RANTS  &  RAVES       2018 March   

    Or just miserably under-staffed?
    Public Defender Office: thumbing noses at court order
    deadlines, clogging up the county courts, prison on purpose?

    RANTS that the County of Fayette's Public Defender's Office missed another deadline of a court order to visit with an
    incarcerated inmate at the Fayette County Prison heading to court soon for a very serious death penalty case.

    "Defense counsel shall meet with the Def (defendant) in the place of Def's (defendant's) confinement within 45 days of the
    date of this Order to review all discovery with the Def (defendant)and to consult with the Def (defendant) about the plea
    offer that has been extended by the Comm (Commonwealth)," stated the court order issued last month, by Linda Cordaro,
    on March 9, 2018.

    Although the inmate has another pre-trial conference scheduled for this case on May 4 and the district attorney said he's
    planning to seek the dealt penalty, the inmate's lawyer missed the court-ordered deadline of April 23 to get with the inmate
    to prepare for court.

    In a recent interview with Jon Jones of Uniontown, published by Rants&Raves below on April 18, the inmate stated that he
    had seen a prison counselor once "for five minutes in two years," and said that he submitted written daily requests to see a

    RANTS, though, that we must note that the accused's public defender lawyer missed a judge's court ordered 45-day
    deadline six days ago to meet to meet with the inmate who could start to go to trial to be put to death in just six days. (29
    Apr 18)

    * It is noted that a county employee employed as a county prison counselor did meet with the inmate this week.


    Or ask Vicites, Lohr to pay half
    Coroner should return most of the $14,366.73 to county coffers

    RANTS that the County of Fayette allowed its financially strapped, meager coffers to pay a $14,366.73 hotel, airfare, cruise
    ticket for an elected official and staff, but has no money to fund additional public defenders to speed up inmate criminal
    motions and no money at all for some worthwhile community programs, such as libraries that increase our quality of life, or
    to fix a once heavily traveled, but now closed, small county bridge.

    RANTS that the controversy and courthouse whispering over the requisition form for that reimbursement is said to have
    raised upset and lowered employee moral in other departments. Total training costs for the 14 hours of training that each of
    the six coroner's office staff received on the seven day cruise was $2,995.

    Not that this specific $14,366.73 expense was approved recently at a public meeting. It wasn't. The reimbursement check
    was cut last December for the full amount. Commissioners approved non-specific training and travel funding at last year's
    budget sessions. Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr and Fayette Head Clerk Amy Revak signed
    off on the requisition form privately the controller's office to reimburse the full amount in late 2017 for the cruise training
    that set sail from Florida on January 7, 2018.

    While approval for travel and training expenses for elected officials is not subject to the same scrutiny by commissioners
    as expenses for county employees are, the coroner's cruise for his staff and family should not have been paid for from
    public funds. RANTS that commissioners thought nothing of the cost, paid it and never asked how related or appropriate the
    specific cruise training was to the jobs performed for the county.   

    RAVES of hope that the coroner reimburses the county for the sweet vacation, minus the training cost of $2,995. Certainly,
    the office of the public defender could use some more money, as well as the fund that needs boosted to fix a small county
    bridge closed for several years that affects four small Bullskin businesses.

    RANTS because there are just too, too many other worthy but neglected county obligations for Fay to be paying for a fluff
    cruise vacation that produced 14 hours of training that likely has not much to do with the actual work of a county coroner,
    office staff or deputy coroners. (28 Apr 18)

    Vicites, Lohr approved $14K training cruise for coroner's office

    RANTS that Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr approved reimbursement of $14,366.73 to the
    county coroner for a seven-day Caribbean cruise training seminar for the coroner, chief deputy coroner, assistant coroners,
    the coroner's office manager and clerk.manager and clerk.

    The cruise seminar on the Holland America ship was sponsored by the American Board of Legal Medicine, a non-profit for
    lawyers who are doctors or doctors who work within the legal system. The ship sailed in early January of this year. A peek
    at a more recent cruise seminar included training on abortion, stem cell research, HIPPA, euthanasia, and medical
    malpractice, among others.

    While the PA Code does not address keeping costs of required continuing education credits at a minimal cost for seasoned
    staff, Section § 199.22 of the PA Code addresses training costs for newly hired staff.

    "Costs for those persons statutorily required to attend the Basic Education Course will be the minimum necessary to pay
    the cost of instruction, required course materials, and room and board," as per the PA Code.

    RANTS that the County of Fayette cannot afford to pay for such sweet vacations for all of its elected officials, their families
    and departments. Yes, surely, we jest and have to wonder if Vicites and Lohr even read the requisition or considered
    asking the coroner to send his crew for training at a more reasonable venue and cost.  (25 Apr 18)

    Both papers' bias: black and white apparent
    RANTS for the obvious bias in news, as illustrated big as Texas in heraldstandard.com's "Fayette commissioner's attorney
    says lawsuit from business owner should be dismissed" as well as in the Courier's "Fayette County commissioner seeks
    dismissal of lawsuit."

    As readers here and even likely over at those two outlets, too, likely recall, a business owner filed a suit earlier this year, in
    January of 2018, against his two neighbors, a county commissioner and the county, claiming the commissioner threw a
    hissy fit a good decade or so ago that resulted in the county zoning office initiating the filing of a lawsuit against him in 2017
    for ignoring zoning rulings.

