RANTS  &  RAVES               2019 JAN-FEB

    "Quotes Of The Day"
    "Shall any witness in this case, either for the commonwealth or the defendant, make an extrajudicial
    statement, written or oral, likely to interfere with the rights of the defendant, or the rights of the
    commonwealth, to a fair trial by an impartial jury, he or she will be precluded from testifying in this
    Judge Gerald Solomon, today, in regard to the District Attorney's motion to gag the defense attorney for Chris
    Shellhammer and his mom, who was never scheduled to be a witness

    "So does that mean the DA's star witness cannot testify any more against Chris? She was all over the television news
    telling them her original story, that he came in guns a blazing and shot, shot, shot, that she later changed to... the dead
    guy coming later through the door walking in on her and Chris. Doesn't that affect Chris getting an impartial jury?"
    The gist of email feedback coming in to Rants&Raves since today's court adjourned that doesn't include a lot of

    Why district attorneys get disbarred
    RAVES to this column's readers who "get it" and understand that nobody at Rants&Raves enjoys
    criticizing some of the reasoning, motives or actions of Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower.
    Read More.

    Attorney General crashes, takes over
    DA's controversial case of Fay Dem
    party committee man
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that an investigator from the state attorney general's office,
    frustrated with Fayette County Richard Bower's non-compliance with a 23-day-old court order to recuse
    himself from a case, due to his conflict of interest, walked into the courtroom of Judge Steve Leskinen
    today at the Fayette County Courthouse and took over the county's prosecution of a Fay Democratic
    party committee man, home contractor and excavator, who, reportedly, swiped about $4,500 for sewage
    excavation work from a Connellsville couple, but did not do the work. Read More.

    "Quotes Of The Day" on how little district attorneys and judges watch regional
    television news
    "So the judge really needs 10 more days to read the papers he got 12 days ago to get a memorandum
    from each lawyer on why there needs to be, or needs not to be, a gag order on an attorney who
    behaved appropriately and professionally on television and a defendant's mom?
    Pete, reading online, catching up on today's motions court hearing where the judge was
    supposed to decide -- but didn't decide -- whether to issue the gag requested by the district attorney

    "Wonder why they just didn't pull that WPXI story up and watch it?"
    Pete's wife, explaining that the judge hadn't watched the video yet that the assistant district attorney complained
    about in the motion he filed 12 days ago with the court, and that the county installed those five courtroom 50-60-
    inch, high definition, 4K televisions to present evidence

    "This assistant district attorney nor judge watches much Pittsburgh tv newscasts."
    Dave, forming his own opinion while reading online over Pete's shoulder about today's day in motions court, as he
    rattled off several other never gagged defendants, legal defense lawyers, witnesses and plaintiffs seen daily on the
    news... and then several more

    "So what's your point? That nobody in even sensational cases got gagged... and if this mom or defense
    attorney is gagged, that all those unhappy with the outcome of their court cases can come back and sue
    because their attorneys, their witnesses, their district attorney, their plaintiffs were NOT gagged and all
    over the news?"
    Pete, asking for clarification

    Motions court Monday: gauge of corruption?
    RANTS because in the morning, we're going to find out if Fayette County really is still as corrupt as
    some claim it is. Come Monday morning, a judge is expected to rule on the district attorney's motion to
    gag a homicide case defense attorney and the mother of defendant Chris Shellhammer, to prevent
    them from speaking again with media and to censor the mom's social media posts. Read More.

    Al&Bud, airport gurus in the news
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the Daily Courier brings a smile with a report that a former
    commissioner and airport manager want to be the brains behind deciding what can and cannot be built
    near the airport.

    In "Airport authority looks to develop zoning overlay," the duo contend that they should develop the
    airport's own overlay so that they can approve more with less input from the county zoning office.

