Category Archives: Paul Kanjorski


“Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more”

from Bruce Springsteen’s  My Home Town

Joe Leonardi

I am planning a move back into my hometown of Pittston, PA, with that I re-post the following column that appeared in the Pittston Sunday Dispatch a few years ago.

During my run for Congress our grass roots, shoe leather campaign brought us to downtowns all over NEPA.   Eventually one of those tours brought us to the town where I was born and raised.  When we hit Pittston the usual meet and greet was enhanced by me giving a guided tour of my hometown.  I noticed I was continually saying, “and over there used to be this, and over there used to be that.”  “In that vacant lot was this and that parking lot used to be that. “  I have to admit, a tear touched my eye as I realized all that has been lost since my youth.  Then a smile touched my face as I realized all the possibilities.

What went wrong?  Well in Northeast Pennsylvania the answer is easy.  We were a one industry region for a long time. When the Knox Mine disaster deposed King Coal, not only mining jobs were lost, but all the jobs and industries that supported anthracite fell away.

After Knox the next industry to dominate Pittston was the garment industry.  We had numerous dress factories that were teeming with work.  So much work that many women sewed from home. Then the next knock down came in the form of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA for short.  When NAFTA was being bandied around I was one of its most vocal supporters. I laughed heartily when Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot spoke of the giant sucking sound that would be heard throughout the land.  Well if you want to see the aftermath of that giant sucking sound, go to Pittston.

Now, on a smaller scale, it is about to happen again. With the closing of Seton Catholic the downtown will loose those that work for and attend the school.  Once again, a stinging jab to the fortunes of good old Pittston.

It is easy to sit back and identify what went wrong. The breakfast counters, barbershops and bars are full of those more than willing to point out who or what was responsible.  For the most part they are pretty accurate, well maybe not the folks in the bar at 2:00AM, but I digress.

What can we do to make it better? What made a smile touch my face as a tear touched my eye? What gives me hope for Pittston?    Possibilities of a resurgence in downtown Pittston, that’s what.  Downtown Pittston has many advantages:

One – It is centrally located between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.
Two – The Susquehanna runs along side it.
Three – It has relatively easy access to interstate 81, access that can be made                    easier.
Four – It has good infrastructure, a great fire department and police force.
Five – It is full of good, honest, hardworking people.
Finally, for the sake of this discussion anyway, it has buildings and land.

Perhaps it is time to take a new line of attack regarding downtown redevelopment.  Past thinking has always been to grow downtowns we must lure businesses, usually retail, to the downtown.  I say we take a new approach.  Let’s turn downtown Pittston into a middle to upper income residential area.  We need to encourage investors, builders and developers to take to the downtown and create townhomes, condominiums and apartment buildings.  When these buildings are in place and people are given incentive to live there, then the specialty shops will come. The boutiques, gourmet restaurants, cafes, professional offices and such will move in to service and supply the new populace.  We can make Pittston an oasis of residential and specialty businesses smack in the middle of a great old coal town.  (And we should never be ashamed of our coal mining roots, but that’s for another column)

A different idea?  Maybe, maybe not?  However, we need to start thinking outside the box.  We must create a strong incentive for people to want to come downtown. In the process perhaps we can start a new economy so our graduating children can stay….in our hometowns.

Joe Leonardi


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Filed under Coal, Coal Miner, Democrat, Democratic, Northe East PA, Northeast PA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Paul Kanjorski, Pennsylvania, Pittston, Steve Corbett, Sue Henry

Why Lou Barletta Should Not Run For Congress

“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” President George W. Bush

DCCC cash on hand $46,494,438.30
NRCC cash on hand $22,594,563.55

* as of Oct. 2007

Why Lou Barletta Should Not Run For Congress
by: Joe Leonardi

Republicans are more than likely going to lose more seats in 2008. Throughout the country President Bush has destroyed our party unity. All you have to do is look at the cash on hand and donations coming into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee compared to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Mayor Lou Barletta — this is not the time, in a democratic district, to take on a democratic incumbent.

To break it down:

– According to FEC filings the Barletta for Congress committee is still in debt about one hundred fifty thousand dollars. Kanjorski’s committee has over 1.2 million dollars on hand. No matter what Lou raises, he is still over 1.3 million dollars down.

