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Fri, Oct 09, 2015

Mayoral candidate comes out swinging

Mayoral candidate comes out swinging

Luddy Fleming

Pittston City Mayoral Candidate Luddy Fleming isn’t too pleased with the way things are running in city hall and that’s why he wants to replace Joe Keating.

For example, Fleming says, “The city is in turmoil with no accountability to the budget.  The three minute rule was put in place after I asked two simple questions about the budget.”

Fleming further said while the rule states council has seven days to respond to a request, sometimes it takes a month or more for them to respond adding, “Sometimes they do not respond at all.”

City Clerk Ron Mortimer disagrees saying, “All requests to council have been answered within the seven days.”

As Mortimer booted up his computer, he used a request made by Wil Toole as an example. 

As he printed out the communication between he and Toole he said, “See, back in 2008 Wil Toole made a request.”

“He was answered within the time period.  He may not have been happy with our response, but he was answered,” Mortimer said.
Click here to view the response

Fleming has also taken exception to the City’s new engineer saying, “Mike Pasonic was the city’s engineer.  Now, Reilly, the new engineer’s hourly fee is double.”

“We’re very pleased with Reilly as our engineer,” Mortimer says.

“He is very prompt and responds immediately when needed,” Mortimer added.  “That’s something which is vital to the residents of the city.

“Besides being a top notch engineer,” Mortimer added, “he renovated the Dime Bank Building, pays taxes in the city and provides quite a few jobs.”

Probably one of Fleming’s biggest gripes is when he asked for copies of the city’s budget.  He provided paperwork for the request asking for a “compete summary budget for 2008 and planned 2009 budget.”

“They wanted to charge me $100,” Fleming said while pointing to the “Total cost $100” which was noted on the request.  He said the budget is no more than 40 pages per year. 

“Two year’s worth of budget should be no more than $40 at 50 cents per page,” Fleming said. He further noted state law says the city is only supposed to charge 25 cents per copy, not 50 cents.

Mortimer remembers the request but disagrees that the budgets were Fleming’s only request.

“Yes, he asked for the two budgets,” Mortimer said.  “But he also verbally asked us to provide copies of threes years worth of audits.  That’s why the initial cost was $100.”

Mortimer said he accommodated Fleming’s requested and did so at 25 cents per copy.

Another issue Fleming has is that the city won’t qualify for their TAN (Tax Anticipation Note) loan because the city has not completed their audits for 2006, 2007 and 2008. 

“First,” Mortimer said, “the city will probably not need to apply for the loan because we may not need it.”

“Next, when Mayor Keating took over,” he continued, “the city was behind on completing the audits to begin with.  Then, at the end of 2006 we had a glitch in our software and that put us behind even further.”

“All our audits should be completed in the very near future,” he said.

Finally, Fleming feels Mayor Keating should not be the mayor while holding his position with Senator Musto.

“According the ‘Hatch Act’ no state employee can hold an elected partisan position,” Fleming said. 

Fleming wrote a letter to W. Russell Faber from the Senate of Pennsylvania Office of the Chief Clerk asking that question.

In Faber’s response he writes, “Please be advised that the Hatch Act is a Federal Law applying to Federal employees.  It does not apply to Commonwealth employees. In addition, I am not aware of any state law that makes a blanket prohibition of hold a partisan elected position while being employed by the Senate of Pennsylvania.”

Fleming claims the rule does apply saying, “because federal funds are being allocated, Keating’s position should fall under the Hatch Act.”


Member Opinions:
By: Luddy_Fleming on 3/29/09
Joe, I would like to post an answer some of the responses. First, who is the top administrator Ron or Joe Keating. I would think Joe should be answering these questions, but again no time for the people. If there was a glitch I can under stand it, but for a city to not have 3 years of completed audits, I dont buy it. If the audits are not complete then how do we know if all money is accounted for and brag that the city has reduced its debt, how can you make a statement when you do not even know if all the books balanced. As far as the hatch act, there is a state hatch act for those who are not aware and I would be glad to provide a copy to anyone wishing one. The state hatch act is very clear, civil service employees of the commwealth may not participate in a partisian election nor hold a partisan office. Non civil employees are not permitted as well when state and federal funds are genereated or passed through the office they would work in. I was actually amazed to see that the chief Clerk Officer in the Senate office does not even know, kinda makes you wonder. As far as the Tan, let me ask this question, what if the city did need to utilize this possible loan, it is not available and the city may face issues with any number of issues including payroll, so lets guess at not needing it. As far as the requests, it took over 1 month to receive a requested answer in regards to DCED issues and that is fact. To all who read here at this site, I will not post or state any issue until I am confident I have all the facts and documentation to back it up, and if the current administration wishes to challenge me, they will not be happy with the result. There has been enough of excuses, taxpayers ignored and to much whats in it for me in this city. They need to stop dancing around, put their priorities in place, complete the annual and dced audits so that the next administration can start moving this city in the direction it needs to go and not yesterday like the current ticket....Luddy Fleming

By: diamante on 3/29/09
Is it just me or is this nothing more than a free ad?