    What even we're convinced here that the writers of the above referenced pieces surely must recall -- since at least one also
    wrote the initial story about the suit three months ago -- is that they failed to include the significant bit of information in the
    latest stories that the county of Fayette also was named in the suit as well.

    RANTS when the personal bias against one county commissioner in reporting is this black and white apparent. RANTS to
    both writers and their editors who allowed the bias to go to print. (22 Apr 18)


    Ringer's hypocritical take as campaign manager

    RANTS to political campaign manager Richard Ringer for taking the stupid, naive approach in print today, in his letter to the
    editor on heraldstandard.com. In the letter, Ringer exclaims that it's not routine or right for candidates to challenge
    nominating petitions of their competition because, well, in his opinion, they do so out of fear of competition.

    In "Stefano obviously scared of being opposed in election," Ringer presents as some naive soul witnessing his very first
    political campaign, with the hope that readers are too stupid to recognize some hypocrite trying to forget that the PA House
    Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) routinely prepared legal challenges to all nominating petitions of opponents to
    incumbent Dems in office.

    Given that this is Fayette County and write in candidates have won office here before, nothing is taken for granted -- that is,
    except for some who chose to believe that voters are not as smart as or are not smarter than some candidates and some
    campaign managers may hope. (19 Apr 18)  

    Fay Co prisoners get wrong meds from nurse
    Two inmates at the Fayette County Prison last week reportedly received and swallowed each other's medications by mistake, as
    a nurse wrongly dispensed those two inmates prescribed medications.

    A trusted source at the county prison said inmate Randy R. got and ingested medications prescribed for inmate Mike B., who, in
    turn, wrongly received and swallowed medications prescribed for Randy R.

    "Each man ingested the medications prescribed to the other before the error was recognized," the source said. It is unknown
    what the medications were prescribed for, or what medical follow up was needed, if any, after the wrong medications were
    dispensed to the two inmates.

    RAVES that nobody died in the mix up that could have been just as deadly as delaying inhalers for two hours to those medically
    in need of them after pepper spray filled large areas of the prison.

    It is unknown whether county prison med staff must complete incident reports for medication errors at the prison. RANTS if
    nobody gives a rat's behind, even if such reports are made to the state about medication errors dealing with inmates. ( 18 Apr 18)

    Inmate interview with Jon Jones
    Medication errors out the wazoo at the Fay Co Prison

    As per an interview conducted 4 days ago, by Jon Jones of Uniontown, with an inmate incarcerated for nearly two years at the
    Fayette County Prison, serious medication errors reportedly occur on a regular basis at the county prison.

    These daily occurring medication errors, as per the source, includes: prison staff bringing pills already previously crushed
    somewhere else to dispense to an inmate, when pills are to be dispensed whole, then crushed, in the inmate's presence

    As per this source, another very serious medication error reportedly occurred when prison staff withheld asthma inhalers for
    two hours to a 70-year-old with COPD and others in respiratory distress, after a pepper spray incident not directly involving
    those asking for their inhalers.

    Prison officials reportedly do not segregate inmates known by the population to be infected with MRSA, HIV, and possibly
    tuberculosis, whose waste mixes with that of others, when man-made sewage clogs are created to explode toilets and sinks
    with raw sewage and used toilet paper and remain in inmates' cells for hours or days before it is cleaned up with a lick and a

    As far as other violations go, the inmate also said that:

  • his religious rights are violated with no religious visitation being allowed
  • claims to have seen a counselor only once in two years incarcerated, although he claims he submits request slips "daily."
  • claims inmate mail is not opened in front of inmates as it is supposed to be opened
  • claims books are removed from inmates for "days at a time."

    Some of the county prison corrections officers, as per the source:
  • encourage some inmates to attack other inmates
  • pass through the ranges and housing areas for inspections with their heads down
  • reportedly told an inmate in isolation for suicidal ideation, "I don't care if you starve, die or kill yourself."

    Thanks to Jones for forwarding his interview notes to Rants&Raves and sharing.

    Shut it down!
    Fay Co Prison mental health prisoner, a few others,
    sit in inches of sewage for hours
    RANTS that another Saturday sewage back up appears to be well underway, into its twelfth hour, affecting inmates in at least
    two cells at the Fayette County Prison. Inmates in those two cells, reportedly, are joined in their cells by urine-stained water
    inches deep and toilet paper on the floors and toilet seats.    
    With what one prison source tells Rants&Raves is a mess again of used toilet paper, feces and urine, it is said that at least one
    known mental health inmate is wearing shoes and socks soaked in the sewage back up mess. It is unknown whether that
    particular inmate is responsible for clogging a toilet that caused the back up around 1 AM today.
    It is just known that 12 hours have passed, raw sewage remains clogged and at least one known mental health inmate still sits
    with a clogged toilet and inches of sewage on the floor, in a shared or adjacent cell with another inmate who refuses a
    tuberculosis test and, reportedly, has not spoken at least for a few months.

    RANTS that the Fayette County Prison administration and the union allow this pathetic crap and inhumane treatment of people
    well known to the community mental health system to continue. While nobody reported used tampons in today's sewage back
    up, that's hardly something to cheer about.

