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Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

Wolf Extorting Lebanon County for CARES Act Funding

tom wolf lebanon county cares act agreement

tom wolf lebanon county cares act agreement

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lebanon County Commissioners reached an agreement Friday that gets the rogue county its $12.8 million in CARES Act funding.

That’s the $12.8 million Wolf’s been withholding from Lebanon County since it decided to abandon the Governor’s color-coded coronavirus reopening plan. And that’s the plan that superseded the initial narrative that Pennsylvanians would have to close businesses and lose millions of jobs in order to “flatten the curve” to not overwhelm hospitals in the state.

Remember, Schuylkill County planned to take the same course as Lebanon but changed its mind days after sending a letter to Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine saying it would move itself into Wolf’s Yellow phase. In the Yellow phase of that reopening plan, the Stay at Home order was lifted and allowed some businesses to reopen.

Wolf and Lebanon County Reach Deal on CARES Act Funding

But when you read the language of the deal Wolf and Lebanon County reached on Friday, it reads more like extortion and less like a mutually agreed-upon deal.

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Of course, that’s not how Wolf spun the accord when he announced it.

First, the most important part of the deal was that Lebanon County the $12.8 million it was due from an allocation of the CARES Act. And one part of the deal actually spells out how that money will be spent. That’s something we haven’t seen from Schuylkill County and how it’s managing its CARES Act money.

Deal Requirement: Tell Everyone How Greats Masks Work

But not all of that $12.8 million is going to help every resident of Lebanon County. Part of the deal requires Lebanon County spend $2.8 million on a public advertising campaign on the benefits of wearing a mask.

If Lebanon County didn’t agree to this part of the deal, then there was no deal.

Here’s what the settlement between Lebanon County and Wolf actually says:

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“The County understands and agrees that it will forfeit in an amount up to but not to exceed the total CARES Act County Block Grant provided to the County under this agreement, the opportunity to receive future grants relating to COVID-19, or administered by the Office (of the Governor), DCED, or the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget if it fails to adhere to the terms of this Agreement or the terms of the Grant program.”

Here’s how Wolf spun it in an announcement to make it sound less extorting:

“I’m pleased that Lebanon County will launch a campaign to encourage the use of face masks.”

Silence, Plebes

Another part of the deal that the Governor won’t tell you about is the silence he’s demanding from Lebanon County Commissioners.

Wolf forbids them from publicly criticizing any part of the deal or his coronavirus reopening plan. Because again, if they do, he’ll yank away that CARES Act funding a lot faster than he eventually dished it out.

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This is what the deal Wolf and Lebanon County actually says:

“Through a mutually agreed upon press release and statement, the County will announce its support for and intent to comply with the Governor’s orders and Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania and will, in each announcement, urge all Lebanon County residents to abide by those orders. Neither party will make any disparaging comments or remarks relative to this dispute between the Parties or the terms of this agreement.”

That sounds like Lebanon County is one step shy of being forced to release one of those hostage videos. Actually, it sounds exactly like extortion.

And again, Wolf doesn’t say that’s what in the deal. Instead, he says:

“Throughout the process, I have remained committed to helping the people of Lebanon County and we have found a solution to directly inject nearly $13 million into the community. My hope is the money will help businesses to succeed and pay workers and allow important local organizations to provide vital services that people need.”

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Just as he has throughout the entire pandemic, Wolf totally disregards anyone else’s opinion and voice but his own. And then Wolf attempts to paint himself as some type of benevolent leader.

Reactions to the Deal

US Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9) released a statement related to the deal. He says Wolf continues to act politically vindictive.

“Unfortunately, the settlement reached yesterday by the Governor and the County further perpetuates the unfair political attack against the residents of Lebanon County,” Meuser says. “All of this funding was intended to help businesses open, provide assistance for our schools and support our frontline workers. They were NOT meant to be used for a public relations campaign. To siphon off $2.8 million of that critical funding on a campaign to encourage individuals to wear masks is excessive, wasteful and hurts the Lebanon County residents meant to receive this support.

“This Governor has proven time and time again that he favors petty politics over the interests of the hardworking people of Lebanon County. It’s a mindboggling decision made during a pandemic,” Meuser adds.