    Readers here recall that the 2006 current zoning overlay itself became a hot topic of debate. Although it
    was posted on the county zoning office webpage and included in county meeting minutes as being
    approved, passed, voted on and implemented in 2006, county officials scratched their heads some five
    years back and had doubts about its implementation, though it was ratified and recorded as being
    implemented with state and federal aviation entities. One airport board member publicly ridiculed
    another board member and a writer from a local paper for writing a story based on what ws not allowed
    within an overlay zone.

    Nonetheless, RAVES of hope that nobody ever gives the airport board members or staff full authority to
    lease airport office space to a methadone clinic, build a nearby tower or a nearby prison on pyrite or
    allow whatever their hearts desire, in nearby public funded business and industrial parks. (22 Feb 19)

    EB regrouped, due to '19 commish races
    Lohr must not have got the memo?
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that nearly one month ago, the courts named replacements on
    the Fayette County Election Board for two county commissioners seeking re-election in 2019.  Read

    New Election Board regrouped, due to '19 commish
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that nearly one month ago, the courts named replacements on
    the Fayette County Election Board, for two county commissioners seeking re-election in 2019.   (19 Feb

    DA reviewed Thorpe homicide case file for first time
    RANTS that Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower claimed to have not reviewed the homicide
    case file of Leatha Thorpe until today, when he dropped the homicide and felony charges filed months
    ago against her. Read More.

    "Quote Of The Day" that should make us happy longer than it does... but we still can't
    help think, a few minutes later, again, just how badly we feel for Leatha Thorpe

    "After our review of all the records, we decided this did not arise to a homicide charge... We're
    not going to take a case to trial where there is insufficient evidence."
    Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower, quoted on, when he folded, after three
    months trying to prosecute homicide charges against  Ms. Leatha Thorpe, for allowing her terminally ill brother,
    who refused help and food without a Living Will, to have cockroaches and a dirty home;
    Bower, who in recent weeks, also dismissed a similar homicide charge against a third sibling, who when booked
    and incarcerated in the county jail before the brother's death, didn't disclose that a terminally ill sibling lived at his
    same address

    Vince&Dave being rude?
    RAVES to the South Union woman who wrote a shocking letter to the editor to the Herald Standard
    about her frustrating experience at a recent county commissioner meeting and being ever so rudely
    treated by Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr.

    She wrote in over her shock at last week's meeting, after asking commissioners why the county has not
    followed a federal mandate yet to replace voter machines by 2020. The letter writer and speaker at last
    week's meeting wrote about her shock witnessing the interactions among the commissioners before
    her, during a business meeting.

    "The other commissioners (Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr) openly argued with her
    (Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink) on the facts, which I later verified with the election office and that
    Zimmerlink was indeed correct, despite Vicites noting he had 'the memory of an elephant,' even though
    his memory of the facts were incorrect... When I continued to raise the issue of statistics, I was
    summarily shutdown by Lohr noting, "this is just a waste of time."

    RANTS that the commissioners don't want to address this big purchase ticket item until the very last
    minute for reasons such as there are too many candidates in the next election. Oh, please! (19 Feb 19)

    Will judge jail DA for ignoring order to
    RANTS, since as of late Thursday, and then again today, someone with the state attorney general
    confirmed that the state office had yet to receive anything from Fayette County District Attorney
    Richard Bower, in spite of a judge's court order issued February 3, 2019 telling Bower he must recuse
    himself from a case and have the state attorney general take it over. Read more.

    "Quote Of The Day"
    "Personally, I have violated no rules of Professional Conduct, nor have I made public any facts that
    haven’t already been made part of the public record by the District Attorney."
    Michael Aubule, defense attorney for Chris Shellhammer, responding to* over the filing of a
    motion by the Fayette County District Attorney to gag players and one potential witness from discussing the case
    and criticizing the county lead prosecutor for charging Shellhammer with homicide, in a shooting that happened
    13 months ago, after Shellhammer was beaten, suffered a broken jaw, broken nose and closed head injury
    concussion and then shot one of two people beating him in the head, to save his life.
    * "DA's office requesting gag order in McClellandtown man's homicide case"

    DA files motion to gag defendant's mom
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note of sheer disappointment that an assistant district attorney earlier
    this week filed a motion in court to gag and silence an outspoken parent, critical of the county
    prosecution of her adult child. Read More.

