Back to R&R 2019
RANTS & RAVES March-April, 2019
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.
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."
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."
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)
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
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
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
Fay judge sued for civil right's violation as
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
"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?"
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."
"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
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
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?
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
"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?"
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
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
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
The couple's separate civil case against the Fay Dem party committee man contractor will
"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)
"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."
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
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
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.
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)
Nobody knew about the statute of limitations?
One of DA's rare convictions vacated for
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?"
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
"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."
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
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
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
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
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.
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."
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!"
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
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
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
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
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
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.