In a Facebook post expressing extreme disapproval with the deal between Lebanon County and Wolf, State Rep. Russ Diamond really goes after the Governor:

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“I know you think you were being cute or clever or whatever with that $2.8 million demand for Lebanon County to launch a mask promotion, but here’s the thing: it will change ZERO minds and those of us who ignore your dopey mask policy will now just do it with more resolve and glee.

“BTW, way to screw over those in our community with mental health needs (there’s a whole lot of them thanks to your tomfoolery). Oh yeah, our fire companies could’ve used a little money too since your data-free lockdown decisions shuttered some of the social clubs that support them.

“I hope your ego is all better now. I guess you’re large and in charge, huh? Well, except on those tough decisions about schools and sports. On those you just stepped back, just like you did on your duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens in long term care facilities. Over 5,000 dead, guv. That’s on you. That’s your legacy. Own it.”

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  1. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 12:57 am

    Wolf was doing the right thing here. Withholding this counties funding until they recognized the governor’s directive. We’re trying to contain covid not spread it. There are states who have done it the right way like New York and New Jersey who have seen massive reductions in covid cases. Then there are states like Florida who are now in a shitstorm because of (R)Gov.DeSantis who are now begging Trump to bail him out. Republican states everywhere are having problems containing the virus. Also, the healthcare system is falling apart especially in rural areas where hospitals are shutting down because of it. Thank God Wolf is our Governor and not that ass clown Scott Wagner. We would be in worse shape than Florida.

    • Canary Commenter

      August 16, 2020 at 1:55 am

      What’s hilarious is that I think you believe what you say. Now, imagine if Trump withheld funding from someone. You’d lose your mind and call him a dictator. But if Wolf acts like a dictator, as he’s doing here, you applaud it and kid yourself into believing that he’s doing the right thing. Conversely, sensible people would look at this situation and not wish any official, Republican or Democrat, act like this for fear when their party isn’t in power, the other side doesn’t reciprocate. You do you, bud.

    • PTFloridians

      August 20, 2020 at 10:09 am

      Florida is in great shape, with 1/2 the deaths and double the population. Herd immunity has lessened severity, lowered deaths and almost put an end to this unique seasonal virus.

  2. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 8:26 am

    No Canary it depends on the situation. If for example, Trump had a color coded coronavirus response mechanism and a state wasn’t following it I’d agree with him but he didn’t. Wolf did what he should have done because we’re trying to prevent the spread of the virus. He’s done a pretty good job of it too because you people think he should reopen the bars and restaurants to full capacity. If he did that we would end up with a situation like Florida has now and the healthcare system in this state would be in shambles.

    • Canary Commenter

      August 16, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      You’d still find a way to criticize it. If you need color-coded systems to help you through life, what the heck are you doing on a big boy site like this? Your Leapfrog busted or something?

  3. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Finding a way to criticize it? The states aren’t equipped to handle a pandemic. That’s not criticism, that’s the TRUTH. Trump just didn’t want to help the states which is what is different than what Wolf did. Wolf wasn’t withholding funds because he didn’t want to help out that county but because they didn’t want to follow his covid policies. This state can’t AFFORD 10 to 15,000 covid cases a day. Florida is a good example of what NOT to do during a pandemic. It is clear to me you’re a nutjob with sociopathic tendencies.

    • PTFloridians

      August 26, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      The states ARE supposed to be prepared for pandemics, lawless uprisings, disasters, etc…they simply have poor budgetary practices…look at Mr Sausage Meatball maker in New York…not prepared or stockpiled for ANYTHING and then blames the President. It’s about time the DOJ investigate the 4 slayer states for their nursing home policies.

      • PTFloridians

        August 26, 2020 at 9:29 pm

        …all Democrat/Socialist run by the way…

  4. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Also canary, I see Wolf set aside 96 million for small business. Why didn’t you post that?

    • Canary Commenter

      August 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      Because of all the small businesses he destroyed. You can’t destroy and then pretend to care about their suffering. If you want to see that nonsense, go watch WNEP or read what Skook News copy-pasted on the subject.

  5. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    He didn’t destroy small business. Trump did. His lack of leadership made this worse. He made serious mistakes from the beginning. This would have been contained and the rebuilding process would have begun already.

    • Canary Commenter

      August 16, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      Your thirst for a despot truly is unquenchable.