    Judge orders Fay DA off criminal case
    of Dem party committee man
    contractor, transfer to AG
    RANTS that citizens stiffed by a county Democrat committee man, working as a home improvements
    contractor a few years ago are amazingly close to breaking records of times being jerked around by the
    courts and denied due process, as only people such as Fay Commish Angela Zimmerlink, Chris
    Shellhammer, Diane and Terry Kriss, former editors of the extinct blog Not Enough Said, David
    Munshinski, and a few others have been. Read More.

    "Quote Of The Day"  that deserves the attention of bankruptcy court
    "The hotel is definitely getting business. I don't think that's what the problem is. People are staying
    Greg Lincoln, Connellsville mayor, offering input to the below hotel bankruptcy filing piece in
    today's Daily Courier

    Connellsville hotel files bankruptcy
    RANTS the Cobblestone Hotel in Connellsville has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and local businesses
    are still owed close to $700,000 for carpeting and construction materials and costs, as per today's Daily

    RANTS if investors who filed suit against the hotel's primary investors last year never got their profits,
    as well.

    Much of the controversy behind the civil suit filed last year among investors is unspoken publicly. It is
    known that some public funds were used to help fund development for the hotel at one time, since
    these funds were discussed at the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority meetings. The Authority is
    not involved in the civil lawsuit.
    *"Hotel owner files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy"

    "Quote Of The Day" on Fay election campaign violations
    "You, the people, must call them out for their unethical actions. Angela has done it for years, but as one
    person and a fellow commissioner, she gets disrespected and called a "crybaby" making a fuss over
    "something so petty," but it's unethical and wrong! They would call her out on it in a heartbeat if she did
    that. It's time for the people to say, 'No! Enough is enough!"
    Janice Snyder, long-time Democrat Fayette County Clerk of Courts, chiming in on a social media chat about
    Fayette County Commission Chairman Vince Vicites sporting his election campaign shirt to a county business
    meeting and the alleged distribution of political campaign fund raiser event information in the courthouse by some
    candidates seeking re-election;

    Snyder, referencing Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink in the post and urging citizens asking Zimmerlink to expose
    the election campaign violations to take action themselves and stop depending on the commissioner solely to
    address and stop unallowed political activity in the courthouse;

    Snyder, who a few weeks ago also took to social media declaring that "evil has won," when Zimmerlink announced
    she would not seek re-election, and completing her 26th and final year as the county's chief clerk of courts,
    speaking out against all things rotten for the first time  

    Update on the update of civil rights violations at the county jail
    RANTS that the truth of the matter in the cancelled clergy visit to the jail is because someone in charge
    forgot to write down the date and time of the scheduled clergy visit. Although there was an incident at
    the jail going on at the same time, as a prison board member was told, the full, true account was not
    shared with a prison board member earlier who jumped to help with the limited truth shared with her.

    So... RANTS that someone in jail administration forgot to record the scheduled appointment and forgot
    all about it. That type of negligence does result in someone's rights being violated in the long run. Lets
    hope they get it right next time.  (8 Feb 19)

    Editor's note: Since publication of the below piece yesterday about a minister being denied entrance to
    the county jail after arriving for a pre-arranged, pre-scheduled visit, word was received that something
    happened at the jail that stopped visitors from entering. Why then was that statement not the only thing
    the minister was told promptly upon arrival yesterday -- or during last month's scheduled visit that got
    cancelled with no explanation at the door?

    If all visits are cancelled due to situations that suddenly just came up inside the jail, why waste upwards
    of an hour searching for the staff, who initially scheduled the visit in the first place, to tell the visitor
    waiting at the door that the appointment must be cancelled?  