By: SimpleJack on 3/29/09
Mr Fleming, Joe Keating is a friend of mine, I have worked with Joe Keating. Mr Fleming you are no Joe Keating....................

By: marioandretti on 3/29/09
Thank the lord himself that Mr. Fleming is no Joe Keating.
Thank God.

By: jonQpublic on 3/30/09
Luddy, Luddy, Luddy, did Terry Best write that diatribe for you?

By: Politico on 3/30/09
It's just you DIAMANTE, if you can't see the many facts that have been presented well it's time for the eye doctor my friend.

Second I will have to say that I have been at council meetings with this 3 minute rule and let me say that this was nothing more than the current administrations way of shutting people up. Honestly I don't even know why they have council meetings as it is very clear that this group doesn't care what the people have to say or think for that matter.

Another point to ponder is why can't the current administration answer questions at the scheduled council meetings? and the simple answer is they don't know the answers so if you ask a question they don't know the answer to (which are numerous) they will do a half baked job trying to find out in a week or so, and I have even heard a few people try and justify this by saying they only want to have an educated answer, and I say go to any other city and see if they can answer the most basic questions or if they need a week as well. SHAME on them it has been almost four years for some and much more for others yet they aren't able to answer questions at a monthly meeting, WOW I mean am I the only one that has a problem with that.

Keating has done a lot of credit taking but no accountability at all, and now he finds himself running for a job simply out of vanity, and the reason I can say this is because actions speak louder than words and when it comes to Keating’s actions to date they aren’t much louder than a mouse fart.

SimpleJack let me say thank god Flemming is no Keating because most of us are having a hard time dealing with the one we have and that is more then enough.

I implore people who care even just a little bit about our City to get out and Vote and make the much needed change because I for one can't stand another four years of this nonsense.

I will say one thing for Flemming and that is unlike the current administration he realizes that he has a hard job ahead of him and I have seen him educate himself on the Cities budget and expenses and I feel confident that not only is he the best candidate for this job but I bet you won't have to wait a week for a response to your questions nor will you be told to sit down after 3 minutes.

Pittston Proud!
Good luck Luddy we are pulling for ya buddy.

Hey Diamante was that another ad?

By: diamante on 3/30/09
No, not another ad...just typical Wil Toole claptrap

By: Enough on 3/30/09
Isn't Ron Montimer just doing his job? Why would Keating have to answer these questions? I'm confused.

By: Politico on 3/30/09
Enough, I am not sure if your really asking but here it goes. Do you believe that Morty is the one we should be asking questions? If you answer yes than what exactly is Joe Keating’s Job exactly? Aren't our mayor and council responsible for managing the budget and making the decisions vital to the cities business?

I also want to point out the bigger picture to you “Enough” and that is that no matter who you think should answer the questions about the city, NOBODY has an answer and not only do they admit not to having the answers but they ask you to give them a week to look into it and some people have had to wait even longer.

Can I just say this; people go to college for four years and earn a degree while learning many subjects in the process. Our mayor and council have had four years and some of them even more so how much time exactly is required to acquire the answers to some pretty basic questions.

Here is a sad fact, Pittston youth have been asking for some sort of Skate Park for probably 10 years or more and nobody listens until they come up with over 400 signatures. I think it is very possible that Mr. Mayor enjoys the quiet in his back yard and would keep the Pittston pool and surrounding area as quiet as he can for as long as he can.

I hope this answers your question or statement as it were.

By: SimpleJack on 3/30/09
NEWS FLASH>>>> Heard today that if Luddy and Terry win MR TOOLE will be back at 35 Broad. yeah......................

