace, and the rest of the crew at the Luzerne County Courthouse apparently get out of bed every day trying to figure out how to rip the rest of us off.

The petitions I submitted to DCED are clear.

Deny the county’s requests to borrow as they stand, demand that the county follow the law and tell us what it intends to borrow the money for, and force the county to follow the guidelines for borrowing unfunded debt which are clearly established by the legislature.

Interestingly, just as Commissioner Skrepenak refuses to accept responsibility for the debit card fiasco, he is now trying to side-step my request.

In another comment to The Citizens’ Voice staff, Mr. Skrepenak claims, “We’re confident we can dispute any argument made.” I realize he is being told by his handlers, “stick to your guns, admit no shortcomings, give them nothing,” but Commissioner Skrepenak’s continued allegiance to those who paid for his campaign rather than to those who pay his salary may ultimately prove to be his downfall.

Mr. Skrepenak fails to understand the simple fact that if he follows the law, in this case the Local Government Unit Debt Act, I will withdraw my petitions.

In fact, Commissioner Skrepenak, if you had done this from the beginning, it would not be such a grave issue today.

I never would have had to file a complaint.

This is now the quickest way to resolve this matter.

There is no need to ask Commissioner Urban or anyone else to help you come up with a solution. The solution already exists; you continue to exacerbate the problem by trying to skirt the law.

I encourage everyone in Luzerne County to call on their state legislators and firmly, but politely, demand that this problem be rectified immediately and correctly – by the DCED forcing the county to follow the law. Contact information for state house and senate representatives can be found here:

http://www.house.state.pa.us/

http://www.pasen.gov/index.cfm

Not only do I hope that the state will do the right thing and force the county to ask the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas for the permission to borrow unfunded debt as the law clearly states the county should do, I also hope that both state and federal law enforcement will finally announce that they are indeed investigating the rather apparent public corruption in the Luzerne County courthouse. For those interested in seeing a similar step, I encourage you to contact your state and federal law enforcement agents:

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett: (717) 787-3391

United States Attorney’s Office, Scranton: (570) 3484-2800

Additionally, I hope that those who are employed by Luzerne County realize that it is not I who is considering taking your paychecks away this month. There is one individual at the center of this mess who refuses to take responsibility and do the right thing: Luzerne County Commissioner Chairman Greg Skrepenak. To be frank, the best he could do now is resign. He is sinking fast, and he continues to drag Luzerne County down with him.

Although it appears that we may have to deal with the lies, deception, and politicking for another four years, perhaps we now have learned our lesson and in the future will ignore Mark Bufalino and the rest of the Luzerne County Democratic Party and their repeated requests to elect the mindless pawns they offer up for candidates.

Timothy J. Grier

Wilkes-Barre

Tim may have had the last word today, but it seems that the next move belongs to Greg Skrepenak.

Let’s all hope he chooses wisely.

‘Til next time.






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