    As ACLU, fed cases linger, religious rights denied
    County jail: civil rights violations ridiculously still
    status quo
    RANTS with all the federal civil court prison-related settlement talks, about consolidating or not
    consolidating the ACLU's law suit with a separate case of three female, former inmates, it's concerning
    that far more serious cases have yet to be filed and were even ignored when the ACLU was building its
    case against the county prison administrators.

    RANTS, in other words, that the worst is yet to come that way.

    Why, for instance, today --  while these other known suits from last year are being settled in pricey
    Pittsburgh law offices, and the Munshinski case is yet to be settled -- why, oh, why, is the county still
    allowing civil rights violations to occur all too regularly or at all, today at the county jail?

    Why can't a detainee awaiting trial have a private conversation with his spiritual minister? Something so
    simple. Something that, supposedly, was supposed to have been scheduled, arranged, a few times in
    the last 13 months, but never was yet.

    RAVES of hope that the county gets its pathetic act together in this matter. It has been one year since
    two commissioners gathered for newspaper photos with 49 ministers to ask for help and invited the
    spiritual leaders to visit the jail to help minister inmates or provide hope of some type to them that they
    can turn their lives around. What a crock!

    RANTS that a minister with a pre-approved, pre-scheduled visit, waited to no avail outside the jail to
    enter, and that civil rights violations, ridiculously, still happen today. (7 Feb 19)

    RIP: Kris B.
    RANTS of the saddest kind that opioids and heroin overdoses have decreased, but not enough to stop
    what has become an all too familiar period of heartbreak and prayer, as news is received again that
    another person or family we know or know of lost someone so dear.

    On behalf of Rants&Raves, this website and the Pittsburgh musicians, whose articles one brave
    newspaper editor once allowed us to write and publish, whenever we seemed to want, on her Sunday
    paper Lively Arts section cover page for a few years, our deepest sympathies are extended to Cindy
    Ekas, former Herald Standard editor and current editor of The Daily Courier, who this week composed
    her 27-year-old daughter's obituary that made us all have to take a break after reading.

    These kind of days  just can't help but break our hearts for the young life lost, the parents, families and
    friends. (7 Feb 19)   

    5,000 annually guilty of pre-meditating
    homicide in Fay
    RANTS, thinking as the assistant district attorney did aloud during a homicide suspect's preliminary
    hearing a few months ago, because some 5,000 county residents each year now must be guilty of pre-
    meditating homicide in Fay.

    In political campaign re-election information, the county sheriff states that 5,000 new permits were
    issued in each of the past three years in Fayette County - so many that he said he needs to expand his
    work hours to accommodate those applying for permits to carry concealed weapons.

    We have no reason to doubt his count. Rants&Raves stresses that the sheriff has nothing whatsoever to
    do with the goofiness of the next paragraph or any reference to the goofiness of the assistant district
    attorney's logic.

    So, recalling that unforgettable statement a few months ago from an assistant district attorney -- i.e.,
    that having a permit for a conceal carry weapon automatically means guilt of premeditating homicide --
    RANTS that Fay Co must have a spike of 5,000 new citizens annually pre-meditating homicide. We
    should all lose sleep thinking about it, no?

    Sound ridiculous?

    You bet it does... just as ridiculous as it sounded in court a few months ago, when the assistant district
    attorney prosecuting the Christopher Shellhammer homicide case said it.

    It sounds ridiculous enough, though, for citizens to contact the county district attorney's office and ask
    for clarification about. (2 Feb 19)

    ADA: having conceal carry gun permit
    means one is guilty of   premeditating
    RANTS that Fay judges buy this stuff.

    RANTS of the most frustrating kind, because, try as we may for a few months now, we have not found
    one shred of evidence to support an assistant district attorney's statement in court, that merely having
    a permit to carry a concealed weapon makes one automatically guilty of pre-meditating homicide.

