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Writer believes judges need to go

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. claims he saw nothing, heard nothing and knew nothing about the injustice occurring in the courts of Luzerne County. I don’t believe him.

I do believe that he would do anything to save his $157,000-a-year job, as would his fellow judge, Tom Burke.

Terrorists at Guantanamo Bay had more rights than children did in Luzerne County. How would you feel if it were your child who was lied to, tricked and unjustly sent to camp?

Olszewski said the juvenile hearings took place a half mile away in another building. How could he hear?

How did an advocacy group more than 100 miles away in Philadelphia hear enough to file lawsuits on behalf of more than 500 children?

Either Olszewski is lying when he says he didn’t know, or he is telling the truth and is therefore too stupid to be retained as a judge.

Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. and Thomas Burke have failed us. They have failed to protect us. They have failed to protect our children.

Now it is election time and they want you to know them as “Peter Paul” and “Tom.”

After they win retention, they’re back to being “Your Honor,” and we the people are back to being nobodies.

In this lawyer’s opinion, Judge Peter Paul Olszewski and Judge Thomas Burke do not deserve to be retained as judges.

Gas drilling needs public scrutiny

I am totally against natural gas well drilling in our area. I always have been, but with all the dangerous spills that have been occurring in our backyard, I wish the public would actually look on the Internet for themselves to see the dangers.

These gas wells need to be regulated more aggressively to keep uninformed people from signing on with empty heads and only dollar signs in their eyes.

Tax gas drilling to offset impact

The recent chemical spills at natural gas drilling sites in Susquehanna County and subsequent enforcement taken by the state Department of Environmental Protection against Cabot Oil and Gas Co. underscore the need for a smart approach to drilling in Pennsylvania.

As drilling activity continues to ramp up, more staff is needed to adequately monitor and enforce environmental laws.

DEP did the right thing in taking strong action, but the damage to local streams and wetlands already has been done. A severance tax on natural gas production would provide the state with additional revenue to conduct necessary monitoring, enforcement and restoration. Yet politicians negotiating the state budget are scrapping the severance tax in favor of opening up more state forest lands to drilling.

This is simply the wrong approach.

As these spills show, environmental harm from the drilling will be felt. It is only fair to ask the industry to pay its fair share to help offset environmental and local community impacts from drilling. The environmental scars left by historic coal mining in Pennsylvania are well documented. This time, we need to be wiser in the development of our energy resources.

We cannot afford to leave our children with another costly legacy of environmental damage. Enacting a severance tax, keeping our state forest lands off limits to wholesale drilling, and requiring the revenues generated from natural gas taxes and leasing to be invested in conservation are smart ways to balance the budget and protect our natural heritage.

Taste of Success toasts JA program

Last year the average household in the United States carried nearly $8,700 in credit card debt. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 typically have credit card balances averaging $1,465. The desire to succeed is what drives us, but living outside our personal financial situations can cause family and personal crisis. Compounded across an entire nation, these crises have served as major contributors to the recent economic issues plaguing the United States.

Through Junior Achievement’s classroom and on-site education programs at the JA Mericle Family Center for Enterprise Education in Pittston Township, students are given the tools they need to succeed from economic and financial literacy standpoints. Through a combination of classroom instruction and capstone projects, the organization works to ensure students have a basic understanding of personal finance.

To help celebrate the organization and honor its volunteers, the organization is holding its annual Taste of Success from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at The Genetti Hotel & Conference Center, Wilkes-Barre. The event brings together vendors from fine wineries, restaurants and shops throughout the region. Attendees will experience “taste” in the literal sense while sampling gourmet delicacies and fine wines, as well as helping to provide our region’s youth with the tools to succeed in the future.

Cost is $25 per person, or four tickets for $100 -- a worthwhile investment in the financial stability of our future leaders.

For more information, call (570) 602-3600 or purchase tickets online at JATaste.com.

Don’t just dismiss grassroots groups

I want to add some thoughts on the grassroots organization ACORN for your consideration.

When corporations organize, or when the Better Business Bureau, the Women’s Auxiliary or any number of more mainstream factions take it upon themselves to combine forces, it seems to be OK with most Americans. But when poor people or people of color organize, they are almost always seen as some sort of subversive organization, or even communists.

Even as someone who has a little experience at political organizing, I confess that I have to stop myself from thinking, “Just who do these people think they are?” I mean, really, it’s so sewn into our collective psyche that poor and disadvantaged people should be invisible and just shut up, that it’s almost axiomatic that we should ridicule them. And when they do make inroads, they become a target: of the FBI, political ideologists of different persuasions and stripes, conservative pundits, what have you.

Now, ACORN definitely has some problems. Some of them endemic to an organization populated by people who might be inarticulate and who do not have that communications degree, journalism degree or whatever. But I’ve worked with some of these people. For the most part they are street-savvy, really energized and reality-oriented. And what they lack in finesse, they more than make up for in dedication to their cause.

I think we need more of that in this country, not less. And if things further decline in this country (as they very well might), who among us can say with any certainty that we would not find ourselves advocating for ourselves when no one else will? What goes around, comes around.

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