Category Archives: Campaign 09′

CLARKE REPORT EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Mantura Gallagher

On Friday morning at the county courthouse, I conducted an exclusive interview with Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Mantura Gallagher.  Mrs. Gallagher requested my time because she took issue with parts of my recent article concerning the alleged fraud of custody conciliation officer Lynn Bressi and perceived diversionary tactics by Gallagher and Pottsville Republican and Herald publisher Henry Nyce. In the interest of fairness, I agreed to print Gallagher’s “clarifications” to allow the readers to decide for themselves what really happened.

Before getting to the interview, I just wanted to express my appreciation to Commissioner Gallagher for reaching out to me and wanting to tell her side to the story, instead of having family members send threatening e-mails to myself and my family, like some other public officials did. She was very candid and answered most of my questions straightforwardly with class and dignity.

Its not a secret that I had a lot of respect for Mrs. Gallagher before today because of my family’s relationship with hers and because of my dealings with her husband Jim. After today, I respect her even more. The questions posed below were not necessarily asked or answered in this order. We had a 45-minute conversation and bounced around quite a lot, but I placed it in this order for you to better follow along. Continue reading

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Filed under Campaign 09', County Government

Holman Officially Announces DA Bid

In a press statement released today, trial attorney Christine A. Holman officially announced that she will seek to unseat Schuylkill County District Attorney James P. Goodman:

FRACKVILLE (March 19, 2009) – Former prosecutor Christine A. Holman, Barnesville, will challenge incumbent James P. Goodman for Schuylkill County District Attorney.

 

“Our District Attorney has turned a blind eye to drug dealers, violent criminals, and illegal aliens in order to clear files from his desk,” said Holman. “We deserve a prosecutor who refuses to make plea deals the norm and who protects the citizens by putting criminals behind bars.”

 

Holman, a former Schuylkill County assistant district attorney, brings 13 years of courtroom experience into a race where Goodman’s lack of toughness on drug dealers will be issue number one.

 

“Jim Goodman has either dropped or reduced the charges of 48% of drug offenders arrested in Schuylkill County since 2006,” Holman stated. “In his campaign four years ago, Goodman promised to stop cutting deals with criminals, but he’s broken his word.”

 

Holman added, “As your District Attorney, I will say ‘No Deal!’ to drug offenders and violent criminals looking for easy time.”

 

Along with her running mate, county Sheriff candidate and former Pottsville City Chief of Police Dale Repp, Holman is committed to pursuing white collar criminals as diligently as she does violent and drug offenders.

 

She also takes issue with the fact that Goodman has not prosecuted the minimum amount of cases expected of the county’s top law enforcement official.

 

“For the $150,000 salary that we pay for the position, this county deserves a working district attorney,” Holman said. “I will not delegate the full throe of my prosecutorial responsibility to my assistants, rather, I will sit first chair on many of the major crimes that pass over my desk.”

 

Finally, Holman believes that the District Attorney has an obligation to work with other agencies in government to proactively combat crime. To do this, Holman has proposed the formation of a task force to fight illegal immigration and a commission to identify blighted or vacated properties that are hotbeds for crime.

 

Holman believes that the district attorney, the county sheriff, and municipal police forces can aid the US Department of Homeland Security in detaining and deporting illegal aliens by using their local resources to identify where these immigrants live, informing DHS when an illegal is detained for another crime, and coordinating raids on local businesses that are known to employee them.

 

A graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, Holman has operated a successful solo practice in Frackville for the past eight years that specializes in criminal defense, family law, and personal injury.

 

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Filed under Campaign 09', County Government, Local News, Uncategorized

A Conversation with Boots

hetherington

This weekend, I conducted a short e-mail interview with Barron “Boots” Hetherington, who announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for 124th district representative seat vacated by Senator-elect Dave Argall (R-29). Hetherington is the owner/operator B&R Farms in Ringtown and former GOP state committeeman, who has run unsuccessfully for a pair of public offices in the past two election cycles: Register of Wills in 2007 and re-election to GOP State Committee in 2008.

Clarke Report: Why are you entering this race? 

Boots Hetherington: I have dedicated my life to public service and this is a natural extension of my experience and abilities. 

CR: What experience do you bring to the table? 

BH: B & R FARMS – 29 years of experience managing a successful business in addition to providing employment and mentoring opportunities for local high school and college students.

Briar Creek Mutual Insurance – 6 years as a member of the board of directors with annual premiums of $4.25 million and an AM Best A+ rating.

PA USDA Farm Service Committee – 8 years as Chairperson, providing oversight for 50 statewide offices with 228 employees and an annul budget exceeding $18 million.

The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees – elected in 2006 by 220 statewide agricultural organizations.  The board manages a $3.4 billion annual budget and cares for the education and welfare of over 90,000 students.

CR: What will be your top three priorities if elected? 

BH:  1. Property Tax Reform – Totally eliminate property taxes as the source of school funding.

2. Spending Priorities – Local revenues have been diverted to other areas of the state.  Those funds must return to our district and work for the people of the 124th.

3. Education – Increase the quality and availability of education/training programs to create family sustaining jobs within our district.

CR: What differences exist between you and your chief competitor Jerry Knowles? 

BH: I have varied life experiences that I bring to the table.  I have worked as a substitute teacher, I’m a CDL licensed truck driver, I’m a small business owner, I have government experience at the local, state and federal levels.  In addition, I have a strong work ethic and possess farm family values.  I have a deep connection to the 124th district where my family has lived for over 150 years.