    When we say we've looked quite extensively to locate another to agree with the assistant district
    attorney, we do mean extensively. We have read too many law books, asked others far more intelligent
    and knowledgeable of the law to review the law and offer opinion, and polled a few hundred who
    possess a conceal carry permit.

    Try as we may, we could not locate one who shares opinion and believes the assistant district attorney
    has a valid point or legal rule in what too many saw as a biased, foolishly expressed matter.  

    The alarming and seeming to be untrue declaration from the assistant district attorney was mentioned
    in a recent media interview with a local attorney and television reporter when discussing his client's
    case.  (1 Feb 19)

    E Street Band: Sports greatest 13
    minute video
    RAVES that the best, most entertaining 13 minutes of sports history and excitement were excellently
    preserved for bitterly cold, snowy, icy winter days such as this, these nine years later.

    RAVES, because any time watching these best 13 minutes of sports video is a good time to dance.
    RAVES this ninth anniversary of the making of this best sports video ever. (1 Feb 19)

    DA's star witness against videographer charged in
    beating of another man she met online
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the district attorney's star witness expected to testify
    against Chris Shellhammer -- AKA videographer Chuck U. Farley -- in his upcoming homicide trial,
    today, herself, was charged and held without bail in the kidnapping and beating of another man she met
    online one week ago in her Masontown home. Read More.

    County director on leave while investigation
    RANTS that some county workers are in such a tizzy over their boss' suspension on administrative paid
    leave that they conveniently forget some things. This might not be what some of them want to hear,
    mind you.

    Unless the boss is a chronic alcoholic already experiencing irreversible mobility and neurological
    damage, staff have to deal with reality of a boss whose behavior was embarrassing and inappropriate in
    front of customers. County staff helped create the monster, after all, by refusing to cooperate with
    county investigations in the past, and by partying with their boss on paid work time every single chance
    they got.

    One even tried to stir the pot in the past by lying and running with a bogus story that the boss was
    plastered on a day the boss truly was not impaired.

    So, given the past roles everyone shared in creating this fine mess, Rants&Raves offers up sincere
    hope that they stop using civilians and outsiders to do their dirty work... and that at least one of them
    offers to gas up the car and tries to talk the boss into going for treatment. (29 Jan 19)

    "Quote Of The Day"
    "I want some common sense to take over, and I want my son released from that jail."

    DA rants over Fay's homicide "spike"
    RANTS that this morning's pleasant tea and coffee fest had to be unpleasantly interrupted by another
    disturbing 2018 regional homicide summary in one of the local papers. Where is the logic and wisdom of
    county officials promoting misleading statistics for personal or questionable reasons?   

    It's one thing for a self-claimed, award-winning journalist -- who days before election released a
    desperate film, falsely claiming his friend and business partner's political opponent pushed, shoved and
    assaulted a female -- to call Fay "FayNam" in a weekly newspaper column or promote a violent, poor
    region image... but RANTS that today's pleasant tea and coffee fest reading included a horrifying
    headline of a spike in county homicides, in interview with the district attorney.

    RANTS because someone seems not to understand that the spike might just be a spike in the writing of
    wrongful charges and judges indulging the prosecution process of cases, even when police and
    witness changed weak stories three times.   

    RANTS that the grim statistics being shoved down our throats this morning over breakfast reading did
    not mention the number of homicide charges that were withdrawn or dropped for a lack of evidence or
    the number of pre-trial conferences in which a judge questioned the charges.

    Nor did the DA mention today any number of pending homicide cases that he's trying to plea down from
    homicide to avoid trial.

    RANTS that the time spent in interview and en vogue for another newspaper photo might have been
    better spent working to get all evidence under discovery to those awaiting trial. A few recent news
    articles have mentioned that those defense teams have not received this needed information and are
    entitled by law to receive it. (27 Jan 19)