Back to  R&R 2019



    RANTS  &  RAVES         March-April, 2019
    _______________________________________






    Hark!
    Timmy, Lassie, in the middle of the road  
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but note of a much needed chuckle over morning coffee,
    reading a commentary from former state house representative Tim Mahoney, confirming at
    least the first part of recent weeks rumor mill, that he kissed the Democratic Party goodbye
    and now is an Independent voter. Read More.

    "Quote Of The Day" as an incumbent miserably flunks "Available
    Funding 101,"  flunks public re-test by refuting a challenger's fact... or tries to
    hide $150 million of opportunity for favored supporters   
    "It is sad that an elected commissioner cannot correctly state the correct amount of
    opportunity zones in our county. Each zone carries the worth of $150 million. We have two,
    Mr. Vicites. The difference between the reality and what Mr. Vicites said is $150 million
    versus $300 million in federal monies for investments. Does he not care? Does Mr. Lohr not
    care? It would appear so, as they misstated facts, played politics as usual, and pushed their
    double down agenda that has failed."
    Jacob Ely, in social media statement made following the candidate's debate, sponsored by the
    Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, held at Penn State Fay Campus, in which Ely spoke of the
    two federally funded, separate tracts of land targeted for federal funds and Vicites later criticized in
    incorrect correction that there's just one federally designated Opportunity Zone in the county

    "Must be one subject -- Trump's Opportunity Zone funding last year -- that (Fayette County
    Commissioner Angela) Zimmerlink didn't mentor the boys in."
    Pete's mom, in from Florida, commenting on Vicite's apparent ignorance of another possible $150
    million in federal revitalization monies available, while waiting for her breakfast at the diner


    FRI staff has friends in high places?
    RANTS that charges were dropped on staff at a Fayette Resources group home, charged
    recently with a few hundred counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and
    other charges while bathing a woman who requires total care.

    At arrest, the staff, who has beaucoup courthouse and political pull, reportedly, told police
    he touched the woman indecently to promote bowel movements. It is unknown whether
    another disabled resident reported the man, whether a co-worker reported him, or whether
    he initiated disclosure to the state police.

    RANTS to any person who helped get the matter dropped. RANTS that no advocates for the
    defenseless woman cared to bother the courts. Where are all those professional advocates
    who just a few months ago wanted to tar and feather someone for kissing the cheek of a
    man with cerebral palsy? (25 Apr 19)


    In death penalty case
    DA running unopposed for re-election, flunks
    Metric Measurements 101
    RANTS, again, that the county district attorney for three years sought the death penalty for
    parents of a two-year-old because he, apparently, did not understand metric measurements
    and responded as though the child was tortured down from 30 pounds to 10 pounds before
    she passed.

    RANTS because three years passed with the couple being denied bail and public believing
    that the parents willfully, intentionally and deliberately withheld food and tortured their
    child, who died at 28 pounds, within the normal body weight range for a child her age.

    RANTS that, again, the county district attorney willfully and intentionally filed a notice three
    years ago to the courts that he would seek the death penalty out of inexcusable ignorance,
    because he didn't know the difference between grams and pounds.

    Even bigger RANTS, yes, that it took him three years after filing the notice to seek the death
    penalty to review all the paperwork and realize his shameful mistake. (19 Apr 19)

    DA folds on 2-year vow to seek death penalty
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but acknowledgement that wide-spread regional shock was felt
    today when the Fayette County District Attorney sent his assistant to court to cancel his
    2017 notice to seek the death penalty in the already now three-year-long homicide case of
    Michael Wright, set to go to trial next month. Read More.



    Group home staff charged with sexual assault
    RANTS that trusted, long-time staff at a county group home agency is charged with sexual
    assaulting a disabled elderly woman with mental retardation and cerebral palsy, regularly,
    for over six years.

    RANTS that someone so trusted "told investigators he massaged the woman to help
    stimulate her to have a bowel movement," as per the Trib's piece, "Uniontown man
    charged with indecent assault of disabled woman."

    Yes, the accused has a family now suffering because of his actions, but nobody who
    victimizes someone so vulnerable for his own sick kicks, over such a long period of time,
    deserves a pass.

    RAVES of hope that his strong political connections in Fay don't pull strings to conveniently
    make this all go away. (17 Apr 19)

    Lohr's signs defy state requirements, common
    sense
    RANTS that at least one political candidate just can't seem to grasp the meaning of basic,
    straight forward state transportation requirements for the placement of election campaign
    signs outside restricted state right of way areas. Read More.

    Autistic 18-year-old restrained at jail
    RANTS that county jail sources state that an 18-year-old disabled male with Autism, who
    came to jail after an argument at his personal care living home,  is incarcerated under
    suicide watch in a turtle suit.