By: Robin on 3/30/09
Hey Diamante, you can poke all the fun you want at Wil Toole but the simple fact is that when he was the City Administrator, there were work sessions before each meeting and citizens got to speak on anything about the night's agenda and without interruption. They could also ask Mr Toole anything on any city subject and they got an answer right then and there. That's a fact! Then during the regular meeting, citizens again got to address Council and this time they could ask anything they wanted with regard to any city subject. Again, it was always Mr. Toole who answered and each question was answered with expertise. No body questioned Toole's knowledge of city government and again, that's a fact. I heard our new city Treasurer say that her staff told her that Wil Toole knew everything there was to know about city government and could do everybody's job. Ask her for yourself! And while your at it, ask the police, firemen or street department guys what they thought of Toole. They all want him back! You guys can take your petty politics and petty jealousies as they pertain to Wil Toole and go whistle. There are people who know first hand how he ran the city and how much he knew about the management of the city. Sticks and stones .................

By: marioandretti on 3/30/09
claptrap? Isn't that something I got in college?

By: SimpleJack on 3/30/09
Robin you seem to know a lot about the toole years. Were you there? Was there a mayor at this time or just a city clerk. I think that there was just a clerk. I seem to recall that there were scripted agendas. Be nice to everyone on the way up, you will see them on the way down. hay by the way you need to check out VLADIMIR IIYICH LENIN. TRUST ME ON THIS.

By: Luddy_Fleming on 3/31/09
This response is for SimpleJack. Should the great people of this city give me the oppurtunity to serve as their mayor, I will commit here and now and you may quote me, Will Toole will not be back at 35 broad street and there is not one bit of deception there. So whomever is telling you, they are wrong.

By: Terry on 3/31/09
Joe, as you know I try not to answer posts from individuals that berate me or my friends, this is not because I can't stand up to the political pressure or any other reason. It is because in most cases it's not worth being baited into a useless discussion.

The reason I will answer Simplejack is because he appears to know what I and my running mates are contemplating. Unfortuntely he is wrong. Wil Toole will not be considered for any position in Pittston City Government nor has he been considered.
As you know Wil and I have always been friends but never sat on the same side of the aisle politically until recently. I was critical of Wil in his last years at City Hall when Mike Lombardo was mayor and just recently found a new respect for a truly gifted public servant. I believe Wil has a true chance of becoming Luzerne Counties Controller as an Independent in the November General election. But, I re-iterate there is no place in city hall for Wil and he is not seeking one and wants none.
I do believe since the Municipal audits are not complete from 2006, 07, 08 (due April 1) a change in admin is needed with a professional in charge of book keeping as this impacts Pittston's ability to borrow or function properly. Mr. Alicene was removed as the Auditor when it had nothing to do with his performance. Mr. Alicene did a great job but was never given all he needed to complete the audits. He is still waiting for figures from 2006 to complete that year. It is the City administration holding the the information needed and not making it available. Mr. Alicene cannot do the books for them and then audit his own work (illegal and unethical). Throwing someone under the bus appears to be a standard operating proceedure for this administration.
People throughout Luzerne County are begging for transparency in Govt. This Administration has stifled the people and hidden plenty. The goal of Luddy and his team are to give city hall back to the people as they are the true owners.

Thanks for the time and space.
Terry Best

By: Terry on 3/31/09
Joe one last item for the Pittston Political crowd that keep bringing up nepotism in PA School District. There have been many quoted as saying that all school directors have family members working in the district. WRONG
I have no ( not one) family member working in any capacity at PA, LCCC,Sanitary Authority,LIU,Vo-Tech,Pittston Housing Authority or Luzerne County. I am proud of that as I believe that it is an issue when public officials are negotiating contracts for the taxpaying public. GO HOME RULE

By: SusieQ on 3/31/09
Terry - thanks for convincing me of who I am voting for in May. Any friend of Wil Toole is an enemy of Pittston City!

Your family members are to busy running for politcal office to seek out real jobs. Furthermore, if you could get one board member to agree with you on any one issue then maybe you could get a political job for a family member.

By: Bobboo on 3/31/09
SusieQ, Now that's funny! You think that Terry should stop being a taxpayer advocate, climb into the slimy bed of school board politics to get a family member a job. So in your opinion, should his son in law school drop out for a custodial position or do you think his son at Penn Sate would be better qualified to clean floors? How deep can you reach or I should ask, can you reach lower than you can stoop?

Really cool remark about Toole's friends being enemies of the city. From what I hear, every employee of the city must be an enemy in wolves ...... oops, I mean employee clothing. You're a hoot!

