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Friday, May 8, 2009

The Hawkeye witch hunt

Early this morning, WILK’s Kevin and Nancy were discussing the steroids issue, since Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers was banned from MLB for 50 games after testing positive for a banned substance.

And at some point, Nancy asked, if other teen phenoms were all using steroids, should one allow their own kid--their own teen phenom--to do likewise just to stay competitive.

Nope. No doping. No steroids. Just teach them how to throw a knuckleball, and then sit back and watch them enjoy an injury-free twenty-year career. Perhaps even twenty-five.

You know, this ill-advised Hawkeye dustup has gone from the surreal to the sublime.

From the Times Leader:

In other business, the mayor addressed concerns raised about the Hawkeye Security project, noting that Hawkeye had been created in order to operate separately from the city, like a board or an authority.

It was not established as a board or authority, but as a non-profit entity, he told questioner Jim Hayward, and all steps had been taken with legal advice.
The security camera project had been done publicly, and council had been aware of the progress of the project, if not the exact form of the nonprofit operating the project, he said after the meeting. Questions Hayward raised about procedural issues – whether requests for proposals were used in place of bids, or whether the Hawkeye meetings were subject to the state’s open meeting laws – were not addressed.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Thursday night’s council meeting also featured more discussion regarding Hawkeye Security Solutions, the nonprofit corporation created by the city to oversee the $2 million surveillance camera network, which is still in the planning stages.

Jim Hayward, the city administrator under the previous mayor, and Sam Troy, a frequent speaker at council meetings, questioned city officials on the way Hawkeye was created, and its role in the project.

“The decisions seem to have been made rather opaquely,” Troy said.

With what has become a frequent refrain at the meetings, Leighton said Hawkeye, like a city board or authority, was created to insulate the city from financial and legal liability.

“It’s a great project,” Leighton said of the camera network. “Nothing has been done illegally.”

While that’s enough stupidity for one month, we weren’t done yet. Nah, some “Jim from Wilkes-Barre,” presumably Jim Hayward, made an appearance on the Sue Henry Show today, and he did his level best to make it sound as if the Hawkeye Security initiative here in Wilkes-Barre is Luzerne County’s next breaking news type scandal. Truth is, nothing of the sort is afoot.

And I take it as a personal affront to my vast intelligence that any member of the former mayor’s administration, the administration that presided over the financial ruination of Wilkes-Barre, would dare to show his face in public and question the current administration. You know, the administration that cleaned up all of the prior administration's financial and infrastructure messes.

As critics of city government go, that is, the former City Administrator that left office with $10.5 million in unpaid, overdue debts, Jim Hayward is laughable at best. I’m thinking Coke-through-the-nostrils practically every time his gums get to flapping. Enough on that personified vapidity.

Instead of wondering what all the fuss is about, let’s get down to brass tracks.

First of all, after the Wirefree Wilkes-Barre board decided it did not want to oversee the surveillance camera project, Hawkeye Security, a non-profit board comprised of three city employees, was born.

And as a means to fund this overly ambitious project, the board sought out and was awarded grant monies from the state, monies that came from the receipts of the local gaming initiative. And these grants were to be used for only one of two things, economic development projects, or public safety projects. And as we already know, the camera network is a public safety initiative. In addition, all of this was researched by three city attorneys, and done according to the state-approved process.

Now, one of Jim Hayward’s incorrect assertions was that Hawkeye Security did not put out for public bids before awarding a contract to Texas-based TAC, the developer and operator of our soon-to-be surveillance network.

In fact, two separate RFP’s (requests for proposals) were issued before TAC was awarded the contract. The first went out when Wirefree Wilkes-Barre was formed. And the second RFP went out after the Wirefree board decided it did not want to take on an additional project, the camera network. And as a result of the second RFP, 13 separate companies from across the country submitted bids before TAC came on board. And again, according to the state-written guidelines, this was all done on the up-and-up, hence…the awarding of the grant dollars.

Another flub on Hayward’s part was his claim that the gaming monies were supposed to be earmarked for property relief. Incorrect! That’s a whole other state program that has nothing to do with the local communities bordering Plains Township, where the casino is located, receiving their applied-for windfall in the form of state-approved and state-issued gaming revenues by way of grants.

Further, Hawkeye Security’s board is comprised of Wilkes-Barre’s two IT (information technology) employees, as well as City Administrator J.J. Murphy. And it was none other than Mayor Tom Leighton that charged Murphy with the daunting task of putting the surveillance network together. Something, by the way, that Murphy worked on even while being forward-deployed to Djibouti, Africa with the United States military.

So, if there was a lapse between when some aspects of the system were near being finalized, and when City Council was made aware of them as some on council have loudly claimed, well, I guess we’ll have to blame J.J. Murphy for serving his city while simultaneously serving his country. Meanwhile, City Council accomplished what? A junior City Council? Limiting public input to 5 minutes per resident at council meetings?

Scandal? What scandal?

The undeniable fact of the matter is, the Wilkes-Barre City Council had absolutely no problem with the implementation of the camera network or Hawkeye Security, until City Administrator J.J. Murphy himself refused to sign off on a child of a sitting council member being appointed to the position of City Grant Writer. That’s when the scrutiny of Hawkeye started as a way of trying to publicly embarrass Murphy and bring controversy to a project he has been working on behind the scenes for years.

And when a council member says of a recent visit to Murphy’s office, at a City Council meeting no less, “…I felt like a military prisoner,” you don’t really have to work much math before deducing that this all sounds like a personality conflict.

As for myself, I take great umbrage with any of my elected officials making any sorts of comments that are meant to belittle or impugn the efforts of the United States military. A military prisoner? Are you serious? Are you kidding me? What, are we water-boarding council members at Wilkes-Barre City Hall?

How utterly disgraceful!

From the reader’s comments:

D.B. Echo said...

What will you be doing with the Wilkes-Barre Online archives? There's a lot of stuff there. I would hate to see it vanish into the ether.

You know, I hadn’t considered any of that. I could print all of it out in paper form, but that’d take a heck of a lot of paper as well as quite a few printer cartridges.

Make checks payable to: The Wilkes-Barre Online Archive Fund.



Tom Carten said...

You want an archive donation? I'll go in at the $25 level and you don't need to send me a coffee mug. Seriously.

Gort said...

I want the coffe mug or a backpack.

D.B. Echo said...

Can I get the tote bag? Or maybe the umbrella.

Anonymous said...

Cathy and Marty Kane think they can give Marty's magistrate seat to their unqualified son. Do they think we are stupid? The joke will be on them.

Ticketless said...

Can someone find out how many arena events Kathy Kane received free tickets? I see her up there all of the time. Must be nice!