    RANTS that it happened again to someone with developmental disabilities... and that it, in
    all likelihood, will happen again in the future with another. RANTS that disabled ones such
    as this 18-year-old living in supervised personal care homes end up on a bad day tossed
    out and into the basement of the county jail in turtle suits so quickly and so pitifully. (12 Apr
    19)  

    Fay judge sued for civil right's violation as
    former DA
    RANTS hearing a federal court's strong words in denying a current Fayette County judge's
    motion to dismiss a civil suit against her for improper prosecution and civil right's violations
    from when she was a district attorney, in a 2006 homicide trial.

    As per The Daily Courier's "F.C., judge to appeal federal court decision," a woman who
    served 11 years in prison for homicide before being released and supported with a case
    review and appeals by The Innocence Project, in the federal court's opinion, "makes
    multiple allegations of (Fayette County Judge Nancy) Vernon's involvement in the police
    investigation and her awareness of conflicting stories in that investigation."

    The civil suit, filed two years ago against Vernon, the county and some still current and
    former Connellsville police officers, was filed two years after the woman won her release in
    2015 from prison.

    Her release from prison resulted, inevitably, from lawyers at the Pennsylvania Innocence
    Project digging and learning that the key, damaging information, falsely linking the then
    defendant to the homicide, presented to the jury from a supposed dental forensics expert
    witness in 2006, in reality, was "junk science."


    The recent federal civil court decided in part not to dismiss the piece of the woman's suit
    against Vernon and to allow it to proceed, as per the paper, because "these allegations are
    sufficient to support a plausible claim of Vernon's involvement in a civil rights conspiracy."

    RANTS if that is true and Fay is left with only one, or maybe just two, judges with smarts
    and integrity, beyond reproach. (12 Apr 19)
    Additional source: https://innocenceprojectpa.org/cases/crystal-weimer/



    Quotes Of The Day" on the 8,000 Fay jobs DoubleV created
    or maintained
    "Does he mean he got 8,000 political favor jobs created and maintained in his decades
    campaigning for office? Or does he mean he himself exclusively had everything to do with
    attracting new businesses or helping businesses expand that much?"   
    Pete, last night at the diner, recalling bits of a speech from an incumbent political candidate at a
    fund raiser and relaying his thoughts on the speech he heard

    "I rode the elevator daily with people from Advanced Acoustics, when it was a tiny little
    place in a few cubic feet of room in the downtown bank building. The company's
    impressive growth over the years and its upcoming additional expansion that (Fayette
    County Commissioner Vince) Vicites spoke of might have something to do with him, but it's
    success since it opened is most likely due only to the skills of its own internal, Advanced
    Acoustics company staff."
    Moi

    "Do you think he counted the same couple hundred of people or same jobs multiple times,
    each time the Grindstone telecommunications company closed and reopened as a new
    company?"
    Pete's wife, guessing that about 3,000 of the claimed 8,000 jobs the incumbent says he created
    or maintained could possibly be inflated by multiple regroupings and company closures,
    affecting about an actual 100-200 maximum number of jobs ever open at any time at that
    location




    Moving Fay forward with empty pockets for
    mountain emergency services
    RANTS that ambulance and emergency response time will increase substantially in the
    mountain, with the closure of the mountain ambulance station that served some 6,000
    residents and additional tourists from the top of the summit to the Somerset County line.

    RANTS that a region so focused on attracting tourist dollars undermines its ownself so
    ridiculously by allowing this situation to occur. Fay can't afford to have a mountain base
    station for emergency medical services? Really?

    Fay can afford thousands of dollars in non-budgeted raises and oodles of other non-
    essential perks, but cannot afford to cough up more funds for shorter response times, of 20
    or more minutes, for emergency medical response, for those living and paying taxes or
    vacationing on the mountain?

    Oh, please!


    RANTS that Fay is dying because of such sheer stupidity. (8 Apr 19)


    "Quote Of The Day" on the wrong way to try to eliminate an
    election competitor
    "During a brief period of time, maybe five to seven minutes, (Fayette County
    Commissioner Dave) Lohr made a veiled attack on my pregnant wife. Speaking of the
    challenges a political race raises, his almost divorce with his wife, the ugly slander and
    attacks. Remember, this was the longest portion of any topic in his candidacy speech. Very
    cowardly in my opinion. Attack your opponent, instill a lack of conviction in his pregnant
    wife. For what? To win a local political race?"
    Jacob Ely, county commissioner candidate, from an exert on his recent blog at this link,
    expressing opinion of incumbent opponent Lohr and his take on the infamous free dirt Lohr
    exclaims he discovered for a future airport expansion project



    Fay baby needs prayers
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a serious request to put all political thoughts aside for a
    moment and say a prayer for a Uniontown baby, healthy till last week, now fighting to
    breathe on her own in a pediatric intensive care unit.