  6. Jason Bourne

    August 16, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    You just think like a sociopath. Trying to project some false sense of normalcy in the middle of a pandemic. The outcome would have been much different with better leadership. Less loss of life and a return back to normal much sooner with a leader who would have taken this serious from the beginning. His lack of empathy has been his biggest downfall. This would be much worse if not for some good governor’s who actually listen to the advice from doctors and medical professionals. You’re an idiot. You would have killed millions of people and our healthcare system would have completely fallen apart.

    • Frank

      August 17, 2020 at 8:32 am

      I am guessing you don’t own a small business affected by the governor. He is against the little guy. Home Depot, Walmart, Wolf caters to. I could go on and on about how idiotic small business was and is treated, but you don’t want to see or hear about that.

      2.2 million US deaths was the projection in the US. Looks like Trump saved about 2 million people.

      • Tweener

        August 19, 2020 at 7:46 pm

        Trump “saved”? Two million people???Did Jeffrey Dahmer save 590,000 Milwaukee residents by giving up meat???Give me a break!!!!

  7. Jason Bourne

    August 17, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Please Frank. The government has been catering to corporations for years now. Most corporations pay zero or very little in taxes and receive billions of corporate welfare. Both Dems and Republicans feed the corporate welfare system. Restaurants and bars had to be regulated because they are the places people go without masks because you don’t eat or drink a beer with a mask on. The states covid cases have been down for 3 straight weeks now. He also set aside 96 million for small businesses. If he didn’t do anything we would be like Florida with 15,000 cases a day. We can’t afford it. The healthcare system would fall apart.

    • Frank

      August 17, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      $96 million for small businesses. Paid for by small businesses. Wow that should save them all.
      Do you realize how many small businesses are in PA? About 1 million. Do the math. That’s $96 per small business. Might pay a water bill for a month. What a gift!

      2.2 million US deaths was the projection in the US. Looks like Trump saved about 2 million people.

  8. Jason Bourne

    August 17, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Frank, what do you want him to do? Do you want him to open it up prematurely and have a covid outbreak. It’s like you people don’t care about public health. And it’s not like small business pays for everything. Us taxpayers pay too you know.

    • Frank

      August 19, 2020 at 9:19 am

      No, the small business owner does not pay for everything in PA. The small business owner pays about half of all the wages in PA, as well as taxes on the income to PA. Not to mention numerous local municipal and school taxes. The $96 per small business, funded by small business, should really help.

      Looks like Trump not only cares about public health but actually has results.

      2.2 million US deaths was the projection in the US. Looks like Trump saved about 2 million people.

  9. We’re (D)ifferent

    August 17, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Orange man bad. Stop the spread. Beep bop boop

  10. Jason Bourne

    August 19, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Frank, you actually had a good point until praising Trump for saving 2.2 million lives. That’s a crock. He let this get out of hand. He ignored the warnings from his doctor and turned down a request for 4 billion dollars worth of masks and PPE for healthcare workers. Also, if he would have had a federal mask mandate much earlier this virus wouldn’t have been able to spread so quickly. He also fought with states who needed federal funding because the states aren’t equipped to handle a pandemic. We have 5.5 million cases of covid and 170,000 plus deaths. There is no win here for Trump. On the small business front I think you have a point. If you can send the kids back to school why not reopen the bars and restaurants.

    • Frank

      August 20, 2020 at 12:03 am

      2.2 million US deaths was the projection in the US. Looks like Trump saved about 2 million people.

      If you are blaming Trump for the deaths, and the science projected 2.2 million US deaths, should not he then get credit for 2 million lives saved?

    • Jason Bourne

      August 20, 2020 at 1:23 am

      What did he actually do to get praise for saving 2.2 million lives? Really? And where are you getting this 2.2 million projection? I remember when they projected 2 million cases but we far exceeded that expectation.

      • Jason Bourne

        August 20, 2020 at 1:27 am

        • PTFloridians

          August 20, 2020 at 8:34 am

          Where’d you get your degree for macrobullshit?…

        • Jason Bourne

          August 20, 2020 at 9:22 am

          York College of PA. Where’d you get your degree in philosophy? Out of a Cracker Jack Box Mr.1984. Make weight. I’m tired of playing around with you.