– The DCCC is not going to let a senior house member go without a major fight. The money that the DCCC will pour into the 11th will be astronomical. The NRCC will not have the money to fight back.

– Lou has made quite a splash with his stance on illegal immigration. However, Congressman Tom Tancredo has been more vocal and more effective. Tancredo actually helped kill the amnesty bill in the Congress. Has that translated into more support for his presidential bid? If immigration was the end all and be all of national politics, Tom Tancredo would be a top tier candidate in the presidential primary race. Is he?

– The big issues against Kanjorski are nepotism and cronyism. In Luzerne County the voters simply do not care. The money to the Kanjorski nephews was an issue in 2002 and 2006. Cronyism was an issue in the Luzerne County Commissioners race. However each and every time the incumbent democrat won. The fact is, that in Luzerne County, the voters don’t care about cronyism.

The 11th congressional district is more than just Luzerne County.

– Lackawanna County’s republican precincts went democratic in the last commissioner’s race. Granted, many of these precincts were in the 10th, but that only emphasizes the dissatisfaction. Most precincts in the 11th are democratic. If they are angry with republicans, does anyone think, that over one issue they are going to turn republican?

– Monroe County, for the first time in years, has elected democratic majority commissioners.

– Carbon County is a democratic stronghold. Kanjorski is very highly thought of there.

– Columbia County, which is probably the most conservative county, has strongly supported congressman Kanjorski. He has currently promised a levy system on the banks of the river. His seniority, being a member of the majority party and his accomplishments with the levy system up river, will all but assure continued support.

– On two major issues; abortion and gun control, Congressman Kanjorski is solidly in line with the voters in his district. He has received high ratings from the National Right to Life Committee and National Rifle Association. These are huge issues in Northeast Pennsylvania, and with no difference between candidates, most are likely to stick with their party.

– There is no conservative at the top of the republican ticket. Translated — on election day conservatives will stay home. The myth that Hilary Clinton will push conservatives to the polls is one that should not be counted on. If anything, after eight years of President Bush, it is my belief that Democrats will turn out in force to ensure the election of, along with a democratic house and senate, a democratic president.

– Finally, the Mayor’s experience is in the executive branch. In my opinion, Lou Barletta should run for either Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Congress would be a waste of his leadership qualities and abilities. In the House of Representatives he becomes one voice in a sea of four hundred thirty five. He will be a freshman in the minority party. He is not going to be given any committee assignments to raise his profile. If anything, with the democrats in control, he will be minimized and probably never get anywhere near a committee that has anything to do with immigration. Additionally, the democrats will likely cut off funds to much of his district. By freezing out “Congressman” Barletta, it ensures that in two years the seat will go back to the Democrats.

Mayor Barletta is a good, decent honorable man. If he chooses to run he will have my vote. However, presently he possesses secure, salient, powerful political capital. If he opts to misspend it — it will be Lou Barletta’s parting, political swan song.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under Congress, Congressman, Conservative, Democrat, Democratic, Hilary Clinton, Lou Barletta, Northe East PA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Paul Kanjorski, President Bush, Republican

The Crap Catching Cupola

Throughout the Susquehanna River watershed, aging sewer systems discharge enormous
volumes of raw or poorly treated sewage, which eventually flow into the Chesapeake
Bay. Unless local, state, and federal lawmakers invest in prevention and cleanup, the Susquehanna will remain among the nation’s dirtiest rivers and more and more of the Chesapeake Bay will become a dead zone.
Summary from American Rivers’ Web Site


The Crap Catching Cupola
By: Joe Leonardi

The preposterous proposal of damming the Susquehanna River has been floated by Congressman Paul Kanjorski for years. On Earth Day one man

stood on the Market Street Bridge to Show his passion for stopping this obscenely ridiculous idea. During my run for Congress I wrote an editorial and filmed an internet commercial concerning damming the river. Recently I wrote a letter to the editor praising Don Williams and calling out a local talk show host who claims to be an environmentalist but supports the dam project. This dam project needs to be stopped, spread the word and help save the most endangered river in America.

Thank you.