    Please keep her, her parents and their extended families in your thoughts and prayers that
    she starts to improve and breathe unassisted.  Not much else matters when a baby is so ill.
    (26 Mar 19)

    \
    AG to move criminal case of Bullskin Dem
    committee man to
    AG Consumer Protection Act violation
    investigation, civil court
    At a hearing tomorrow, a state attorney general investigator is expected to drop a
    remaining misdemeanor charge against a Bullskin Dem party committee man, whose three
    felonies over not doing work for a $4,500 home excavation job previously were dropped by
    the county district attorney last fall. Instead, the state attorney general's office will proceed
    with a consumer protection investigation and civil case against the self-employed
    contractor.

    Today, the state attorney general investigator released the area couple, who last August
    filed a Writ of Mandamus against the county district attorney for not wanting to prosecute
    the Bullskin Dem party committee man and contractor, from their subpoena issued by the
    county district attorney to appear tomorrow for a hearing at the Fayette County courthouse.

    The district attorney in early February came under a court order from Fayette County Judge
    Steve Leskinen to recuse himself from the case and turn it over to the state attorney
    general's office. A few weeks later, the state attorney general investigator went to
    Leskinen's court and then to get the case investigation file that the district attorney still
    held.

    So, RANTS, that after all that drama, today, the same investigator opted not to prosecute the
    Bullskin Dem committee man on criminal charges at all and focus on the consumer
    protection investigation and civil case against him.

    While the area couple duped out of $4,500 by the Bullskin Dem party committee man,
    reportedly, was told in person and by phone by the state attorney general investigator that
    the county district attorney's delay in recusing himself and turning the case file over to her
    hinders her ability to re-file or prosecute criminally now, the investigator in writing wrote
    nothing about the district attorney hindering her ability to prosecute the  man criminally
    now.

    The couple's separate civil case against the Fay Dem party committee man contractor will  
    continue.

    "The same evidence does support the violations of the Consumer Protection Act," Deputy
    Attorney General Alicia Werner wrote today.



    RANTS that the courts jerk people around this much. (25 Mar 19)



    "Quote Of The Day" of the most frustrating kind
    "Solomon said because Shellhammer has never testified to those events other than his
    statements made on that night, he has to go on circumstantial evidence to support the self-
    defense claim and denied the motion."
    heraldstandard.com, "Judge denies suppression motions in Masontown homicide case,"
    making it almost sound as though Judge Gerald Solomon is ready to dismiss a homicide case
    if he heard defendant Chris Shellhammer, lodged in the county jail without bail for 14 months,
    testify in court on the stand that he acted in self defense in a fatal Masontown shooting that
    occurred after Shellhammer, reportedly, was blocked from leaving a home, beaten, suffered a
    closed head injury brain concussion, a broken jaw and broken nose AND THEN, reportedly,
    shot one of two people beating him, as he fought to maintain consciousness and the duo's talk
    turned to the gun one knew Shellhammer carried on him  


    Retired feds making Fay their concern
    RAVES of respect and welcome to some retired federal investigators, offering to help their
    already involved colleague, to monitor some criminal matters in Fay drawing their
    impressive attention and concern.

    RAVES of hope that investigative instincts of these seasoned feds shine spot on in
    acknowledging any red flags they may see. More to come after their findings become
    available. (24 Mar 19)  



    "Quote Of The Day" from another who formerly served on the Fayette
    County Airport Authority
    "This board has been in violation of a lot of issues for a bit of time now. No published listing
    of meetings, no published accounting of the money, no accounting of grants, no formal
    anything on bids and there are things that have been done. No following of historical
    guidelines for several buildings. It is a pity that I had to wait to say anything but the airport
    needs a good pair of eyes looking at it. Keep in mind that they can make it miserable for
    some people."
    Myrna Giannopoulis, chiming in on social media ongoing chatter, about two county
    commissioners meeting privately with state political aides and
    airport authority staff or authority or operational board members, to discuss a generous offer
    by a contractor to donate dirt from its projects to the airport;
    Giannopoulis, possibly the most bullied volunteer -- or possibly running neck to neck for that
    title with Bev Beal on the housing authority -- to serve on any county board or authority and --
    again, like Beal -- still not fold to intimidation efforts during public meetings


    Credentialed professional passed over for
    county board seat
    RANTS that a nurse practitioner, assistant professor of nursing and grant writer was passed
    over for a seat on a newly formed county hospital authority today due to politics.

