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Just Tell Us What Happened

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

How soon we forget.

But that’s exactly what most public officials want from voters and taxpayers– for otherwise good citizens to remain lazy, gullible and absent-minded.

The file in the Jim Gibbons death settlement is still missing, by the way. Somebody in the Lackawanna County Clerk of Judicial Records office either lost it or somebody stole it. Detectives from the district attorney’s office are supposedly still investigating.

If things go according to plan, prospective judge and current magistrate Gibbons will be the newest member of the power elite to take the bench. And he likely won’t have to answer our questions about the man he killed almost 40 years ago when he slammed into the young husband and father of three who was crossing Cedar Avenue. Gibbons told the police officer who arrived on the scene that he had just dropped off federal Judge Richard Conaboy at his home. Without witnesses, the officer took Gibbons at his word about the accident and didn’t even give him a breath test.

Conaboy, by the way, failed to return my recent phone call asking to speak with him about the night of the accident. I figure that a man as powerful as Conaboy, whose name appears in the police accident report, would do everything in his power to answer legitimate questions that could cause doubt about his and Gibbons’ character and suitability for the bench.

Where were they before the accident? Had Gibbons been drinking? Did police interview Conaboy after the accident to confirm that Gibbons had, in fact, dropped him off at home? What was Gibbons mental and physical state at the time?

Conaboy has failed to return my calls in the past. I once called to ask how a federal judge, bound by a strict code of conduct that prevents “invidious” discrimination, would be part of an ethnic organization that bars women from its membership rolls and annual dinner. As past president of the Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and still active in its operation, Conaboy  has great power to change the segregationist oppression of women – including political candidates who are banned from the dinner that draws U.S. senators and governors while their male opponents are given free rein to campaign at the dinner.

Gibbons refuses to speak with me about the matter as well,

But few people seem willing to take any action to demand accountability from Conaboy or Gibbons, Conaboy’s law clerk at the time of the accident whose father was a colleague of Conaboy’s on the federal bench.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane also refuses to speak with me about a matter of grave importance Pennsylvania’s first elected Democrat and female attorney general has not yet spoken publicly about a secret meeting I reported last week that she attended in 2009 with admitted criminal and former powerful state senator Bob Mellow, who is serving a 16-month sentence in federal prison on public corruption charges.

Kane is now prosecuting Mellow on state public corruption charges that, if proven, could put him in jail for life.

Kane met with Mellow in his office to put his mind at ease that she would not challenge him for his Senate job, even though she had told many people that she would. I attended a small meeting and a subsequent party where she vowed to upset the king of public corruption. Then Kane mysteriously and suddenly withdrew, refusing to explain to most supporters her real reason for quitting.

Her husband’s family members, who run a trucking company with a multi-million dollar state contract hauling liquor, had pressured her to pull out, she said privately. They worried that Mellow would take revenge and that they might lose the contract. Family members dropped a heavy guilt trip on Kane, telling her that Northeastern Pennsylvania jobs were at stake, as well as the family business, a source said. A Teamster affiliated Philadelphia-area trucking company wanted the contract and Kane family members worried that Mellow might apply political muscle to give the business to them, the source said.

So Kane bowed before the altar of power and gave up her dream.

Kane has failed to respond to my request for an interview. I called the private cell phone number she once gave me, a number where I reached her previously, but a message explained that “if you are calling for Kathleen” you have the wrong number. A telephone message and personal email left for rookie communications director Joe Peters also went unanswered.

So I forwarded the column I wrote about the matter to several members of the Capitol press corps. Maybe they can get answers – assuming they’re interested, of course.

And, last but not least, I forwarded to the Inspector General at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, two columns I wrote about some missing money at WVIA, the local public broadcast affiliate Station fixture Bill Kelly told me last year that board members and station executives, including him, decided not to call police or even alert CPB officials when they discovered the approximately $12,000 in missing cash. Instead they called the retiree./suspect and asked him to give it back. He was thrilled that police were not called and WVIA executives – including board members who all signed off on the secret deal – were pleased that no bad publicity came their way from supporters concerned that WVIA could not keep track of their own money let alone donors’ cash.

Everybody signed a confidentiality agreement and they all lived happily ever after.

Kelly also now refuses to return my calls.

Yes, it’s easy to forget, even though I broke all three of these news stories just last month.

So, once again, I encourage you to remember.

As always, the restoration of the public trust depends on our willingness to confront the past in order to save the future.


Tags :  
Locations : Northeastern PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
People : Bill KellyBob MellowJoe PetersKathleen KaneRichard Conaboy

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