By: marioandretti on 3/31/09
SuzieQ, did i just hear you accuse Terry Best of NOT committing nepotism like everyone else in Luzerne County?
C'mon now...Is that really such a bad thing?

By: jonQpublic on 4/1/09
Susie...LOL...and AMEN

By: diamante on 4/1/09
boboo you seem to know a lot about wil toole and terry best...really makes a feller wonder...

By: SusieQ on 4/1/09
Bobboo - based on what I presume to be your physical stature you cannot phyisically reach or stoop for anything.

Terry Best felt his son was qualified for state rep before even finishing law school. Based on his credentialling Mike Lombardo is the right choice for city council; after all he graduated from Law School and has 5+ years of experience. Oh I almost forgot, 10+ years as an EMT/firefighter, 5+ years on Tomato Festival Committe, and 2+ years on YMCA board.

By the way, wasn't Wil Toole run out of town on rails when Mayor Mike Lombardo ran a campain against him? Why is he all of a sudden relevant? What has he been doing the last 10 years? I'm sure Bobboo will be able to answer that, he is obviously very close to the situation.

By: TTnPA on 4/1/09
Talking about qualifications and experience. Let me explain some of Terry's. These are what we know of that most people ACTUALLY involved with their city will already know about, but I think they are worth mentioning.
30 year lifetime member of the Pittston City Fire Dept. (Niagra Engine Co.), one of the first EMT's to serve the Greater Pittston Ambulance, Pittston Area School Board member elected to his second term, member of the 3rd district Democratic committee, Luzerne County Executive Committee, has run a well established business for 20+ years with employees whose health benefits HE pays, a member of the Greater Pittston and Greater Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce. Other great things Terry is attributed too can include, volunteering his property on Main Street to hold Tomato Festival meetings. And most importantly, for the "Q" public, he volunteers to spray the Tomato Festival lot each year for insects so you could eat in peace without ants crawling up your leg making you more miserable than you already are.
I am sure there are other affiliated memberships he is a part of as well. More than likely, too many to post here. Maybe someone else knows of others and could post them for us.

By: Bobboo on 4/2/09
diamonte, Why wonder how things are learned or known. All you have to do is talk to people.

SusieQ, Be nice, all I did was to comment on nasty remarks. Yes I did say that Toole would be welcomed back by city employees and I've heard that said by several of the employees first hand. Pittston is a small town and because people say nasty things about any individual does not make it so.

The personal attacks on Wil Toole makes me wonder just who these people really are and what involvement they have had with Toole that they despise him so? I stopped responding to things said on this site because the comments were just plain nasty and obviously personal. I find no pleasure in bashing individuals just because they try to do what they feel is good for their community. What I would really like to see is everyone who throws stones at people's public efforts, print an accounting of their own personal involvements and public good that they have accomplished. It certainly takes less effort to criticize than it does to accomplish! Bye!

By: jonQpublic on 4/2/09
Hey, TTnPA, just because he is active and progressed in calendar years doesnt make him good choice either!

By: barb on 4/2/09
Let's get this CITY election out of high school, te he! . I have a solution, elect BARB Zangre to PITTSTON city council and She will keep them all honest. She will also make sure this City has a CITY park including a skatepark, POOL, spray park,sports facilities, and a Playground for the entire family(the view will be divine).

By: Ram1 on 4/2/09
Why don't all the Mayorial candidates and Council Candidates get behind Al Akulonis for Prothonotary? He's one of our own. At least we can agree on someone instead of this bullshit fighting in the last 20 articles.
I'd love to see Al get a boost from all the candidates.

By: Bobboo on 4/2/09
Barb, I admire your ambitions and agree that all you mention would be wonderful as well as having a devine view. Your plans may be a bit ambitious but then again, I don't really know what plans you have or the debth of the research you've done to accomplish all this.

This is a very interesting and sincere question. I'm just curious, how much will all of this cost and where will the money come from. I find your plans very interesting and would like to support your efforts.

By: barb on 4/3/09
The money to restore Cosgrove park and others has been budgeted. There was an annual budget meeting that was legally announced in the classifieds (no I did not see the notice either, a concerned citizen announced it on this site). Ilook like if we get the grant, the city has the funds to match it in the budget-plus. After attending the DCNR grant seminar I volunteered to coordinate the Cosgrove Park project (a coodinator was highly recommended at the seminar),then twice publicly requested City Council for a meeting.
To date I am still in limbo and the DCNR grant application is due Apr.22.

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