    Perhaps female staff and female inmates were schooled in personal care and started tossing those instead into the trash.
    Clearly, nothing else has changed. (14 Apr 18)

    Geyer charged with inappropriate touching of
    teen, providing alcohol
    RANTS that another full-grown adult pillar of the community was charged with plying a 14-year-old female with wine and
    touching her on multiple times over three years in sexually inappropriate areas of her body in his bed, in a series of a dozen or
    so sleep overs in his Connellsville home and on a trip together to New York.
    Given that the accused also has run a popular Scottdale theatrical training and performing arts theater program involving child
    actors, singers and dancers, RAVES of hope that, if these shameful allegations are true, it at least is a twisted, isolated case,
    when he reportedly chose in his mid-30s to get a kid drunk and try to seduce her.  
    RAVES of hope that no other kids were damaged and that no additional charges get filed against Geyer, a former Connellsville
    councilman and aide to a State Senator Pat Stefano.
    Not that anyone here thinks that Stefano should have sensed something very wrong might have been going on with Geyer -- i.e.,
    no more than anyone here would say that people such as Phil Michael and former state legislator Tim Mahoney, with whom
    Geyer was seen publicly before Stefano was elected to office, should have sensed something was odd about their pal.
    No doubt, they are just as floored hearing about Geyer's arrest as the rest of us. (13 Apr 18)


    County ends it with extra meat
    Fay Prison inmates refuse small portion meals

    RAVES that the food pantry and freezer at the Fayette County Prison just happened to have an extra 200-some burgers on hand
    yesterday, when a large portion of inmates refused to accept and eat dinner, saying portions of food were so small, why bother.

    Then, those 200-some extra burgers just, sort of, magically appeared for everyone. Then, those 200-some extra burgers just,
    sort of, magically appeared for everyone.

    At the county prison lunch hour today, Rants&Raves was told that "lunch trays were more robust than normal."     

    RAVES to the inmates for conducting a somewhat effective, short-lived, peaceful protest of the county prison's food service and
    meal portions. And RAVES to the county, one last time, for just having to have an extra 200-some burgers on hand yesterday for

    Another county prison source, meanwhile, reported some inmates may be launching a different kind of protest.  Some,
    Rants&Raves is told, say they want to appear "as dirty and smelly" in court as they feel they do.


    Home on the range: another sewage mess day at Fay Co Prison  

    RANTS that another inmate cell range at the Fayette County Prison remains flooded into the third hour today, with inmates and
    prison staff living and working on floors covered with raw sewage and used toilet paper and tampons.

    While it is unknown at this time if this situation is a result of another intentional clogging of a cell toilet with blankets or bedding
    matting, anyone familiar with the 2017 installation of 44 "clean out units" or "catches," attached to the metal pipes exiting cells
    with screens to catch materials not meant to be flushed, strongly suspects it's just another routine day at the prison with nobody
    willing or available to clear the clog.

    At the time of the installation of the "catches," the former warden was quoted by the Herald Standard* as saying that inmates
    deliberately clogging the sinks or toilets to overflow them would be charged to have the "catches" cleared.

    RANTS because by now, one would think that the prison must be raking in the dough from what seems to be almost daily
    occurrences, as per prison sources incarcerated at or employed by the county. Often, inmates with mental health or cognitive
    disabilities are said to be ones who typically create most clogs.

    By now, one would think that county officials would sternly insist there be a quicker response time to clear the clogs or face the
    reality of needing around the clock prison maintenance to clear the clogs quickly. RANTS because it's a disgusting situation that
    truly does not have to be as bad as it is. (7 Apr 18)   
    * "Sewer line repair set to take place behind Fayette County Prison," published October 25, 2017  
    Jailed Fay guard: previously fired, then sued school District

    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the corrections officer at the Fayette County Prison taken out in handcuffs for
    bringing contraband and drugs into the prison for a female inmate he fancied, once filed suit against the Uniontown School
    District two years ago, after he was terminated from his job as a school security guard.

    While employed by the school district, Michael T. Slater of Connellsville scuffled on the floor with a junior high student after the
    13-year-old punched Slater.

    In that case, Slater was charged in March of 2015 by Uniontown Police, only to have the charges dropped the following month by
    the county district attorney for a lack of evidence.

    However, after the district still chose to terminate him in May of 2015, Slater filed suit two years ago, in March of 2016, against
    the district for wrongful termination and defamation of character.

    RANTS if the district ended up or ends up paying him off for that suit. Given that an inmate currently incarcerated at the prison
    labeled the terminated corrections officer as a recent abuser of mentally ill or cognitively disabled inmates, RAVES of hope that
    the current charges of bringing in drugs to the prison do not get dropped. (6 Apr 18)    

    2 drug arrests this week at the Fay County Prison?

    RANTS of disappointment today hearing that a corrections officer, Michael Slater, at the Fayette County Prison is charged with
    providing drugs to an inmate, with whom he supposedly is involved in a personal relationship.

    Today's arrest follows another made earlier this week, as per a county prison source here. The arrest earlier this week,
    however, reportedly involved a contracted worker who is not a county employee.

    As for Slater being charged today, he was removed from the prison in his corrections uniform for booking and was returned to
    the prison as a charged inmate. The woman reportedly was found with a large amount of pills in a weekend shake down before
    the new county prison warden took over the following week.