    Instead of placing a highly qualified health professional on the new authority, Fayette
    County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr named one of their political campaign
    managers and a relative of a big labor union head to serve.

    "I recognize how important our small community hospitals are to the health of our
    communities," rejected applicant Melany Chrash wrote tonight on social media, calling the
    hospitals a "neglected resource."


    Chrash, as readers here know, wrote a dandy of a letter to the editor last month after
    attending and speaking at a county meeting with concern about the new voting machines
    required to be in place by the 2020 presidential elections.

    "I didn't expect Lohr to vote for me since I caught him sneaking around the back of my
    house and I yelled at him to get off my property," she added tonight.


    Regardless of what that might have been about, RANTS that politics played such a dirty
    hand today at the table. Lets hope, somehow, that a  campaign manager and union head's
    relative end up bringing more than their campaign buttons to the new authority board and
    that their motivation to serve continues if their guys are not re-elected. (21 Mar 19)   



    Welcome, Spring!


    Nobody knew about the statute of limitations?
    One of DA's rare convictions vacated for
    improper prosecution
    RANTS that a victim of a child sexual predator and families of his other victims got royally
    jerked around by the negligent courts of Fayette County, with a trial, 2018 conviction and
    January sentencing, only to today have the conviction vacated and the offender awaiting
    retrial released from home monitoring a free man.

    RANTS that all of the victims in this case suffered again all these years later, needlessly,
    because the district attorney didn't know the law and prosecuted the offender after statute
    of limitations had actually expired. RANTS that no judge paid enough attention during the
    proceedings to notice.

    RANTS that this kind of surreal stupidity from the courts affects real people so sadly. There
    is no excuse.

    RANTS because the incompetence of county prosecution probably just handed an admitted
    child sexual predator an easy out of court settlement for the violation of his rights for
    improper prosecution.  (20 Mar 19)


    "Quote Of The Day," in a must read, excellent commentary, on
    social media, from a former airport authority board member on the amazing free dirt
    for a $57-million airport project... and the spin of the matter in the paper

    "The Airport, is a mom and pop, consistently negative revenue, business disguised as an
    Airport Authority. The 'non public' meeting is a standard operating practice designed to
    deceive, conceal, and make decisions behind closed doors. Who are the Air Transportation
    and Facilities Consultants? No web site to be found. Don’t be surprised if the group is
    composed of local airport cronies.

    "...The FAA and Pa Dot provide excellent guidance for Airport expansion i.e.. runway
    extensions. They provide a required sequence of events that must be satisfied long before
    the ‘obtain free dirt” phase of construction.

    "A copy of the mandatory Benefit Cost Analysis would be useful to determine the
    economics of runway extension and is a prerequisite prior to FAA / Pa Dot approval. Where
    is that Analysis?"
    John Cofchin, former airport authority board member, in an exert from his written comment this
    week in social media discussion, on zimmerlink's blog, of the donated dirt which
    Commissioner Dave Lohr obtained free for a $57 million dollar airport project that may or may
    not begin in our lifetimes;
    Cofchin, who left the authority board without public comment several months before his term
    expired last year, and brought smiles this week to readers happy to hear what's on his mind
    these days.


    "Completing the runway extension is another piece in Lohr’s plan to build business in
    Fayette County. Materials make up half the cost of the project, and Lohr has developed a
    plan for securing those materials at no cost to taxpayers."
    heraldstandard.com, "Lohr to seek re-election to county commissioner seat," quoting the
    incumbent's plan to have free, donated dirt for a $57,000,000 to $59,000,000 airport project that
    possibly still needs funding for loading, transporting, delivery, and then, spreading the free dirt,
    for an airport project yet to begin after several years of planning   

    Vicites, Lohr arranged private meeting over
    airport dirt
    RAVES to Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, honestly, for being a much
    better person than most of the rest of us would be in her situation. Most of the rest of us,
    surely, at least once each administration, would have banged two heads together by now, if
    we were sometimes in her chair and shoes. Read More.


    Creditors jockeying in line for Cobblestone
    profits, repayments
    RANTS that another news story runs of another creditor or partner or investor suing another
    or entering motions to stop some payments in the ongoing saga of Connellsville's
    Cobblestone Hotel. Today's Daily Courier* tells us that Cobblestone now wants to stop a
    loan from being issued to sustain the hotel day to day now. This follows recent motions
    from Fay Penn Economical Development Council to secure its funding in the project in light
    of the owner's recent decision to try to sell the hotel.