CR: There are many rumors swirling around about just how Harrisburg will redraw the legislative districts in 2010. One of the various scenarios supposedly being considered by Dave Argall is to remove Orwigsburg and West Brunswick from the 124th and place it in the 129thin order to secure a Tamaqua-area dynasty by removing potential future challengers like myself and Gretchen Sterns. Are you in favor of such of a plan?

BH: Although legislative re-districting is a possibility, it is not something that I can consider at the present time. My campaign is focused on serving the citizens of the 124th as it currently stands.  When the topic of re-districting comes to the table, I will focus on doing what is in the best interests of this district.  

CR: If you defeat Jerry Knowles, despite the fact that he will probably be endorsed by Argall, do you expect the full support of the Schuylkill GOP Committee?

BH: I am running a campaign to win the support of all people in the 124th District, not a campaign to defeat a single opponent.  The Schuylkill and Berks GOP has pledged its support to get behind the chosen candidate.

CR:  To what issues can you speak to northern Berks County voters that will allow you to carry that area?

BH: If I am worthy to receive the nomination of the Republican Party for the 124th District, I am committed to running a campaign that involves both Berks and Schuylkill counties
and serving the needs of all citizens in this district, regardless of their location relative to Interstate 78.  The issues of property taxes, education, jobs and infrastructure are common to the entire district.

CR:  If you had a choice of committee assignment in the House, what would it be? 

BH: Finance, Transportation, Agriculture and Rural Affairs in that order

I’ve met Boots on two different occasions. He is a very affable man, who is keenly knowledgeable about the issues, but what I think I like most is that he is straightforward and plain spoken. He doesn’t try to wow you with oratory in everyday conversation like other politicians do. Rather, he speaks to you as an ordinary man. One thing is for sure, we need more ordinary men in Harrisburg.

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Filed under Campaign 09', Local News

2009 Crucial Year for Pottsville GOP

Pottsville has always been a problem for the Republican Party. Forever a bastion for the lunch bucket democrat, the county seat is now a magnet for poor, minority transplants from Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia, and Manhattan, who just happen to also vote democrat. Its amazing what the construction of a few Section 8 housing complexes can do for democratic voter registration, huh?

Yet, even with this drastic disadvantage among registered voters (Pottsville democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 3 to 1), the city GOP committee has a unique opportunity to make some in-roads in the 2009 municipal elections. They just have to be smart about it.

The issue that killed Republicans in November was the economy. As we all know, it sucks. Our guys were in charge during the downswing, so our candidates took the hit. The same can happen to city democrats, but only if the GOP decides to do things a bit differently. You see, crime is up. Drug use is up. The side streets are a dump. Houses remain vacant. Businesses are leaving. Property values continue to plummet. And, of course, the pink elephant in the room . . . there aren’t any jobs to be had–ANYWHERE. This type of environment doesn’t bode well for any incumbent administration, no matter how well entrenched their party is. Add to that the fact that there won’t be any Barack Obama, Ed Rendell, or Mantura Gallagher at the top of the ticket this year and you have the perfect storm for a Republican insurgency. I believe that if the Pottsville Republican Committee specifically targets certain geographics, demographics, and issues, they can capitalize on the shortcomings of the city democrats in this piss poor political climate.

For starters, the GOP needs to find a new crop of candidates. It seems that the Republicans have been running the same five names every election cycle for the past decade. If they just took a chance on some new blood, it could pay huge dividends. Pottsville is a big city with lots of great people who would make excellent candidates. Go out and recuit them. Stop making people “pay their dues” for twenty years before putting them on a ballot. Retreading candidates who have lost school board elections or council races in past years, does nothing for the party except guarantee another loss.

Second, the East side and Jalapa (I hope I spelled that correctly) have zero representation in city government right now. Target those areas by finding a candidate who lives there and can speak to the issues that will resonate there. When given the chance, voters in those areas have proven to be very loyal to natives. So, how about we give them someone to be loyal to?

Then, speak to the issues that are important to those specific areas. Everyone hates drugs, except for hippies and drug dealers. Its not a left/right issue. Its an everyone issue. Pottsville has seen as stark rise in the methamphetamine and crack cocaine trade in the past five years. It has infiltrated the school system and has become a blight on certain areas of the city. Crack houses are popping up at an astounding rate and property values are plummeting equally fast. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a mayoral candidate who possessed experience fighting illicit substances and had a plan to exterminate the market? And don’t you think some conservative democrats who live on Peacock Street or in Yorkville may just respond to such a candidacy?

Finally, how can downtown business hope to be revitalized when there isn’t any parking available on Centre Street for store patrons. I don’t know many people who want to walk all the way from the Mahantango garage to Coney Island. Do you? There are so many buildings that are in disrepair and could easily be knocked down to make room for more parking spaces, but the city never wants to drop the hammer. As a result, local mom and pop shops continue to close, more people flock to the unemployment rolls, and the downtown remains lifeless.

These are only a few ideas to get started, but there is plenty more that can be done. Thankfully, for the first time in a long time, the city GOP has a leader who is actually open to new ideas like these. Tom Yarnell is an old war horse, but he is always looking for new tricks. If you have an idea or know of a good prospective candidate, don’t be afraid to stop him at Lisa’s Ladle or in Maroon’s and tell him your story. You just better be prepared to have a few beers before you leave. Tommy doesn’t do “A drink”.

He can’t do it alone, though. It is going to take a city-wide collaborative effort. If the GOP can find it within itself to change the way it looks at politics and the way in which in does business over the next few months, they might just be looking at a long overdue election night victory later this year.

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