    As per court records, the woman was jailed again in late January for failure to pay fines for allowing dogs to run loose. She was
    previously charged and did time in state prison for food stamp fraud. (5 Apr 18)


    Former funeral director tugs on heart strings for pity
    RANTS that the case of the former Uniontown funeral home director, arrested two months ago for stealing $300,000 from 51
    elderly folks for their pre-paid funerals, made such a shameful tug on the hearts of newspaper readers today. He was let out of
    jail last month, after his $500,000 bond was reduced to $150,000 because of health reasons, even though an additional 80 others
    came forward when they heard about his arrest and the amount stolen so likely well exceeds that $300,000 sum.

    RANTS that court papers quoted in today's Herald Standard*, state that the former funeral home director spent $16,000 of the
    stolen money to fund a family member's opioid inpatient rehabilitation care, as though to draw pity for the defendant. RANTS for
    that, because $300,000 minus $16,000 equals $284,000 of other peoples' money stolen and not spend on opioid rehabilitation for
    a family member.

    Given that there are at least 51 theft cases -- and possibly an additional 80 more -- it's pretty safe to assume that some of the 51
    elderly that the former funeral director stole from also paid for opioid treatment for a child or grandchild. (30 Mar 18)

    * "Former funeral director's license officially suspended," Herald Standard, 30Mar18

    Does the county have a prison sewage action plan?

    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a question of whether or not the Fayette County Prison Board has an action plan developed to
    fix the real problems at the county prison once and for all.

    That some prison staff and even the casual observer of daily scuttlebutt about town can pin point a main problem is some
    prisoners stuff items into the toilet and sink and, routinely, there can be long delays in getting someone to clear the sewage
    "catches" installed last year to keep stuffed material from entering the main outgoing sewage line.

    In short, at one time corrections officers said they were told not to clear the catches of stuffed material that causes the toilets
    and sinks in some parts of the prison to explode with bursts of sewage that bubble upward in toilets and spill over onto the
    floors and out onto the catwalk.

    Not so long ago, at least two corrections officers told Rants&Raves that they will not clear catches or flush toilets after they've
    clogged.  The prison has one full-time maintenance worker weekdays who clears the catches during those times. Maintenance
    sometimes is called in at other times, but is not on site or called in enough, in opinion expressed by some prison staff.

    "We tried to get another maintenance worker, but got shot down," one corrections officer recently said here.

    "So if the prison had another maintenance worker or someone other than corrections officers to rely on, to clear sewage catches
    and to clean up other messes when prisoners throw or smear feces, your jobs would be easier and the quality of life for
    prisoners would improve significantly?" he was asked and quickly replied back in the affirmative.

    Fay Prison: Shut it down already!
    RANTS that current conditions at the Fayette County Prison are so bad that it needs to be shut down just as soon as transfers of
    current inmates to other jails can be arranged.
    In a hand-written statement  received from inmate Chris Shellhammer, he wrote of the county prison, "The utter neglect of this
    facility has taken its toll."  Shellhammer is jailed without bond for what he claims is a justifiable homicide of self defense. He
    recorded county prison board meetings and county commissioner meetings for a few years as Chuck U. Farley.
    As per his written statement:

  • Rats are seen on the prison catwalk, especially when sewage drains onto the catwalks.
  • Slime coats the shower and sewer flies come up from the shower drains.
  • There are daily instances of sewage backing up through toilets out onto the catwalks, with wet toilet paper pieces attaching
    to everything they come in contact with.
  • Yellow-tinted water carries bits of fecal matter with it. Even the occasional used tampon makes its way down the block.
  • Inmates' requests put into the Inmate Request Box are not picked up. The box is not regularly checked. This request drop
    off box is the sole means for inmates to send messages to therapists, file complaints, etc.
  • A deposit into the inmate commissary fund was short $11.50 from a $100 deposit.   

    RANTS that sewage "catch" bins installed to prevent intentionally stuffed materials into the toilets from going into the sewage
    system cannot clean themselves and that policies are still not followed in regard to maintaining the commissary fund accurately
    and establishing who exactly and when exactly are corrections officers or maintenance to clean the catches.

    Some things should have been "fixed" long ago.  While the use of pepper spray might have been warranted last night, RANTS
    that emergency inhalers for inmates with medical conditions were not available for two hours after the pepper spray was used
    on innocent bystanders affected in the surrounding prison areas.  (29 Mar 18)                 

    Fayette County Prison's overkill of pepper spray

    RANTS that excessive pepper spray reportedly got so out of control in the air last night inside the Fayette County Prison that it
    permeated a range and ended up affecting more than just the intended inmate target.

    While little else is known about the physical attack and subsequent release of pepper spray in the air, a county prison source
    said that two inmates with asthma and congestive heart failure, who were not at all involved in last night's incident, did not
    receive their breathing inhalers for two hours.

    As per a county prison source, the same corrections officer ordered the pepper spray to be used and is said to have later denied
    requests to open windows to help air out the range. Are prison windows allowed to be open?

    While toxic levels of pepper spray usually causes skin, breathing and eye irritants, toxic levels of pepper spray can also raise
    blood pressure to dangerous levels.

    It is unknown if additional prisoners or prison staff were affected. (28 Mar 18)

    Guard steals, returns inmate's stuff?
    On a positive note, but RANTS that a particular county prison staff reportedly returned items -- i.e., a ring, personal photos,
    paperwork, etc. -- to a county prison inmate, only after the inmate filed a formal complaint about the alleged theft and
    administrative staff reportedly warned charges would be filed if he did not return the jewelry and items.

    RANTS that the protected staff was not charged. More to follow. (28 Mar 18)

    Recalling, missing NES, Fayette Searchlight blogs

    RANTS that the often raved Not Enough Said (NES) blog disappeared online completely sometime back, with no adieu goodbye
    to readers or reasons hinted at or disclosed for stopping publication. NES since is sorely missed for its serious, focused
    investigative pieces on local Fayette Fayette politics, education and community matters.
    RANTS that the absence or removal of the "warts and all" NES website from the web left an impressive size hole in county
    history. It was a favorite read. It's one thing, you know, that the two writers stopped writing NES, but its archieves contained
    some of the best investigative journalism Fayette County has ever known.
    While some often under the NES microscope surely must have danced a jig of happiness and joy when NES disappeared from
    the web, nobody who comes after us will be able to read so much intriguing information, recent time political history and work of
    the two gifted writers. Some of us, most definitely, got to read some things there that we won't ever forget.

    Another subsequently developed website from one of the two former NES editors popped up online from 2015 and 2016.

    Like NES before it, the second website,before it, the second website, Fayette Searchlight, too, left readers hanging when
    publication ceased, during that writer's attempt to learn about expenditures of Tim Mahoney, former state representative.

    The new website questioned whether Mahoney billed the public for his trip to testify for leniency in federal court and release for
    a personal Uniontown friend, a twice-convicted, violent, drug felon on illegal possession of firearm charges who shot at police.

    A few days before Fayette Searchlight's last publication, the website also asked about the $90,000 that Mahoney
    accepted as payment for property that he sold to a well-known, otherwise not employed long-time drug and arms
    dealer and a car lot owner father of a county prison deputy warden.

    That real estate deal happened two years before the FBI stormed through 11 Fayette locations and busted the referenced above
    drug and arms dealer and the father of the county prison deputy warden for selling heroin and cocaine. The FBI raid found
    hundreds of thousands to one million dollars in cash, an Uzi sub machine gun and other weapons. (28 Mar 18)

    Retro "Quote Of The Day" from Fayette Searchlight

    "While Rep. Mahoney chastises “other elected officials” for being late to jump on their anti-drug soap boxes, in May
    2015, in the wake of the May 5 drug raid (and subsequent indictments), when the rubber met the road, Rep. Tim
    Mahoney went more silent than a group of mimes at a marathon game of Quaker's Meeting."
    Fayette Searchlight, an exert from "Mahoney's Broken Soap Box," published in October of 2016, about one
    month before the website stopped publication

    A tale of two way different airport surveys

    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a hope that readers will click on these links to see how two different entities operating with
    some public money compiled different surveys to determine the interests and need for possible expansion at the county airport.

    The first survey has been available on the county's website home page. It's a straight-forward, basic survey, asking tenants or
    perspective airport tenants about future services.

    The airport's own survey is in sharp contrast to a second one circulated by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce that lists
    pricey charter costs, such as $29,000 for a one-way flight for up to six passengers to Houston, Texas. (27 Mar 18)


    Dowling rips back

    RAVES that PA Rep Matt Dowling picked up his pen to answer the letter to the editor that his predecessor and current opponent
    from the 51st District sent to the area papers. In "Rep. Dowling questions why his opponent wishes to silence public," in today's
    Daily Courier, Dowling reminds readers that he "joined a bipartisan majority to pass new reforms" that limit the length of time
    opioids can be prescribed and provide funding for treatment.

    In short, Dowling wrote of his 15 months in office, "I have taken concrete steps forward in this fight -- more steps than Mr. (Tim)
    Mahoney ever took during the decade he had to take action."

    RAVES that Dowling took issue with the fact that Mahoney "used the power of his official office to seek a pardon" for a local
    doctor whose medical license was revoked after a conviction in the 1990s of Medicare fraud, only to be charged and jailed again
    following a 2015 FBI raid for "running a pill mill " at a largely Medicaid-funded Methadone clinic.

    Dowling wrote in today's letter to the editor that the doctor was "one of Mahoney's biggest campaign donors just months before
    he pushed for that pardon."

    RAVES because to date, only bloggers had the you know what to broach that particular topic. (27 Mar 18)


    Mahoney rips Dowling in letter to the editor

    RAVES, had today's letter to the editor in the Daily Courier, "Real help needed to combat opioids in Fayette County," been
    written by an Average Joe, a blue or white collar worker in private business during the years 2013-2016, when opioids, heroin
    and fentanyl definitely already made their cataclysmic presence known in Fayette County.

    At least, if Average Joe had penned the letter blasting current PA Rep Matt Dowling, we could say he's entitled to his opinion,
    biased or not, to fault Dowling for wanting to talk to citizens and offer community outreach.

    RANTS that the letter, however, was written by Tim Mahoney, former state representative for one long decade, from 2006-2016,
    who told a town meeting crowd a month before losing re-election, "We've lost this war with drugs this generation. There's just
    no doubt about it."

    RAVES, though, that at least now Mahoney seems to feel for parents or family members living today with an addict by not
    repeating his negative comment that drove a stake through some parents' hearts and offering pre-election hope that building
    treatment facilities are the answer. (26 Mar 18)


    "Quotes Of The Day" on politicians hitting the group dinner circuit

    "Every day it seems the local paper has a front page story of school shooting threats, community-wide shootings or pictures of
    local politicians doing little newsworthy but getting free advertising to promote their next election."
    Bob, a new guy at the diner, reading and thinking aloud, grabbing the attention of this column's hosts, Dave and Pete, who
    accepted sizable bets 15 minutes earlier from their spouses that the duo could completely refrain from talking politics today
    and focus on family and pleasantries.

    "Why, take, for instance, the NRA banquet this week. The politicians came out in force, and in groups. The losers of previous
    elections... some who've already publicly announced running and some campaign workers, and that new kid -- I can't remember
    his name... You don't usually see too many politicians or candidates at the annual NRA fundraiser..."
    Bob, going on and on to the waitress and, ironically, to Pete and Dave's spouses, that "Gerard, Mahoney, Palumbo, a young
    guy and two of Ambrosini's crew" sat together, while "Stephano, Lohr, Lion were there together" and "Warner, and Dowling
    were at a table with others

    "I know Vicites wasn't there."
    Pete's wife, who said she wanted to ask if she could talk sometime soon to him about how inmates at the county jail on
    suicide watch are treated   

    "She knows first hand admission and drinks were not free. She's really baiting us. Lets get out of here because I'm about to lose
    the bet!"
    Pete, leaning over to whisper to Dave, putting down his tab and tip, standing to put on his jacket to leave, telling the ladies
    they'd be outside waiting and wanting to take up smoking again

    For signing contract before getting board approval
    FC jail warden chastised while wearing his AG board pres hat
    RANTS that the new county jail warden signed a school district business contract in his role as president of the Albert Gallatin
    School Board prior to discussing the contract at a public school board meeting. This action prompted a fellow board member to
    call for his resignation.

    Jeff Myers, the president of the school board and newly named county prison warden, however, claimed he signed the
    agreement with the understanding that the school district contract with a contractor to use a vacant building as headquarters for
    a school construction project, was invalid unless approved formally by the board at a public meeting.

    Although Myers claimed he did nothing wrong, the school district, nonetheless, received keys back from the contractor for the
    building until things were done properly.

    RAVES of hope that Myer's actions in this nasty situation at the school district is not a sign of the way he will conduct official
    county business at the prison. (23 Mar 18)       


    County prison critic headed to trial

    RANTS that the homicide charge against Chris Shellhammer, also known as videographer Chuck U. Farley, is held for court after
    today's kangaroo court preliminary hearing in Masontown. Shellhammer has been held without bond in the county prison since a
    fatal shooting on January 15 that he claimed was self defense after being set up for robbery.

    RANTS that the court in the County of Fayette is denying bond and proceeding on with a murder case that's only witness has
    changed her story a couple times since the shooting and her television news interviews hours right after the shooting.

    RANTS that the court of Fayette really believes charges were rightfully filed in the first place. Police and the district attorney's
    office have copies of text messages sent between the accused and the female witness, from about one week before the
    shooting, when she promised the accused oral sex for $20 worth of pot, to a few minutes before the shooting, when she assured
    the accused she was home alone and ready for fun.

    RANTS that no forensic investigator worth his or her salt would believe that the accused burst into the couple's home, shot three
    times at a man who collapsed quickly, yet arrived at the police station beaten, with a concussion, broken nose, broken jaw and
    neck injury.

    Masontown Police, however, didn't buy the self-defense claim and booked the accused for murder. Now it's officially going to
    trial and really should not be.

    mention of the pot found in the accused's vehicle stated weight of 1.6 grams. However, that higher weight amount also included
    the weight of the plastic bag. As per a Google search, .86 grams of pot is about one joint of pot.)

    RANTS because nobody getting the shit kicked out of him, who shoots as a last resort in self defense, should be incarcerated
    now over two months without bond and unable to resume his role as primary care giver to two disabled children. (21 Mar 18)


    Editor's Note: Shortly after the below piece was published, an email was received from Mike Zavada, deputy warden, who said he
    could not locate anything on surveillance video to indicate the door was left unlocked.

    However, Zavada did state, "I do know that the prison's lock smith was working on the door in question around the time period that
    I was first made aware of the complaint."

    It is also noted here that card keys and keys do not open that door. Staff or visitors using the door must be buzzed in by someone
    inside.  R&R also thanks Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, who did acknowledge the request for information sent on 3-11-18 and
    on 3-20-18 stated she received no response from other prison board members and would ask again for confirmation on what any
    investigation since 3-11-18 showed.

    Update: FC Prison door
    While the Fayette County Prison Board has not responded to a complaint received here 11 days ago that the side jail door, as
    seen in a photo to the right, was left open for a lengthy period of time, an employee of the prison said the door appeared to be
    properly locked or closed, in his opinion. He said that the metal mesh cover is attached with screws to the glass door and is all
    one piece.

    As per that jail staff, there is no way to have the glass door left open or ajar with props, and have the mesh cover be closed to
    allow air flow into the building.  They are not two separate pieces and the vertical line, as seen to the left of the blue line in the
    second picture to the right, must be a reflection in the glass when the photo was taken.

    In response to hearing the original photographer's comments -- that he could tell the door was open and could hear noises
    inside the jail -- the jail source said if anyone walks, for instance, between the jail and courthouse during a football game, the
    walker would "swear you're in a room with them," referring to the inmates inside.

    The noise, he said, easily comes to the outside through the glass block windows. Anyone who doubts this, he said, should stand
    under the bridge between the jail and courthouse in the afternoon at 3 o'clock.

    As per that source, anyone standing outside there could easily overhear an officer inside the jail conducting 3 PM head count.  
    RAVES of appreciation to the peon guards who responded to clarify the matter. (21 Mar 10)

    RIP: Florence "Shutsy" Reynolds
    RAVES to the amazing life of Florence "Shutsy" Reynolds, a charter member of the World War II Women's Air Force Service
    Pilots, who passed away three days ago, at the age of 95.  

    That Reynolds and approximately 1,074 other young women of their day wanting to become military pilots paid for their own
    flight training, transportation to the Texas training base, and later, their own ticket home from Europe, is a simply incredible
    piece of history to recognize in itself.

    These young civilian women, who stepped up when the military experienced a shortage of male pilots at the start of the second
    World War, flew more than 60 million miles during the war.

    In some cases, they risked their lives to test fly repaired planes before male military pilots were allowed to fly them again, only
    to be denied their military veteran's status until 1977 by the Pentagon. Congress awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal in
    2010 at a ceremony that Reynolds and 171 other surviving female pilots attended.  

    RAVES that this first female to fly in and out of the airport in Connellsville was honored during her lifetime with a new airport
    hanger named after her. RAVES that determined, young women such as Reynolds, born in 1923, pursued their dreams in spite of
    the sexist hurdles that the military and world in general created to stifle those dreams.  

    May real heroes such as Reynolds encourage not only today's young girls, but all with overwhelming obstacles, to still pursue
    their dreams. (18 Mar 18)

    "Quote Of The Day" or hints that a new jail is coming

    "I'm primarily on the prison board as a... um... primarily, because I'm hoping to get a new prison built..."
    Judge  Steve P. Leskinen, at Friday's special prison board meeting, as heard here at this link at 0:35, discussing the need
    for the county to build a new jail to house mentally ill inmates in a humane way
    a new jail to house mentally ill inmates in a humane way

    "New digs isn't the answer; a new building won't resolve the current problem or get you better staff unless you train them
    properly and reprimand them effectively."
    All of us, thinking to ourselves, when we cringed hearing the judge speak

    To watch the video of the entire special Prison Board Meeting from 16 Mar 18, please click on the links below.

    Part 1: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1622ea4824f1f253?projector=1   
    Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZctG-XXIiiw                
    Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dEqnAasYjU             
    Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-fL9E3_uJ4     
    Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcvVetWGCeQ         
    Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPniuj3GGG0   


    Inmate rants about county jail's mental health treatment, torture

    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a highly serious note that written word is received here from an inmate at the Fayette County
    Prison, expressing concern about the jail in general, but specifically focusing on the tragic situation of a fellow inmate well-
    known for decades to the community behavioral health system.

    "I'm sure that my time in this hell pales in comparison to that of my neighbor," wrote inmate Chris S., about Bobby A., someone
    so mentally unstable he plays in and eats his own feces.

    Chris feels Bobby was placed in the Special Management Unit (SMU) or suicide unit at the jail "so he could be ignored."

    Saying that "no employee at this prison is prepared or trained to deal with such a case," Chris said of Bobby, who he describes
    as violent and disruptive.

    "But it's not intentional. Bobby is incapable of comprehending what is going on," Chris explained. He should know. They spent
    about two weeks together, in the basement seclusion unit, in the extreme winter cold with windows open, lying on metal cots,
    naked, wet, living in feces and urine with lights broken in the basement of the county prison.   

    "Bed mats provided to him always end up torn open, covered in waste and stuffed into his non functioning sink and toilet," Chris
    said of Bobby.

    "From there, these items get tossed around the range," Chris said, adding that Bobby's tossed soiled mats landed and stayed
    for 10 hours into Chris' area before the mess was cleaned. With no mat, Bobby, a very large man, with sores over his body and
    very swollen legs, sleeps on a metal cot or small bench.

    "(Bobby) can't walk without doubling over in pain and getting threatened with petter spray for doing so. On top of all this, he is
    verbally abused by inmates and guards alike. Antagonizing him to his breaking point until he is screaming obscenities, banging
    around his cells, and eventually in tears talking to himself," Chris said.

    Chris, who denies suicidal ideation, said he himself was placed in the basement isolation unit because the jail staff thought he
    was suicidal.

    "The SMU has been over-utilized by prison staff for the smallest infraction," Chris said of the basement horror unit. To put
    suicidal or handicapped individuals in this unit is irresponsible and dangerous. Torture is not an inaccurate description of life
    down there." he said. (14 Mar 18)

    17-minute student walk-out teaches more than
    yesterday's history class
    RAVES to the school districts nationwide to allow its secondary school students to chose whether to take part in a 17-minute
    walk-out or protest of school violence, in memory of 17 lives lost in Florida one month ago. The walk out is also to demand
    stricter gun laws and school security.

    Besides the intended purpose of what is supposed to be a 10 AM movement across the country of students, RAVES that the 17
    minutes of supervised movement, from school to outdoors, of what likely will be most students, teaches them how to protest an
    issue peacefully.

    RAVES to the younger generation who still want to go to school in spite of the school shootings and threats of violence.
    Hopefully, these types of activities help students cope a bit better with school violence reality. (14 Mar 18)


    Fay County jail door kept ajar?
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a mind boggling note with a photo of a Fayette County Prison door kept ajar yesterday that
    deserves to be addressed.  

    As per the photographer, the door -- believed to be a staff entrance -- was kept ajar at least for several hours yesterday late
    afternoon and evening, when outdoor temperatures were in the lower 30s. The photo shows what appears to be a small piece of
    beam or chunk of something propping open an interior door.

    Email was sent to prison board members to confirm this is a staff entrance and to inquire why this security risk is allowed --
    even if, say for instance, the jail furnace malfunctioned and it was overly hot inside.

    While the source did not attempt to touch, open or pass through either door pictured and did not get overly close to the
    entrance, the source notes that the door looked like this and was open at various times checked from approximately 5:30 PM
    through 9 PM yesterday.

    Surely, there had to be an armed guard stationed right inside the entrance in the event someone not allowed might attempt to
    enter or leave contraband? Right?

    Given the recent complaints that suicidal inmates are kept in a very cold basement and lie wet on cold, metal cots, the jail
    administration seriously does not need any additional controversy, such as a door kept ajar to let freezing cold air from outside
    into the structure. (11 Mar 18)


    2nd inmate: cruel and unusual punishment?
    RANTS because a second case of cruel and unusual punishment seems to go hand-in-hand with a second case of inmate
    isolation at the Fayette County Prison. This inmate is someone very well-known to the community mental health system for at
    least 20-30 years, and has been inpatient at state hospital psychiatric units.

    RANTS because even the worst of bullies don't deserve to be heckled by all around him, when he's in isolation for psychiatric
    restraint. Email was sent to the county prison board members asking when he will transfer to the state psychiatric hospital. (8
    Mar 18)  


    Former public works director
    Sansone missed the boat on this lawsuit
    RANTS that the lawyer who has handled a few civil lawsuits for county workers finally has a case he should win based on
    political vendetta, but files, instead,  a suit for unlawful termination based on age discrimination.

    Back on August 16, 2017, this column asked if the sudden canning of the former director of county public works would become
    the county's next lawsuit. We thought it might be. Or should be.

    To be honest, we kind of hoped he would not just go away quietly. He earned the respect of this column by always knowing
    specific work details and having informative updates of his department's projects, without having to look at notes to guide him.

    As previously quoted here, his hiring in 2013 was one of the very few good things a former commissioner did in four years in
    office.  We meant that sincerely.     

    RANTS that his lawyer missed the boat and should have filed the suit that the man's termination was for political affiliation. From
    the public's point of view, the former director of public works seemed to be good staff who did the best he could under the
    circumstances. (6 Mar 18)


    Jailhouse critic: in isolation with no pencil  

    RANTS because mental health treatment hit a whole new, embarrassing low in Fayette County, as demonstrated in the case of
    an inmate at the county jail. He wrote something perceived by jail administrators to be suicidal ideation expression and was
    placed in isolation, into a Turtle Suit, with a one on one guard. His ability to make phone calls or write letter ended 10 days ago,
    as well.

    Since that time, he was seen on two subsequent Saturdays by family members. Last weekend, his father said the young man
    reeked of feces and was filthy, was kept in a room reeking of smeared feces and pepper spray.

    A few days after the young man wrote what others perceived as suicidal ideation, he met with an attorney who was very
    positive about his criminal case. The young man was not suicidal. His suicidal watch should have been lifted.

    Still, the attorney to date has filed no motions to judges to intervene in this man's isolation matter or criminal case. Meanwhile,
    he still has not phoned home yet in 10 days. His parents maintained this week that he must still be in suicidal prevention
    isolation or must still be denied phone privileges. His sons' mother, who visited him yesterday, confirmed he is still in isolation,
    in a Turtle suit and unable to write or phone home.

    Prior to writing what jail administrators perceived to be suicidal ideation, the inmate also wrote complaints about prison
    handbook violations published in social media and identified a prison guard, who, in the inmate's words, taunted another inmate
    wanting toilet paper that he could wipe with his discharge or release papers.

    His mail, reportedly, was tampered with against prison policy. Mail to him about his 4-year-old son's physical therapies was
    returned to sender, with the writing of the letters, "WTF" written on the opened and re-sealed envelope.  

    While the jail administration certainly had a responsibility to assess the young man for any suicidal ideation they thought he
    might have, they seem to have gone beyond reason with an undeserving stay of 10 days in isolation in a Turtle suit. That's
    hardly a positive psychiatric treatment -- i.e., if they're really trying to pass this whole 10 days of isolation as a necessary
    treatment course.

    Shame on Fayette County, if this is treatment. Prisoners of war know they were made to sit in and smell feces as part of the
    enemy's plan to brainwash them and break them. This isn't wartime in the 1930s and 1950s.

    If this is example of the best psychiatric care that inmates can have at the Fayette County Prison in 2018, then please close the
    place down today. Quickly, before they start using leaches.  (4 Mar 18)