    RANTS because everyone but the kitchen sink seems to be awaiting repayments or returns
    on investments. Rants&Raves is told that the county is owed hotel tax money from the
    Cobblestone.

    Additionally to all funds owed already mentioned in newspapers, bankruptcy papers
    document that another interesting loan or line of credit for $200,000, signed for by former
    commissioner Al Ambrosini, through the Slovak Savings Bank, remains due nearly in
    full, after repayment was made for only about $5,000 of it since 2016.

    RAVES of hope that the players, somehow, overcome the hurdles and one another... and
    turn the business around in a community that needs jobs. (16 Mar 19)
    *"Cobblestone Hotels files objections in city hotel bankruptcy"


    Fay official about to be sued, ACLU asking
    about others
    RANTS that a former employee's civil suit, in the works for several months, appears nearly
    filed against one Fayette County courthouse official seeking re-election.

    No other county official is expected to be named.  


    If that's not bad enough, Rants&Raves, in an unrelated matter, has received word that the
    ACLU is reaching out and asking about alleged serious civil rights violations of others
    incarcerated, or formerly incarcerated at the county jail, not already part of a civil rights suit
    filed last year on behalf of a few formerly incarcerated there.

    RANTS that situations get so bad, even without newspaper coverage, that the advocates
    call in. (10 Mar 19)


    "Quote Of The Day" from both sides of the same mouth
    "Assistant District Attorney Sean Lementowski, in his closing arguments, noted that
    (Nathan) Yasek showed 'no brusing, no swelling' on his body after the confrontation."
    The Daily Courier, "Jury: Nathan Yasek not guilty of all charges," quoting ADA Lementowski in
    exclamation that Yasek showed no visible injuries prior to shooting, supposedly in self-
    defense, in a fatal 2017 shooting, before the jury acquitted Yasek this week

    "Why does Lementowski make an issue, since (Chris) Shellhammer sustained a broken
    jaw, a broken nose and a closed head injury concussion before he shot in self-defense...  
    and the county is still prosecuting him!"
    Dave, this morning at the diner, reacting to the above referenced article in the paper, shaking
    his head and going on about how the county prosecutors talk out of both sides of their mouths
    and should arm volunteers from that office to test their theories -- i.e., allow someone to beat
    the crap out of them, to break their jaws, their noses and give them concussions, to test and
    see when they reach for a gun, loaded without their knowledge with blanks, in self-defense to
    shoot




    Can DA be gagged from hallway scream
    drama?
    RANTS because, apparently, it got way uglier than we first thought, in a courthouse hallway
    Monday, when the district attorney prevented some out of state family members of a
    defendant from entering the courtroom, even though none were to be witnesses in the
    case.  

    While the turned away family members did not cause a disturbance, the district attorney,
    Rants&Raves is told, "was cursing and calling someone a d***head associated with (the)
    case. Read More.


    Not guilty on all charges
    Fayette County jury tosses DA's 2017
    homicide case out courthouse window in
    'about 15 minutes'
    RANTS that a Fayette County jury needed only about 15 minutes to deliberate and find the
    defendant in a 2017 homicide not guilty on all charges, including criminal homicide,
    aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, today in Judge Steve Leskinen's
    courtroom. Read More.


    2016 gag order keeps defendant's family out
    of court?
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that concerns were voiced today here that family
    members of defendant Michael Wright were not permitted to enter a Fayette County
    courtroom today for one of his scheduled court dates. Reportedly, nobody stopped from
    entering the courtroom was scheduled to be called as witnesses in the trial, which is said to
    be tried as a death penalty case.

    As per sources, the county prosecutors cited the reason attendance was restricted was a
    2016 gag order placed on witnesses and lawyers in the case twice discussed on "The
    Nancy Grace Show" on television.

    Wright and Andrea Dusha were charged three years ago with the starvation and
    dehydration death of their two-year-old daughter, Lydia Wright. Dusha and the child
    returned to Wright's home after a 12-day absence two days prior to the child's death,
    feeding the child a liquid bottle feeding of a Pedialyte mixture. Dusha accepted a
    controversial plea deal last fall with the county district attorney to testify against Wright. (4
    Mar 19)


    DA does a good thing
    RAVES to Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower for offering the same exact plea
    deals to two men of different races charged in a fatal heroin death of the one's cousin --
    especially since the newspapers early on sometimes referred to only one as the defendant
    and that some cautiously feared the case could create racial tension that the area just did
    not need. (2 Mar 19)


    Staff violate client privacy in process?
    County staff stab one another in back, take
    political jabs
    RANTS to anonymous snail mailers not quite up to snuff on meeting even near minimal
    requirements for this column to take their call for advocacy cause to heart. This is one of
    those times. Read More.