          • PTFloridians

            August 20, 2020 at 12:05 pm

            Most of us here might surmise that you wasted your money, and got your brain swapped out by aliens, as well. Did you pay or did someone else pay?
            …life, the longer you live, allows you to see things from a broader perspective, through experience. You become a bit more cynical and question everything. It’s called wisdom.

        • Frank

          August 20, 2020 at 4:07 pm

          I understand you always have to have the last word. They call that an egomaniac. So go ahead.

          • Jason Bourne

            August 20, 2020 at 8:35 pm

            First of all, that’s a global projection. Second of all, it’s not even over yet. And Frank tell me exactly what he has done to take credit for anything related to covid. It’s been the states who have slowed down the spread at least the smart ones. They didn’t project anything near the 170,000 deaths we already have because they didn’t take it serious enough from the beginning. And you know he didn’t to. But see you’re just a republican minion who like a religion votes Republican because you truly have no understanding of sociology or economics. It’s either that or your just a racist or both.

        • Jason Bourne

          August 20, 2020 at 5:40 pm

          Yeah that’s what is Frank. Egomaniac. No, it’s about being right. You just make shit up to defend your President. There’s no defending him on this one. I’m supposed to praise him for saving 2 million lives. Give me a break. You weren’t even close on that one. Trumpsters have nothing factual and crazy conspiracy theories. The crazier it is the more you believe it Funny, even Republican strategist know you’re crazy. I’ve read articles where they say they embrace you crazies because they need your vote but also keep their distance from you. Keep on Qanon, nutjobs!

  11. Jason Bourne

    August 20, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Whatever PT. Governor DeSantis is begging Trump for money because they’re in horrible economic shape due to the pandemic. There numbers only started going down when DeSantis started putting in smarter policy to combat the virus. The healthcare system in Florida is in dissaray. You act like the death ratio is the only thing to worry about when it comes to covid. Neurological disorders and respitory problems are also side effects from covid. Some people have lost 30% lung capacity due to covid. Also, a nice big bill from the hospital to boot. The effects of being an idiot “no maskers” such as yourself. Thanks to people like you and your stupid President the physical economy is in need of “significant” stimulus package or there’s a serious risk of it crashing.

  12. Jason Bourne

    August 20, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    You’re hilarious PT!

  13. Jason Bourne

    August 26, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Well they aren’t Low T. Like your state of Florida begging for money. The pandemic affects every state and should be handled in a Federal level. That’s why there’s a CDC motherfucker. Your President is the idiot who cut it.

    • PTFloridians

      August 27, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Name calling is weak and terribly disrespectful…there’s simply no need for it.
      …the CDC budget, in 2020, is, in fact 7% larger than the Obama Cartel’s budget.

  14. Jason Bourne

    August 26, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    You just talk shit sitting there. You wouldn’t be talking that shit to my face. You don’t know me. Like I said, don’t mistake kindness for weakness. That would be a big mistake.

    • PTFloridians

      August 27, 2020 at 7:58 am

      You’re weak and pathetic…and not kind at all…get lost loser.

  15. Jason Bourne

    August 27, 2020 at 8:12 am

    You’re an idiot. You’re the anarchist who think cuts make the world go round. Then wonder why your schools and roads are in the condition they are. You people make me laugh. You think business comes before the people and wonder why your corporate government doesn’t give a shit about you or your shit small business.

    • Canary Commenter

      August 27, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Most people here don’t view government as the solution to anything. They’re looking to get government out of their way. Government is one thing that screwed over the coal region time and again. But you for some reason think that it’ll be the solution to all the problems you think you have.

  16. Jason Bourne

    August 27, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Oh you mean the corporate government who runs the show. The corporate government who takes your tax money and gives it to the corporations who pay no taxes and receives corporate welfare in the billions. How do you remain a country without a government? Canary you’re the one who is always talking about the downtown. Corporations like Walmart just suck the money right out of your area. Very little of the money they make here stays here. The race to the bottom. They can’t protect your stupid ass from what will occur. I hate to tell you Canary but corporations aren’t free market they seek to control them.

    Johan Wolfgang von Goethe said it best: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely think they’re free.” You’re far from free in that.

  17. Jason Bourne

    August 27, 2020 at 9:32 am

    That’s why there needs to be publicly funded elections. Because the donor classes big checks and their special interests are more important than you or I. If you think though that you can go without government you’re sorely mistaken because they will never be able to protect you from those monsters.

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