Here is the link to the commercial, and yes that is what it looks like floating in the river:

First the letter and then the editorial:

Dear Editor,

Susquehanna River advocate Don Williams, during his radio appearance on Friday April 20th, as expected was right on the money concerning the proposed inflatable dam project. I was busy with patients and didn’t get a chance to call The Sue Henry Show, but all in my office were tuned in and not a one could understand the practical purpose of visiting the Grim Reaper upon our free flowing river.

I was surprised that the local, paternal paragon of the environmental movement, WILK’s Kevin Lynn, didn’t call in to support Don. Hang on a minute, I forgot — it seems that Kevin, who constantly cajoles that worldwide warming is going to eradicate Earth, is a strong supporter of the the fact-defying fecal farce. You would think that the gung-ho, global Gore supporter would embrace our Susquehanna Sentinel and help Mr. Williams save our regal river from the sludge stopping, destruction delivering, pumped-up pollution pocket. However, in classic do as I say not as I do liberal language, the worldly wordsmith props up the pungent project of his pet politician. Thus, Mr. Lynn’s convenient crusading for the endangered environment falls fast by the wayside in an effort to ensure the development of the crap catching cupola.

The verbose, venomous, carbon cursing curmudgeon, who several times per week drives his smog spewing automobile from Harvey’s Lake to Pittston Township to Scranton and back to Harvey’s lake, defends the damaging dam. How could the hypocritical harbinger, who wants us all to change the way we live, but chooses not to reduce his own carbon footprint by living closer to his employment endeavors, not help defeat the dam? Would any other exemplary environmentalist, insanely support the halting of mother natures cleansing perpetual motion of our sullied Susquehanna? Of course not!

I still wonder what color the sky will be in this inflatable fantasy world. Hopefully strong determination, intelligence and common sense will ensure we never find out.

Joe Leonardi


I’m not sure where the idea of damming the Susquehanna originated, but it is an idea that must cease to exist. The following are but a few of my many reasons for wanting to terminate this dam project.

1. Basic science. Rivers cleanse themselves through perpetual motion. Why in the name of science would anyone halt the essential, healing motion of a polluted river?

2. The Butler Mine Tunnel. From the EPA Web site “In 1979, an oily discharge coming from the tunnel created an oil slick on the river.”

“The oil contamination was then traced to the illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals into a four-inch borehole located 3½ miles from the outlet of the tunnel. The borehole was found to drain into the Butler Mine system.” Interestingly, there was another discharge in 1985, approximately one year after the discharge monitors were deemed no longer necessary and removed.

Does illegal dumping continue today? Possibly. Commercials still air from time to time asking people not to dump into bore holes. Obviously there is no predicting when or if there will be another discharge, but if there is, how fast will the contaminants settle in a motionless river?

Do you really want your children exposed to a “potential human risk” recreating in this contaminated lake?

3. Combined Sewer Outflows. According to the American Rivers web site there are “16 sewage outflows that pour untreated human waste into the very reach of the river where the current would pool behind the dam.”

Now we have untreated human waste and contaminants from the Butler Mine Tunnel! Who will be held responsible if someone gets sick?

4. Potential flooding. I testified at the hearing at King’s college. We were assured that in the event of flooding the dam could be deflated in 20 minutes. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad I don’t live downstream. Can you imagine a 450 acre, 4½ mile long lake rushing over your community? For the sake of argument, what happens if the river crest is underestimated? What will happen to upstream communities? We reside in a flood zone. The wrong answer could make us forget Agnes ever happened.

5. Damming the river is not necessary. I am astonished to be told, that unless we dam the river we cannot utilize it. Well I’m sorry but that is just plain old hogwash. A free-flowing river can be just as vital a community centerpiece as any lake.

6. A tourist mecca? We need to honestly examine what we are being sold. With our proximity to the Poconos, the shore, Atlantic City, the Finger Lakes, New York and Philadelphia are we to believe that a polluted, man-made, mini-lake is going to become the tourist destination of the northeast?

7. Political will. I’ve heard that this may create the political will to clean the river. Well, that is flat out the sorriest statement I have ever heard about past and current leaders. The free-flowing Susquehanna River is our heritage and plain and simple it must be saved.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under American Rivers, Congressman, Inflatable Dam, Kevin Lynn, NEPA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Paul Kanjorski, Sue Henry, Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre