ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹɟ ʎlnɹʇ ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ



Monday, November 30, 2009

New GOP Web site

This just in...

Luzerne County GOP

As far as I'm concerned, a marked improvement. Then again, the newly-reconstituted Republican Party in this county is a marked improvement of the no-show party of the recent past.

Later

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We're in some real pretty (excrement) here, man!!!

It’s been a while since I bothered writing anything. It hasn’t been a case of writer’s block as much as it has been a matter of pure disgust.

I really didn’t see the need for me to weigh in on the daily Courthouse Blotters, the latest plea agreements, the latest rumors…the latest politicos to go down in flames before the investigating Feds.

At this point, it’s obvious that nobody ‘serves’ in this county. Damn near no one feels a calling to ‘serve’ the good people (dolts) of Luzerne County. None of the entitled upper class types are ‘fighting’ for us. Rather, they are lining their pockets in the most serendipitous of ways and laughing at us all the way to the nearest money launderer.

Meanwhile, the county is still deficit-spending. And we’ve got another near record budgetary shortfall that needs to be, ahem, half-heartedly addressed. Again.

And with that said, I was maddened and then some to read that one of our majority commissioners told an eager press that he trusted his hand-picked friends that have been dropping like DEET-encrusted flies in the face of the ever-widening corruption probe.

We entrusted him to manage this county. That is, to adeptly manage it. We trusted him to manage our money, to ensure a modicum of accountability and to stop the hemorrhaging of red ink. And now that it’s apparent that all of that was well beyond his limited management capabilities, he shrugs his massive shoulders and tells us he trusted his friends?

To quote a former president, “Trust, but verify.“ I say a high-profile resignation is long overdue.
If that’s not alarming enough, we’ve got a Fedrule Govmint that still refuses to recognize the fact that it’s broke and financially overextended. On the state level, fast-declining revenues have resulted in funding cuts across the board, funding cuts that will impact small municipalities far and wide. To quote a local official who spoke to me off the record, “It’s going to get worse. Much worse.”

And while our local budgets will likely face declining state and federal funding for the foreseeable future, while our county government flirts with financial insolvency, our county commissioners feign ignorance to the rampant corruption that festered on their watch.

Why haven’t I been writing?

Oh, I don’t know. The federal government is broke. The state government is broke. The county government is awash in tidal waves of red ink. You know, broke. Meanwhile, the fools in Washington D.C., putter along creating new entitlements that will result in further, still to be determined billions, perhaps trillions in deficit-spending. The solution in the state seems to be to throw a gambling table at every problem. And locally, our elected leaders are making with the ‘see no evil’ bit.

What’s not to like?

Everyone at every level is seemingly incompetent, and at each level of government, financial insolvency has basically been arrived at. What’s the difference between financial paralysis and financial insolvency? If there is a subtle difference, I fail to see it.

The prevailing attitude seems to be…we’re America, the economy is cyclical and we always bounce back. It’ll bounce back. It always bounces back.

Right?

Historical speaking, that mindset has always been proven correct. But when your solution to an economic depression is to print billions you don’t have and hand it all out to supporters of the party, and to create new entitlements the likes of which we‘ve never seen, I’m thinking the folks in Washington are to management what our suddenly befuddled county commissioner is.

And, for me, this is not a partisan thing, an ideological thing, if you will. It doesn’t matter which well-worn political stripes these people are wearing, Republican, Democrat, Independent or what have you. The fact is, I don’t believe that very many of them actually know what they’re going on and on about. And if you’re even close to sharing that opinion with me, you surely have reason for pause. You really should be concerned right now. Perhaps even frightened for our future.

And while I sit here and wonder where the unpaved financial trails will take us, all I keep reading is more and more partisan bluster. If we’d just put this party in charge, we’d all reach nirvana by tonight. If we’d just put that party in charge, life would be a continual orgy and the skies would rain beer. It’s all more of the same misguided swill: Party first, country second. Disingenuous, self-centered, self-important claptrap all.

To pull a quote from one of my favorite movies, Aliens, “We’re in some real pretty (excrement) here, man!!!” A quote that capably describes our current situation.

So, why haven’t I been writing much of late? Well, I find it difficult to do so when I have this annoyingly persistent feeling that all that needs to be said is that the end may finally be near.
But worry not. We’re America, the economy is cyclical and we always bounce back. It’ll bounce back. It always bounces back.

Right?

Depressed? Me? No, not at all.

A realist? Ding! We have a winner!

We’re in some real pretty (excrement) here, man!!!

Later

P.S.--While our entire financial house of cards teeters on collapse, the City of Wilkes-Barre just finalized a budget that included no tax increases and no increases in fees, and with no cuts in services. Although, I’m told that parking permit fees may have to be increased a tad, in the grand scheme of things, that’s barely noteworthy.

So, while all of the supposed leaders at every level of government seem powerless to correctly manage our fast-disappearing money, we need look no further than City Hall for lessons in financial responsibility.

Who knew?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

KD fracking update

From the e-mail inbox:

Markie:

I wish I could write a long-fingered commentary on the WV$A's plan to accept, treat and discharge drilling frackwater into our Susquehanna River. Unfortunately, the reality of my weekends as of late is such that we've been on the road with college visits or other obligatory trips for the last month, and now I have to play catch-up on things at home. I also have some major electrical work staring me in the face once I walk away from the keyboard, so I'll keep it brief.

The online articles in the CV & TL about the WV$A mention potential revenue multiple times, but they barely reference the quality of the treated frackwater that "might" be discharged into the Susquehanna. I think the revenue:water quality ratio of comments in one article was ~7:1. That pretty much $um$ it up; it'$ all about money...period.

As far as the science goes, I'll leave it at this: treated frackwater is to regular sewage plant effluent as Drano is to Ex-Lax. Okay...maybe prune juice. The one ( anonymous, of course ) comment about the treated frackwater being cleaner than what the WVSA is already discharging into our river is not only sad if you think about it, it is an outright lie and typical of the oil industry's mouthpieces and most of those who seek to profit from drilling.

By the way, New York is currently holding hearings on their plans to allow drilling in the headwaters of the Susquehanna. Guess where the NY Department of Environmental Conservation is recommending the drilling companies send their frackwater for disposal? Hint: it isn't NY.

Markie, over a year ago, I said this was going to get ugly. I openly admit to all the good and law-abiding citizens of Circumlocutiondom and bloggers everywhere I was wrong...dead wrong. With so much profit to be realized by so few, and with so much money (billion$) already on the streets and under contract if and when drilling begins at the levels projected, it is poised to progress far beyond the boundaries of ugly. I think "ramming speed on steroids" might sum up the weeks and months ahead.

BTW...happen to notice that most of our elected "leader$" are steering clear of this subject?


Don Williams, a/k/a Kayak Dude


Thanks for weighing in. I remember reading about that plant that was proposed for Eaton Township, a plant which would have been constucted for the expressed purpose of treating fracking water/fluids. While many of the details escape me now, what I do recall was that no matter how it's gussied up for public consumption, the end result was that sullied waters would be released directly into the Susquehanna. Less than pristine water, and in unimaginable quantities.

Or as my moonshine-supplying buddy Lonesome Redneck Mark might say, That ain't fargin' right.

And by the way, I did notice that it's been mum's the word on this issue from our local elected leaders. Especially noteworthy is the silence from Chris Carney, since this is already happening in his own back yard. You know, the occasional explosions, the contaminated wells and the numerous violations of the drilling outfits.

Not to single him out, but it is an issue that can reach out and tough his personal water supply. Perhaps he's still researching the issue for himself. Of perhaps he's got other priorities a look at his campaign contributions might disclose. I dunno.

As for Kanjorski and water quality issues goes, that's like trying to blend water and oil. More succinctly, like mixing raw sewage and water, damming it all and then calling it a recreational lake.

Again, thanks for the brief update. Keep us advised when you can.

Oh yeah, I am not a strict vegetarian. And while my favorite pizza toppings are mushrooms and onions, I have been known to cross over to the dark side by downing some of that delicious pepperoni pizza Wifey whips up from scratch.

Last night we were experimenting with our dough recipe and ended up with a soft and chewey thin crust, dittos on the deeper dished pizzas and a pie that I dubbed a Pizza Loaf. Damn thing was a good three-plus inches deep.

And to yet another e-mail I would respond, sure, while it might not have been fair to go off on Dr. Joe, I'm really getting good and sick of people stepping forward and spouting off about how they know how best to run my life.

And I take extreme exception to anyone who takes the incremental steps of demonizing what they do not personally do, and then tell us that those habits should be deemed punishable by them. And how is it remotely constitutional to target others for unfair and confiscatory tax rates simply because they say so? Who are they to dip into our personal finances simply because they see the drinking of soda pop, the downing of fast food or the consumption of 'sinful' things such as alcohol damaging to society at large?

And what about the convoluted logic that since you have health insurance but consume items not on their personally approved list, then you should be required to pay for someone else's health care in addition to our own? Gee, no tyranny creep going on there.

As far as the demonization of smokers goes, what's more expensive? A career smoker who is diagnosed with lung cancer, treated and then is dead within two years? Or one of those non-smokers who ends up in a personal care home for a decade, possibly much longer?

I personally know people who have lost their homes because of the exorbitant cost of keeping their spouses in assisted-care facilities long term. It's not bad enough that they, for all intents and purposes, lost their loved ones. But then they lose their homes, too?

Smoke this!

Later

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dr. Joe gone rogue

From the e-mail inbox:
 
-------- Original Message --------
Subject:
The Lu Lac Political Letter: The LuLac Edition #1003, Nov. 11th, 2009
Date:
Thu, 12 Nov 2009 12:43:40 -0500
From:
Doc Leonardi
mailto:leonardifamilychiro@mac.com
Reply-To:
yournewphysique@me.com
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
http://lulacpoliticaletter.blogspot.com/2009/11/lulac-edition-1003-nov-11th-2009.html

Hi Everyone,The above link is to an interview I recently did. Please if you can, I will be on WVIA tonight at 7pm discussing childhood obesity:

Thursdays 7pm on WVIA-TV

State of Pennsylvania with WVIA President Bill Kelly and Correspondent Suzanne Kapral-Kelly is the only regional interactive public affairs and news program providing an in-depth look at important issues in the Commonwealth.

Tonight, Nov. 12 at 7pmNEPA's Obese Children: What Can We Do?

Guests include:Dr. Joe Leonardi - Leonardi Family Chiropractic, Adjunct Faculty, Luzerne County Community College, and owner of Yournewphysique.comJoy de Soto, MA - Human Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, Owner of Visions Personal Fitness Training


This is going to go over like a lead balloon. Like I care.

First of all, achieving a significant weight loss is not exactly rocket science. In all honesty, what’s harder? Losing 10, 20, say, 50 pounds, or improving upon High-Velocity Impact Shielding?

Do you want to lose weight? Okay, count calories, work (physically) hard and play even harder. Done.

I’m not saying what Dr. Leonardi achieved is not remarkable, what I’m saying is that you don’t need to pay anyone any sum of money to closely mimic what he has accomplished.

While reading his interview published at the Lu Lac, I took great offense to the following response Dr. Leonardi provided to one of David Yonki’s questions:

I would maintain current Medicare taxes and additionally impose a 15 - 20% tax on junk foods, alcohol and tobacco. Probably video and computer games too. Tax the activities that make us an unhealthy, slothful nation that stresses our health care system disproportionately. Then take that money and put it in a dedicated fund solely for the new Medicare. In addition to water the foods that would remain tax free are basically what you find along the perimeter of the supermarket: fruits, veggies, certain dairy, beef, seafood, poultry, eggs etc... This is a one paragraph answer to a solution that requires much more detail.

Now...now I understand why Dr. Leonardi decided to bolt from the GOP, and start making frequent noise about him becoming a proud Democrat. Because, all of a sudden, he’s decided to embrace unchecked, unrepentant tyranny.

Many moons ago, I went from 217 pounds to 165 and in only a four-month span. And to manage as much, I needed no advice, no books, no videos, no Web sites, no new equipment, no specialty products, no Dr. Joe and what he's selling, but most importantly…I needed no government intervention.

But when anyone, Dr. Leonardi included, tells us that people who eat Fruit Loops should be taxed at a higher rate than people who suffer through a bowl of Cardboard Bran-like Flakes, I’m here to tell those folks they are supporting tyranny in the name of public health. Or, in this case, for profit.

And this subjectively tyrannical suggestion, that we should impose a “15 - 20% tax on junk foods, alcohol and tobacco. Probably video and computer games too,” is frightening in it’s shortsightedness and tyrranical implications.

Follow the mission creep that is tyranny: First, we tax the politically incorrect smokers. And then we go after the politically incorrect NASCAR crowd, the drinkers. And if that doesn’t deliver us, as a nation, to some sort of Utopian Nirvana almost overnight, then we target the people that actually enjoy a Big Mac every now and again.

But why stop there? While we’re at it, why not target people who enjoy their Play Stations? Those people don’t eat fruits and vegetables while they’re enjoying some of the highest frame rates ever imagined. No, I’ll bet you they are chomping on chips and pretzels and guzzling soda pop. Off with their heads! Uh, I meant, tax them at a higher rate because they don’t believe what we believe to be important.

Or as our newest among the suddenly growing legions of health care champions, our so-called experts put it, tax the activities that make us an unhealthy, slothful nation that stresses our health care system disproportionately.

Actually, what stresses our health care system disproportionately, the country in general, and will for the foreseeable future, is people who see tyranny as the answer to a problem in lieu of workable solutions.

How should we fix this, Dr. Joe?

Uh, since Markie enjoys his cigarettes, his beer, his Play Station and his Fantasy Football, I say the fix is to first vilify all that he shamefully and shamelessly enjoys, and then stick our grubby little fingers into his wallet just a little bit deeper.

We, the people who think we know it all, have deemed his usual activates as some sorts of crimes against humanity, so he should have less rights than we hold so near and dear for ourselves. We have accused him of crimes, we have rendered our verdict, so have at his wallet.

Thanks, Dr. Joe. Rather than offering any real solutions, you have made yourself the judge, the jury and the tax-collecting executioner. While you may have noticeably slimmed down in the physical sense, your cognitive processes have become, in my opinion, grotesquely fat-headed.

Or, to thumbnail it, you have become a Democrat.

You know, a tyrant.

Bye

Editor’s note: Pepperoni pizza and beer tomorrow night. Woo-hoo, I can’t wait.

Brace yourself...

Nice. The Times Leader has broken the story that yet another politico in Luzerne County is, for lack of a better word, corrupt.
 
Former Luzerne County Deputy Clerk charged with accepting bribe

SCRANTON - Former Luzerne County Deputy Clerk William Brace has agreed to plead guilty to accepting a suit valued at $1,500 in exchange for helping a contractor obtain a contract with the county sometime between June 2007 and May 2008.

According to charges filed this morning by the U.S. Attorney's office, Brace supported the contractor, who is not identified, in obtaining a contract with the county valued at more than $5,000. In exchange for his support, Brace traveled to New York City, where the contractor had Brace fitted for a tailor-made, monogramed suit. The charges do not identify the tailor.

Brace has a long history of public employment. He served as chief clerk for Wilkes-Barre City until 2001, when he retired. He then took a position as chief deputy for Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly. He stayed in that position until Decmeber 2005, when he took the position as chief clerk for the county commissioners. He retired in November 2008 to take a position as registrar of vital statistics for the state.

This is just out of hand. Unreal.

And it leads me back to a fair question and a fair assertion that WILK’s Sue Henry has been repeatedly tossing at her listeners for months:

The question: How much is enough?

The assertion: (paraphrasing), Remember, despite all of these arrests, plea agreements and what have you, good people do in fact work at the Luzerne County courthouse.

Sue, sadly, apparently there is no such thing as having enough money for these longtime party apparatchiks.

And as for the assertion, I ask again…Sue, are you prepared to identify THAT good person that toils away under the big dome?

It’s getting to the point that the taint, the all-permeating and sickening stench that seems to taint everything political in this county is now THIS close to fouling the entire lot of them.

I say to you that, good people or no good people, everybody knew that one gigantic scam was afoot for all these years. How could they not have known? Not everyone who is employed by the county is deaf, dumb and blind.

Or are they?

Another one bites the dust. Yet another reason why it might be time to take up residence in Alaska, kiddies. Hmm, now there’s an idea: Circumlocution for Eskimos.

Me, the mush dogs, the frozen, wind-slept expanse of nothingness, the copious amounts of whiskey, a kerosene-powered personal computer and Muckachuck...my new bride.

Muckachuck! You hot 'lil bitch! Fetch me another pint of Mad Dog, will ya!?!

Later

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Veteran's Day: time for Obama to grow a pair

It’s Veteran’s Day.

And as a longtime blogger, experience has taught me that I’m supposed to write something appreciative in nature, if not, downright tear jerking about the sacrifices our veterans past, present and future have made and will make for the sorry likes of us.

Don’t hold your breath.

I read this story this morning, Gorbachev Says Obama Should Start Afghan Withdrawal, and I damn near giggled myself sick-like.

Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sent tanks into Afghanistan to support a Marxist regime in 1979, betting superior firepower from the ground and air would keep the country within Moscow’s fold. Soviet aims were thwarted by an Islamist mujahedeen movement supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

While there was support in the Moscow establishment, Gorbachev as the general secretary of the Communist Party concluded that Soviet objectives couldn’t be achieved.

“We thought that that would lead nowhere,” Gorbachev said. “So we started to disengage our troops from any kind of hostilities in Afghanistan.”

The pullout began in 1988 and ended in February of 1989, nine months before the Berlin Wall fell.


Here’s the scoop on that purposeful rewriting of history.

Yes, the Soviets suffered through their own version of Vietnam in Afghanistan, but not initially. Sure, they needed just as many body bags in Afghanistan as we needed to deploy to Vietnam, but there is a tactical difference that needs to be made mention of.

In Vietnam, we were passing out candy bars and trying to win hearts and minds while our determined opponent was wagering that a war of attrition would cause us to pull up stakes, lick our wounds and go home.

In Afghanistan, the Soviets were bombing the militants and the civilian population into oblivion from the onset of the war, that is, until the CIA introduced Stinger missiles into the theater. And with those Stingers being forward-deployed, the Soviet air superiority disappeared almost overnight.

Point…shoot…dead. Done.

And being that Soviet ground tactics were fatally outdated, being that they were stuck in the WWII mindset of establishing a front line and then extending it forward by way of ground troops and their overrated armor, they suffered mass casualties at an alarming rate, and they eventually pulled out of the country with what was left of their tattered tails dragging on the ground behind them.

The point is, without air superiority, thanks to those Stingers perched and waiting for them on mountain peaks the country over, the war of attrition worked to perfection. Without air support, ground troops are fodder to be chewed upon in such a unique, mountain-dominated landscape.

Now let us fast-forward to Afghanistan, 2009.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been losing ground troops at a greatly accelerated rate of late. And those increasing number of KIAs are what we’d call veterans. Deceased veterans, but veterans nonetheless.

And now the generals are calling for a surge, an influx of 60,000 additional ground troops, to stem the tide of gains the well-entrenched enemy has been making of late.

But you might be wondering, why have we suffered so many casualties in recent days. And what is the sitting president going to do about it? Is it as Gorbachev says it is, that we cannot win in Afghanistan? Should Obama deploy another 30,000 troops, perhaps 45,000 troops, or should we just cut our losses and get the hell out of there?

The way I see it, there is one unmistakable similarity between the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, and our recent spate of casualties, which has some wondering if the war can be won.

When the Soviets lost their air superiority a la the CIA-supplied Stingers, it was downhill and fast from there. The thing is, on a modern battlefield, ground troops deployed in insufficient numbers are dead ducks without close air support. Much like how surface warships are totally dependant upon air cover or Phalanx and Aegis air defenses for their continued deployment. Er, their continued survival. For instance, an aircraft carrier would survive for all of five minutes in a live shooting war without the aircraft it houses providing cover for it.

In Afghanistan, our troops have no front lines from which to retreat for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Rather, except for a couple of large staging areas, air bases and major cities (which are few), they are forward-deployed to forward fire bases that are easily overrun without close-in air support.

Our ground forces there are too few in number, too spread out, forward-deployed, but very quick on their feet and very rapidly deployed. But rapid deployment is not possible with large numbers of troops, and smaller, more mobile numbers of troops are vulnerable when outmatched, or simply put upon by the terrain. And that’s where the close air support comes in. That’s what guarantees that no matter what skirmish they find themselves enveloped in, they’ll likely live on to fight another day.

But, when all we seem to care about is not offending the natives, when all that we seem horrified by is the politically insensitive collateral damage that is sure to come about when your aircraft are busily seeing to it that the troops on the ground don’t get slaughtered right quick, then we should be able to follow why our casualty rate has been higher of late.

Gorbachev is a clueless poser and a bald-faced liar.

We have not lost air superiority in Afghanistan, and we have not lost the advantage or the initiative in Afghanistan, as did his forces way back when. We still have the upper hand in this conflict, but thanks to the stifling political correctness that is fast, fast choking the last useable brain cell out of this country, we are now reluctant to use it…air power. Air superiority.

Yes, rather than cause a regrettable collateral damage pogrom that might get serious play on CNN, we’ll continue to make with the kinder and gentler bombing runs. Meanwhile, the ground troops will continue to get tagged and bagged and sent home to mom.

We either have the stomach for it, or we do not. And if we do not have the stomach for it, then get those American boys and girls out of there, like, right now! Either bomb them, the enemy, back to the stone ages as the situation on the ground clearly dictates, or get them, our kids, the hell out of there.

It’s Veteran’s Day. And it makes no sense to have our leadership lollygagging along when what they should be doing is seeing to it that the newest of the veteran’s survive the current conflict.
We either play to our strengths, or we go home.

Obama…pick one. Grow a pair. Politics, political correctness or correct tactics.

Pick one.

Sez me.

Later

It's official: nobody knew

Okay, it’s official: nobody knew.

Er, everybody appointed knew. But nobody who was elected knew. Or something or other.

Wait! I know. Everybody knew excepting for the people that knew. Um, let’s try that again. Everybody knew excepting for the people that are paid and trained to know. No, I got it. Everybody knew the same exact thing…Me know no nothin’. Or knew. Argh!!!

What a fu>king farce!

Court system gone awry

PLAINS TWP. – Luzerne County Judge David Lupas, who had been district attorney, conceded Tuesday that some people see juvenile hearings as “kiddie court.”

District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll grew almost combative at times defending her department, warning that past events cannot be judged “in a vacuum.”

And Chief Public Defender Basil Russin admitted activities in juvenile hearings had been “troubling,” but bemoaned a lack of manpower and money as impediment to his ability to do anything.

All three said they could not explain why problems that led to one of the nation’s biggest court corruption scandals festered for years without anyone in their staffs noticing or complaining.
Two central themes emerged: They assumed things were OK, and the actions of one judge were widely popular and thus hard to assail.


You know, the stench emanating from this thing is becoming suffocating. And we haven’t even heard the testimony of the offending judges yet!

As far as I see it, both Judge Dave Lupas and District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll need to be summarily dispatched at the very first opportunity. Fired, that is.

And her getting all saucy and defiant while staring down these commission members…it makes me want to vomit. It makes me want to vomit because I know damn well that those commission members knew they were listening to two-days worth of cover-your-ass prevarication.

They know full-well that Luzerne County, the judiciary and otherwise, is clearly the asshole of the entire state. They see the people that testified before them as the incompetent pretenders that they all were, and apparently still are.

Yes, it’s official: nobody knew.

Cut me a fu>king break! What did you know and when did you know it?

Uh...know what?

And then we have this insufferably tedious gibberish…

Petrilla: No mass layoffs planned
 
Luzerne County’s proposed 2010 budget is two weeks away from adoption, and there’s not a peep about how commissioners will close a $29 million gap.

Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said nobody’s talking because there is no firm plan yet, though she’s certain the county won’t be cutting 150 workers – one of the options suggested by an outside financial consultant.

“If there’s room not to fill vacancies or to downsize a little, we’d consider that, but there will not be a mass layoff,” Petrilla said. “That’s pretty much all we know for a fact.”

Petrilla said she believes another large layoff would hamper county services, though commissioners are urging department heads to voluntarily suggest staff cuts. The county’s 2009 budget laid off 72 workers.

“Downsizing last year had a great impact on our offices,” Petrilla said.

Hey, not a problem Mrs. Petrilla. Raise taxes by a gazillion percent, and then float another uninsured $20 million bond late next year. Not a freaking problem!

In lieu of adept, fiscally responsible management, we’ll put up with the likes of you. Or will we?

How do you hold the unaccountable accountable? They wanted to adopt a zero tolerance policy? Yeah, so why shouldn't we do likewise?

Fire their dead asses!

Later

'Frickin' fracking?' revisited

Before I even happened upon the Times Leader story, "WVSA may treat wastewater from gas-drilling," I had received an e-mail alert from Kayak Dude pointing me in that direction.

While I'm no expert on the ramifications, or environmental impacts of such an undertaking, I do know that Kayak Dude is. And when he suggested that we "blogswarm" on this topic, I got all lazy and whatnot and suggested to him that perhaps he should write the corresponding story, send it to me and I'd post it. So far, that anti-fracking manifesto is yet to arrive in my e-mail inbox.

But, since the locals are finally getting themselves up to speed on all things hydro-fracking, I figured I'd republish what I posted way back on 7/26/2008, a hodgepodge of a thing I titled "Frickin' fracking?"

Take it away, Markie!

Reprint on!

Frickin‘ fracking? I’ve never been so hurt in my life. At the tail end of an email exchange yesterday, Kayak Dude hit me with the following: “You have finally evolved into a progressive, liberal environmentalist.”

Ouch!

Needless to say, I immediately became hysterical and went out to the kitchen hunting for a bottle or two of Drano to drink. We didn’t have any, so Wifey put it on the grocery list. And since I’m typing this now, that means my purposely and ridiculously elevated BAC didn’t deliver the desired result either. Rats!

So I followed the link he sent me and read the story on drilling for that much-ballyhooed Marcellus Shale in very, very southern New York state. That very same Marcellus Shale that is supposedly sitting directly under our backyards. That very same Marcellus Shale that will be discovered after we lease out our backyards to companies drilling for natural gas. That very same Marcellus Shale that will make us all richer than our wildest of wild dreams not including Godzilla, Marcia Brady or Laurie Partridge.

Now, as far as drilling for natural gas is concerned, I pictured a drill bit just a tad bit longer than Wilkes-Barre or something thereabouts. But that’s not how this thing works. To break through the rock formations and expose the shale deposits, fracking is the latest available know-how.

Fracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing of bedrock, involves high-pressure injection of chemicals, grotesque amounts of water siphoned from local tributaries and sand to fracture rock formations. And after those rock formations are fractured, nobody really knows where those chemicals might end up at. Water aquifers are the most likely place, as in, the water table could become rendered unusable by human beings and furry animals alike. And we wouldn‘t want to make all of the furry little animals rabid as all hell, would we?

So, if and when you lease your land to a drilling company, you’re inviting said company to pump a frightening chemical cocktail into the soil beneath you. And if that’s not enough of a cause for concern, fracking requires millions upon millions of gallons of water to be successful. Water that can only come from our local streams, ponds and rivers.

I sent an email requesting drilling specifics to Chesapeake Energy Corp. one of the largest leaseholders in the Marcellus field, but I received no reply. Shock of shocks, no?

On a somewhat personal note, after the protracted battle to deep-six the inflatable dam at Wilkes-Barre resulted in a glorious victory for the River Rats and their unsung leader, Kayak Dude, I figured he was thoroughly satisfied with his doggedly Herculean efforts and was heading off to the environmentalist retirement home. Yeah, I figured he’d be content with hugging trees and raising spotted mosquitoes from here on out.

But when that aforementioned email exchange included this blurb, “This is gonna get ugly”, I thought to myself, Rutro! The napping behemoth sleeps no more. Can “no fracking” t-shirts be in the works before very long? We shall see.

Anyway, this is the first I’ve heard of “fracking” and fracking fluids. But, with practically everybody with any available land to speak of currently courting these drilling outfits in hopes of becoming modern day Beverly Hillbillies, I think we need to get ourselves up to speed in a big, big hurry.

I can do without energy to a great degree. I can ride a bike and leave the motor vehicle parked right where it is. I can turn down the thermostat during the coldest of winters. And I can ignore the heat during the hottest of the hot summers. But I can’t do without a safe water supply.

Now here’s some necessary reading:

From The Times Leader, July 2, 2008:

State, gas drillers discuss water, land protection


Experts have known about the Marcellus Shale layer, which runs from upstate New York into Virginia and touches northern Luzerne County, for decades. They believe it contains enough recoverable gas to supply America’s natural gas demand for two years. However, technology has only recently advanced enough to tap the shale, which lies as much as 8,000 feet below the surface.


J. Scott Roberts, DEP deputy secretary in the Office of Mineral Resources Management, announced additions to the agency’s usual drilling permit specifically for Marcellus Shale that include detailed estimates of water use.

Paul Swartz, the river basin commission’s executive director, said companies need to make timely applications and factor the permitting process into their drilling timelines. Two permits were approved at the commission’s meeting on Thursday, he said, but another 84 – about a year’s worth of work – still await approval. Though there is a water-use threshold for requiring a permit, he said any work in the Marcellus would exceed that threshold and require a permit.

From NBC Channel 34, Binghamton, New York:

Gas Drilling


"This is going to make the plume in Endicott look like a walk in the park."
That's because retrieving natural gas from Marcellus Shale - one of the largest gas reservoirs in the world - uses a process called fracking, where water, sand and chemicals are pumped into a well.

Fractures in the wells, either naturally occurring or ones created through fracking, could potentially contaminate drinking water aquifers.

From Salon.com:

EPA to citizens: Frack you

Haire's doctor blames her health problems on the scenery's relatively recent addition: 600 natural gas wells, drilled by oil companies over the past two years. Every few feet, 150-foot-tall drill rigs, graced with American flags, rise upward into the sky. Compressor stations, banks of rectangular huts with five-foot-diameter fans, sit back from the road and pump the gas into underground pipelines.

Haire is not alone. Several dozen people in the area blame a rash of health problems on the wells, says Colorado lawyer Lance Astrella. For 15 years, Astrella was a successful attorney for the energy industry. For the past 15 years, he has been defending citizens like those in Garfield County, who blame the wells near their homes for their cancerous tumors, rectal bleeding and chronic headaches. Between January and March of this year, eight people called the Garfield County oil and gas department, complaining about black smoke and strong chemical odors they worry are making them sick.

Scientists and environmentalists say the health hazards of the natural gas wells stem not only from air pollution but "fracking fluid," a mixture of carcinogenic chemicals, used in many of them. Laura Amos, 43, an outfitter who lives 20 miles from Haire, recently developed a tumor in her adrenal gland, which she blames on her exposure to the chemicals. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a half century-old process in which a gas company injects water, sand and the chemicals into the wells. Developed by Halliburton, the corporation formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, fracking loosens the rock and maximizes the flow of gas to the surface.
At least 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie in the tight sand and coal bed formations below Garfield County, according to gas companies and industry geologists. Over the next eight years, energy companies expect to build more than 10,000 additional wells in the county.

From The River Reporter.com:

What’s in that fracking fluid?

Take, for instance, a substance called ZetaFlow. It’s a compound produced by a Texas-based company called Weatherford Fracturing Technologies, which is added to the millions of gallons of water that are used, under high pressure, to fracture the deep-lying shale deposit. The Durango Herald in Durango, CO has identified ZetaFlow as the agent that sent a nurse to an intensive care unit for several days in April.


According to an account in that paper and other news sources, a nurse at Durango’s Mercy Regional Medical Center came in contact with a gas worker who was allegedly doused with ZetaFlow. The nurse, Cathy Behr, became ill and within five days she said she went into liver, heart and respiratory failure.

Trust me, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg whereas available links and information are concerned.

The question is, is this fracking safe? Or do we need to band together and tell the EPA to funk the fracking already?

I leaning towards, yes, we do.

Note: There you go, Dude. I fired the first shot. When can I expect my bumper stickers and t-shirts?

End reprint!

And there you have it. Gort brought it up, I've weighed in all over again, and we'll see just who else might read some of this stuff and feel sufficiently outraged to go and run a bit further with it. While that may not qualify as a "blogswarm," it's better than nothing.

Now go hug your favorite tree (a nubile boxelder?), and I'm heading back to Art Bell-land, where the documented crazies all hang out at this time of night.

G'nite

It's official: everybody knew

The public hearings of the Interbranch Commission of Juvenile Justice at the Best Western East Mountain Inn in Plains on Tuesday provided us with the following eye-opening testimony, courtesy of the Times Leader and the Citizens' Voice.

'Zero tolerance' policy accepted
(By Dave Janoski Projects Editor) Published: November 10, 2009


Former Luzerne County judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. toughened his "zero tolerance" policy for juvenile offenders just three days after the opening of a for-profit detention center whose owner allegedly paid him kickbacks, a former county juvenile probation official told a state panel Monday.

The tougher policy, which required detention for juveniles who missed school or curfew while on probation, swelled the number of detainees and payments going to the for-profit center, former probation official Sandra Brulo told the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, which held the first of two local hearings on the kids-for-cash scandal Monday.

"We would have more children going in," said Brulo, who is one of 18 people charged in a broad federal corruption scandal stemming from the kids-for-cash case. She has pleaded guilty to altering a court record and is awaiting sentencing.

Oh, well. Wouldn't want to risk my job by blowing the whistle, would I?

She would have been better served by pleading the fifth and then jumping off of a bridge. I originally saw her as a sympathetic character, somebody caught up in the fast-widening scandal by accident. A victim of circumstances. But no longer.

UPDATE: Russin says Luzerne County "has a systemic problem."
Mark Guydish

Chief Public Defender Basil Russin rejected the suggestion that he didn't really want to know what was going on while juveniles were denied rights in judge Mark Ciavarella's courtroom, but admitted "in hindsight I should have known."

Russin paused when asked "what's the mindset" in accepting the written waivers and lack of colloquies now known to be common but improper procedure under Ciavarella, then recounted an early experience as an attorney and said it is his habit to trust others in the system.

Commission member Jason Legg suggested that the very fact everyone seemed to embrace the zero tolerance policy was cause for a public defender to step forward and raise questions "for the little guy." Russin said his attorneys should have been asking if defendants wanted to appeal, and he was never told they did.

Russin closed by saying "what we have here in Luzerne County is a systemic problem. .. We still have a mindset in prosecutions and police and juvenile probation "that going to court is always a way to solve problems. "We have to stop that."

"It's a terrible thing that happened, I'm extremely upset ...being there puts a knot in my stomach. ... I'll never practice law the way I did for the past 36 years."

Ah, it must really suck when it becomes public knowledge that these high-brow, prestigious folks were all phoning it in.

But wait…there’s more…

Revolting as it may be…there’s more…

UPDATE:Probation chief admits attending questionable party
Mark Guydish

Luzerne County Probation Department Deputy chief of Administration John Johnson said he was invited and did attend a party thrown by Mid-Atlantic Youth Services at Big Ugly's, but could not recall how long it was, whether judges or county commissioners were there, or what type of food was served. He did say alcohol was provided, and that the party came around the time Luzerne County was sending juveniles to Western PA Child Care, one of two private detention centers at the heart of the judge corruption scandal.

Luzerne County choose Mid-Atlantic to run Pa Child Care in Pittston in 2005, after agreeing to lease the facility. One of the original developers of PA Child Care is Greg Zappala, who also reportedly owns Mid-Atlantic. The deal with Mid-Atlantic was approved by County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak, and Big Ugly's is owned by his father, who has testified before a federal grand jury investigating corruption in the area.

In hindsight, Johnson said, such a party was problematic because of the connections, but he did not see anything wrong with it at the time because the previous department head had given the OK for probation department staff to attend.

Commission Chairman John Cleland asked if there had been any instructions to recommend placement at Western PA Child Care the year placement from Luzerne County spiked. Johnson answered no. He said he did not no why recommendations were made to place children so far away, other than the fact that County Commissioners had not OK'd placement to a closer facility previously used.

Johnson also said that, if a child failed to pay restitution, they were put in detention. He said there were hearings on restitution but could not recall how often. Johnson said he never heard that the detention center would call and say it had beds available, or that, as Cleland put it, "An officer called the detention center and asked "this is a detention day, how many beds are available."

Johnson closed by recommending standardization of the detention process across the state.

So, long story short, these people are reinforcing my point about why we needed to vote no in the most vociferous of manners, no matter which judges were up for retention.

The dirty little secret is, while kids were being sent to the new-and-improved for-profit hoosegow for bucks, basically, everybody knew.

Everybody knew.

And isn’t it convenient for our recently retained judge that these hearings are being held a week after we voted on the question of whether or not to retain judges?

Everybody knew.

Told you so.

Buh-bye

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Valley Santa

I’m reprinting this here without permission because, even though I was disappointed now and again as a kid on Christmas morning back before the advent of electricity, nothing frightened me more as an adult than the thought creeping into my head that maybe, just maybe, I may had been about to disappoint my children on Christmas morning.

Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a spiritual thing not ruled by it’s over-commercialization. But with the economy being in the toilet like it is, and being that children know not of the tug-of-war between spiritual needs and what they’ve come to expect of Christmas morning, I’m going to go all Clinton on you and say that we need to do this…for the children.

I’ll be sending along a check.

Please join me in these respects.

VALLEY SANTA PROGRAM

Help Line will once again coordinate volunteers for the Valley Santa Program. Listed below are volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups.

Letter Reading is done on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings starting at 7:00 p.m. Up to ten volunteers are needed each evening. (starts 11/1/09)

Shopping is done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting at 7:00 a.m. (starts 11/2/09) Up to six volunteers are needed each morning.

Gift Wrapping is done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings starting at 5:30 p.m. (starts 11/2/09)

Up to twenty volunteers are needed each evening.

For groups under the age of 12, there needs to be 3 adults for every child.

If you wish to volunteer please contact Help Line (829-1341 or 1-888-829-1341) and reserve the activity and date you desire. Dates fill up quickly and only a certain number of volunteers can be scheduled for each activity.

If you wish to make a donation to Valley Santa send your contribution to:

Valley Santa Inc.
PO Box 5276
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18710

no new or used toys can not be accepted due to space limitations.

To Request help from Valley Santa: Write a letter explaining the need that exists in as much detail as possible. You MUST include your name, the names, ages and genders of your children, you FULL address, zip code and telephone number. The letter must be co-signed by a clergy member or case/social worker and must include their address and evening telephone number for confirmation.

Requests will be considered for children 12 years of age and younger. NO telephone requests will be accepted. Deadline for letters will be December 15, 2009.

Send your letters to:
Valley Santa
PO Box 5268
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18710

(Editor's note:) Later

GOP bulletin board

Young Republicans

Organizational meeting

Monday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m.

GOP Headquarters, 41 S. Main St. Ste. 14, Wilkes-Barre

OPEN to all registered Republicans in Luzerne County who are younger than 40 years old.

ANYONE who was active in other Young Republicans groups (in Luzerne County or elsewhere) is invited to this organizational meeting to offer input and suggestions.

Please spread the word to your sons and daughters, friends and neighbors.

Refreshments will be served.
----------------------------------------
Renita Fennick
Executive Director
Luzerne County Republican Party
570-208-4671

www.luzernegop.org

No more Skrep, no more Petrilla

“If you’re not changing, you’ve got problems.”

That was said to me earlier this morning by a high-ranking city official. We were discussing the crippling effects health insurance rates, entitlements for all retirees and their families, and the overall economic morass has on municipalities large, small and otherwise. Another quote I could attribute to him is, “It’s crippling many municipalities.”

Where I hail from, the private sector, the fixes are usually simple. Fixed costs are fixed costs, but controllable costs are easy to control by simply reducing the size of the work force--by cutting payroll. Lose employees.

But for a municipality such as this one, the garbage still to be picked up on time, the fires still need to be fought and the streets still need to be patrolled. Hence, until we finally go full-blown depression in this country, this city can ill-afford to shrink it’s work force any further. As it stands now, we’ve got less than 300 city employees servicing the needs of some 42,000 people.

During these most dire of economic times, as officials from both sectors of the economy struggle to balance their books, or eke out a meager profit, the lead quote kind of says it all, “If you’re not changing, you’ve got problems.”

And after wincing my way through the Times Leader this morning, I do need to ask one question, with our county government facing so many vexing financial problems, why aren’t they changing?”

Luzerne County is borrowing $18.2M
 
Luzerne County government will receive $18.2 million in borrowed funds this week, even though the county was unable to secure bond insurance, county Budget/Finance Chief Tom Pribula said Monday.

Pribula said the county found investors who were willing to buy the bonds without insurance. County officials had thought that the interest rate without insurance would be high, but Pribula said it is comparable to past issues.

The county will repay the debt at a 7.5 percent interest rate through 2019 and a 7.75 percent interest rate through the remaining years until 2027.

“We’ve paid a little higher on some of the previous bond issues that were insured – all the way up to 8 percent,” Pribula said.

The county also will save hundreds of thousands of dollars by not paying for bond insurance, he said.

The borrowed funds had been factored into the 2009 budget, in large part to cover rising employee pension fund subsidies. The county would have run out of money without the bond infusion.

Financial Security Assurance Inc., the primary insurer of government bonds, had expressed concerns about insuring the deal. Specifically, FSA wanted a guarantee in writing that the county won’t continue borrowing and refinancing to cover deficit spending.

Commissioners said they plan to stop living on borrowed funds, but they can’t follow through until they pass the proposed 2010 budget on Nov. 25.

Okay, nothing new going on there--more deficit-spending--except for the troubling fact that we are now carrying uninsured debts. And I found it interesting, almost amusing, how county officials think they managed to spin bad news into it being a sort of, a kind of good thing.


Hey, we’ve got uninsured debts. Isn’t this great!?!

Anyway, after reading that disturbing tripe, I segued into this bit of malarkey, this ingenious triangulating, this purposeful end run around the only checks and balances we will have after the calendar flips to a new year.

Rule irks pay board members
 
Former Luzerne County controller Steve Flood and Commissioner Stephen A. Urban used to regularly block job creations and pay increases on the Salary Board, and it’s expected that Urban and Walter Griffith will do the same when Griffith becomes controller in January.

But county officials have changed the rules in recent months by allowing department heads to cast a fifth vote.

County row officers and the president judge always had a fifth vote on the Salary Board for matters concerning their individual offices, but the county started allowing non-elected department heads to vote on positions in their departments – a practice forbidden in the past.

The three commissioners and county controller always sit on the powerful board, which eliminates positions and sets salaries.

Urban said he does not believe department heads have legal authority to vote.

“Walter will be in a better position to challenge it. He will be able to hire a solicitor who will be able to challenge these types of issues,” Urban said.

Griffith said he won’t agree to allow department heads to cast votes unless he is convinced the law requires it. He is still researching who he will appoint to the solicitor post.

My friend Gort has already posted about this nonsense. And as a result, Wil Toole and Walter Griffith have already gone toe-to-toe in the reader’s comments about possible interpretations of the county code, the law as it pertains to this end run.

But in all honesty, the correct, the proper or the possible interpretations of the language of the county code matters to me not. Not in the least. No, here’s what’s beyond disturbing about this. And for the purposes of this textual exercise, we’ll use facts.

Our county government has been deficit-spending for years on end…another year, another huge bond to cover payroll until the next fiscal year. Our county government is carrying so many outstanding debts, the debt service is going to continue to gobble up large chunks of the operating budget from this day forward.

Yet, with that said, our majority commissioners are pulling this end run around the remaining, the more fiscally prudent members of the salary board as a way of negating any checks and balances we may have gained when last we voted. This move was made to maintain the status quo, the status quo we can ill-afford. No, the status quo we obviously cannot afford any longer.


With the salary board voting 2-2, with no mandatory quorum, what might come about in 2010? Raises? No. Bonuses? Nope. New hires? Not. And I’m just scratching the surface by typing that much.

In other words, the long overdue austerity measures will not come about. When what any fiscally savvy manager would be doing is trimming the payroll during these flat lined economic times, not in Luzerne County. No, apparently our commissioners plan to stop the flood of red ink by…by…by…sticking with things as they have been done in the past. You know, the old way. The expensive way. The red ink way.

Just when we thought we had a level playing field as far as the salary board is concerned, our majority commissioners decided to change the rules in the middle of the game. And for those of you clamoring for transparency in government, I think you just got it. Because from where I’m sitting and typing, this move seems pretty transparent to me.

So, with the economy going through the funk of a lifetime, with costs escalating, with an electric rate cap set to expire, and with government employee pensions about to snuff the financial life out of municipalities far and wide, I ask of our two majority commissioners, what’s changed? What are they going to do differently in the face of a growing (literally) and increasingly troublesome financial mess they’ve gotten themselves, and us, into?

In these most uncertain of economic times, if you’re not changing, you’ve got problems. And if our big two honchos steadfastly refuse to change, then it’s become patently obvious that we need to make a change when next they ask for our vote.

Retention? Vote no to Skrepenak and Petrilla. No more Skrep, no more Petrilla. No more.

If hope and change is really what you want, send these two obstructionists packing the very first chance you get. Because in Luzerne County, hope and change will never arrive in earnest while these two continue to stonewall against progress.

Enough already.

Later

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ruth's (Money Pit?) Place

“This is a neighborhood. They just about characterized it as an industrial park,” Cour said. “I do not believe a neighborhood that has not been ravaged by crime … is the right place for a 24-hour homeless shelter. The North End is a pretty peaceful neighborhood. We aim to keep it that way.”

I am on vacation. Yee-hah!

My plan is to chill out, relax and not much else. Although, I did take a trip to fantasy land yesterday. What a wonderful place.

Ever since I provided the lone dissenting voice against allowing Ruth's Place to set up shop directly behind this modest adobe at the Zoning Board hearing in April, I’ve been keeping my eye on the comings and goings across the street.

It’s been mostly quiet, except for a couple of Scanner Land incidents. There was a threatened suicide. And a stabbing around the corner on Penn Ave. Nothing too, too disturbing.

While making my way through another day at work late last week, I heard an ad on WILK for what the operators of Ruth’s Place are calling the 2009 walk-a-thon, aptly titled "A MILE IN HER SHOES." Long story short, they want to raise some more money for the 24/7 women‘s homeless shelter.

That 24/7 part still confuses me, since the women in question are shown the exit at 7 am every morning. You got me on that one. It’s closed about as often as it is open.

But this constant need for more and more and more money is also a bit stupefying. Follow me here.

This is from the original pre-zoning board hearing article published by the Citizens’ Voice on 4/3/2009:

“…that includes a kitchen area, bathrooms and showers, and is handicap accessible.”
*
Then after the variance was approved on 4/15/2009, the following was published by the Voice on 4/16/2009:

“…and will include a kitchen, bathrooms and showers.”

Then the Times Leader published this news on 6/3/2009, in an article titled “12 county projects funded:”

“Ruth’s Place will receive $25,000 for move-in renovations at it’s new leased location at 425 N. Pennsylvania Ave….”

And, “The shelter is still seeking more donations to complete renovations, so an opening date has not been set, Bolan said.”

Then we fast-forward to 6/7/2009, Citizens’ Voice again:

“The Junior League of Wilkes-Barre…raised $24,000 for Ruth’s Place, which provides transitional housing for local homeless women.”

Plus, “The new building requires bathroom and kitchen renovations before women may move in…”

With that said, the beds were delivered by way of a King’s College van on 6/6/2009, and the homeless women quickly followed suit a few days later.

Nothing contradictory going on here, is there? Did he misspeak? Or, is it just me being suspicious?

Now we move on to 10/28/2009, Citizens’ Voice:

“Ruth’s Place, an emergency women’s homeless shelter in Wilkes-Barre, has been awarded $22,000 through the Luzerne Foundation’s Millennium Circle Fund.”

“The grant will fund renovations at Ruth’s Center, including the addition of bathroom and shower facilities, laundry, stove and kitchen area.”

And now they are a week away from staging a 2-mile walk-a-thon, a fund raiser.

So forget the corporate sponsors, the foundation grants and whatever donations they receive from private donors. And put aside the aforementioned $71,000 in donations for still to be built, for what promise to be the most amazing bathrooms and showers this side of Donald Trump’s mansion. Now they want even more money for Allah only knows what.

First of all, it is not a 24/7 shelter, since half the time it’s empty and locked up. Trust me, I check. If that place is accessible to homeless women 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I’m part of a sleeper cell sent here from Venus by order of Supreme Commander Zorcong the Mighty.

Secondly, already contained within those walls are two bathrooms and a shower. And when you consider that the old shelter was a concrete basement room with mattresses thrown on the concrete floor and little else, even if wholesale renovations are a part of the plan, what’s with the Taj Mahal routine all of a sudden?

The old shelter had no showers and a couple of 100-year-old public rest rooms. The old shelter had no bed frames. The old shelter was a smallish concrete room in a basement better suited for the storage of yard implements, not the housing of people. And abutting that concrete room was a dank and creepy and musty-smelling crawl space extraordinaire.

The point is, the new location is a marked improvement over the old cauldron. The new location is downright awesome when compared to the old place in the church basement. They have donated beds now. Not mattresses thrown on a concrete floor, complete beds. They have a microwave and a refrigerator. And in my mind, I’m thinking any homeless person should be thrilled to have access to that much.

So, why the need for tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of dollars? And why the need for the much ballyhooed improved bathroom facilities that still haven’t been constructed despite a recent, documented influx of $71,000? What? $71,000 isn’t enough? And now they need a walk-a-thon fundraiser for lack of money?

And despite the constant flow of cash into this place, so far, the renovations have consisted of a couple of gallons of paint. From what I’ve seen with my own four eyes, the cash is going to something (or someone) other than the facilities.

When do-gooders ask me for cans of vegetables, an old bunk bed or a gross of Ramen noodles, I’m in. But when all they want from me is cash, cash and still more cash, the red flag immediately goes up. And when they receive the money they requested for promised projects that then never materialize, the internal scam alert goes off.

All I know is, when the words match the actions, then I’ll stop wondering about where all of that money goes. And my Association of Gospel Rescue Missions training has served me well: Acquire foundation grants, secure an empty garage or a basement, and then think of a do-gooder mission that’s, on it’s surface, hard to take issue with. Oh, and then set your own salaries.

If you’re interested at all, here’s my account of the zoning board hearing: A Quorum of Two 4-18-2009

And of course, since I dared to follow up on, take issue with, or raise questions about the “selfless” do-gooders of the world, I’m certain I’ll be pilloried all over again. And the funny part of that is, in this area, it’s not like we’re shocked by scams anymore.

Whatever. I know, I’m a mean sum bee. Go ahead. Have at me, see if I care.

Later

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Election day recap

I keep alluding to the fact that I’ve been working too much, meaning the blogging nonsense has to take a back seat. And I see my professional exploits made Page 2 of the Citizens’ Voice. No, I was not named or interviewed in that story, but the high-rise in question has been my pest control domain of late.

The thing is, even though I am a specialist who’s responsibility is the detection and exclusion of subterranean termites from structures small, tall, old and new, this bed bug epidemic is suddenly getting out of hand. A couple of years ago, bed bugs were something we studied just in case. And now, a select few of us are fast becoming experts on them.

Get this, Halloween night, with women and children making their rounds up and down the street, some jackass appears and does a brake stand down the street with his rice burner, ground effects, asinine muffler, ridiculous rear spoiler and all. Nice. Women pulling their kids back out of fear.

So I sauntered on down there and rapped on his passenger side window with an expandable baton. In all honestly, I’m surprised the window didn’t shatter into nothingness. Er, disappointed I was.

Well, this is what getting older and wiser does to a former madman. Twenty years ago, I would have gleefully punched that side window out, emergency room or no emergency room. But now, alas, now I’m, um, civilized. Sucks, it does.

Anywho, the Latino guy in the driver’s seat lowered the window about two inches (pussy), said something unintelligible and he looked kind of worried. And what I shouted at him would cause NEPA’s resident Latino apologist, WILK’s Steve Corbett, to faint dead away.

To say it was politically incorrect and then some would be an understatement rivaling all known understatements. It was downright provocative in a pussy-whipped, easily-led country on the decline.

Basically, he had two choices: split or get your head, face and who knows what else split. So he split. And rather quickly, too.

That’s what I thought, tough (rice burner) guy!!!

Nothing oxymoronic about that, the tough guy in the hopped-up Neon. No?

I had a phone conversation with controller-elect Walter Griffith the morning before election day. Very, very early on. Even before Sue Henry got to cackling about the election. We covered a wide range of topics including my utter disdain for one of his two opponents. We talked about the waste. The still bloated county government. And the red ink that seems to ebb and flow from the courthouse much like the acid-tinged mine water seeps up from the soil in these here parts.

The ghost jobs. The county official caught selling cars during the daytime. Who still does, by the way. The polka queen who thinks we’re all too completely stupid to follow that she works part-time at her supposedly full-time job. The football player turned inept commissioner. The inept minority commissioner too short to play football. And the newest of the inept commissioners who always seems to say and do the right things, even while the county teeters on the edge of the financial abyss.

And I reminded him that during my management days, when I was considered hyper-aggression but extremely effective at controlling costs and generating profits, I reminded him that the key to controlling costs was by taking things personally. The best way to protect and secure the assets of your employer is to pretend that those assets are yours, that you own them. And in Walter’s case, now that he’s been elected, in effect, those assets--our tax dollars--are his. And ours.

As far as I’m concerned, Walter has taken the profligate spending of our elected and appointed misfits personally for quite some time now. But I figured that he’d win the election day scrum quite handily and then be showered with attention and praise and adulation and Allah only knows what. So I just wanted to remind him what led him to this fateful day…taking it personally.

Funny though, as different as we may be in constitution, habit and what have you, he reminded me that we are kindred souls in that we’ve both been making tons of noise for many years now. That we have. And hopefully, the majority of the noise will be coming from him from here on out.

Election day recap:

I arrived at Dan Flood Elementary by 6:55, voted, and departed at 7:09. Not bad. Easy. Voter #3 I was, with a line of 7 more waiting on behind me.

Makes you wonder why more folks can’t manage a vote. Makes me wonder why 191,041 people register to do a thing, but only a third of them follow though. Apathetic pretenders. Do-nothing complainers. Dumb-asses motivated only when Hope & Change snake oil salesmen come to town promising Utopian fixes and taxpayer-supported gifts. Whiners who mistakenly think registering to vote actually counts as some sort of tally in itself.

For row officers, I went all republican. You know it.

For the Wilkes-Barre school board, I voted for Christine Katsock and Harry Hass and that’s it. No votes for incumbents. Sorry, but the decades-long rumors and the taint that is wholesale indictments makes me wish that all of the incumbents had the mettle to do the right thing and just walk away.

Judges? I voted for Hughes and Amesbury. I voted for Hughes because he is not a Luzerne County Democrat, and I voted for Amesbury because with his somewhat advanced age comes a built-in term limit. Good guys both, so it seems. And Tina Gartley seems to have deserved my vote as well.

On the judge retention votes I voted no and then a resounding no. I’m still not buying the insufferably laughable bit about nobody knowing nothing while perfectly fine kids were being warehoused for money. I’m not buying it.

I wrote in David Yonki’s name for jury commissioner, as did a couple of my coworkers at my request. But after seeing that awful picture of those hideous shorts, I might demand a recall. Something or other. Last time I vote as I’m instructed to do.

Dude, what is up with that?

And that’s all I got. That’s my election day recounting.

With that said, it feels uplifting to have a couple of republican row officers in waiting, even though one of them seems ungrateful and vengeful for whatever unimaginable reason. It feels empowering to think that we’ve actually got a two-party system in this county again. And it makes me hopeful for the future knowing that Renita Fennick is tirelessly working to make this a two-horse race for the foreseeable future.

CHS ‘76, baby!!!

Renita, you did it your way. The legitimate way. I did it my way. The brazen, oft-acerbic, internet in-your-face way. Fred Williams did it his way, via the zircon-encrusted microphone. For me, people such as Nancy Kemp, Ambrose Meletsky (the Mickey Mantle of Luzerne County activists) and Mary Camp were the noise-making pioneers. They caused us, they motivated us to eventually find our way. Still others like Walter Griffith did it their way. As Walter alluded to during our phone conversation, we’re all kindred souls of sorts.

But in the end, no matter our varied and dogged approaches, all that matters now is that we get ourselves a responsive, a responsible and a completely transparent government.

Renita, if I can help at all, feel free to use me.

Later

Monday, November 2, 2009

A message from James O'Meara, Sr.

Voters of Luzerne County:

Have you had enough?

Ask yourself that question when voting on November 3.

We live in a county where indictment-a-day politics has been the norm lately.

The FBI has so many investigations active in our area that we ought to rename Luzerne County the J. Edgar Hoover Annex.

Luzerne county was even featured in a Michael Moore movie, thanks to a kids-for-cash scandal that made headlines worldwide.

Folks, when people in Taiwan are reading about our scandals, well ...Mission Control, we've got a big problem. Corruption is a cancer, and it must be excised.

Some Democrats take issue with a Republican strategy of opposing corruption. They worry it paints all Democrats with a broad brush. I feel for them. I do. It must be extremely frustrating when Republicans can run on the records (and soon, the prison records) of so many folks from the other side of the aisle.

This is a county riddled with corruption. Where accountability is an alien concept. Where in times of fiscal crisis and economic hardships, county department and office heads want $30 million more in 2010 than will be collected in revenues. (Can you say "tax increase?")
Voters are angry. And the Democrats are running scared.

A measure of their desperation is the recent maneuver to encourage people to vote straight party. They are quick to say that the same percentage of voters from each party vote a straight party ballot. But what they don't say is that this helps Democrats and hurts Republicans, as Democrats have the advantage in voter registration numbers in Luzerne county.

Frankly, it's a numbers game and they are hoping voters are not paying attention.

Well, good luck with that. Voters are paying far more attention than they realize. Why?

Because this county is a poster-child for the perils of one-party rule.There are no checks in balances in Luzerne County.

Things must change. Things will change.

It is time for a revolution at the polls in Luzerne County, the first of many in the years to come.I am asking you to take part in that revolution.

When you are voting in this election, take the time to look hard at each and every candidate.

Avoid straight party voting. It is the political equivalent of swine flu, and once you catch it, you're going to be sick for years.

Cast just one vote for the Luzerne County bench: Richard Hughes. Cast no other. A bullet vote for Richard Hughes is a vote for real and substantial change in our courts.

Vote Republican the rest of the way. Give GOP candidates the chance to make the inroads at every level of local government, from school boards to the county courthouse. That's how we bring change. That's how we start creating those checks and balances this county so badly needs: A revolution at the polls.

Ask other voters ...Republican, Democrat or Independent ...to join you in this revolution.

Fight with the weapon so many sacrificed and served to give you over the course of our nation's history: your vote.

Use it wisely.

James O'Meara, Sr.

This e-mail is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Paid for by the 6th District Republican Committee.

Happy voting

Big day tomorrow, hopefully a good day for the residents of Luzerne County. We all know how the dems in this county have a huge edge in registered voters, but we need to reinvent this county from the wasteful one-party oligarchy that it is, from the political hegemony that is has been into a two-party county. That is, we need to do it tomorrow.

I'll be voting early as always, and voting as follows:

Controller: Walter Griffith. (R)

Prothonotary: Carolee Medico Olenginski. (R)

Register of Wills: Gina Nevenglosky. (R)

(That one gives me pause.)

Jury Commissioner: None.

Judge of Courts of Common Pleas: Richard Hughes (R)

Then we have democrats William Amsebury and Tina Polacheck Gartley, and as we all know, I can only vote for one of them. I think they are both qualified, but Gartley seems more so. Although, with Amesbury coming in at 63 years of age, a vote for him is a vote for term limits. And some people are strong proponents of term limits.

And we also have the retention votes on judges Thomas Burke and Peter Paul Olszewski. I still have tonight to rehash this one all over again.

Firstly, I cannot believe that no one other than are two former president judges knew something extremely foul was afoot at the courthouse. Sorry, but somebody either knew, or somebody suspected, perhaps even strongly.

I read here on the local internet that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. And my immediately reaction to that was a reflexive gag. I think one or both of these judges up for retention knew that juveniles were being denied something or other. And PPO's junket to Florida and all of the lavishness that it entailed should have had his mind racing. So, we'll see what happens with that in the morning.

And with that, I'm gonna settle in and listen to all of NEPA rant and rave at and with Steve Corbett on WILK. It's election night eve, and that usually delivers some entertaining local talk radio. And that should go doubly here in Luzerne County...corruption central.

Happy voting.

Later

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Fantasy Land post

First of all, since I'm about to redistribute one of my completely unvarnished fantasy football posts on these make-believe pages, know full-well going in that I need not any comments about sexism, racism, homophobia, zenophobia or whatever it is that offends you by rote on most days.

This is the trash-talking arena, folks. This is what almost all men do and say down at the corner bar, no matter what their killjoy of a 'progressive' girlfriend or spouse with the mostly useless liberal arts degree belives her man is capable of. At the corner bar, the killing of whales is encouraged. At the corner bar, the ozone hole probably isn't safe. At the corner bar, the politically correct ninnies either run for the exits, or get their asses stomped on for daring to be so vociferously outraged for the umpteenth time. Needless to say, you have been warned.

It's gametime, people. Yeah, elections matter, but this is of a much greater importance.

Let's get it on!

It’s been waaaayyyyy too quiet around here of late. And if I’m anything, I’m long-winded. A blowhard, some might say.

Anywho, the Quote of the week: (Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator) Rob Ryan is familiar with Bears QB Jay Cutler from the time the two spent in the AFC West. Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders while Cutler was in Denver. "He could throw a strawberry through a battleship," Ryan said. "He's got a huge arm."

While that’s probably true, there are no active battleships in any navy flotilla the world over. Although, the Russians, long known for their shoddy and substandard military hardware, have two mothballed and rusting away. Not to worry, though. Those vertically-challenged pinheads, the Chinese, will likely buy them and retrofit them. In this day and age, with Aegis systems and sea-skimming anti-ship missiles aplenty, they’ll be sitting ducks even for the lamest of the lame, the oft-marauding Somali pirates armed with the latest high-tech slingshots.

But I digress.

Well, girls, we’ve passed the halfway point of the season, and we’ve all got our sights set on a gaudy championship. Or, in most cases, without yet realizing it or not, fantasy oblivion. Either way, in the grand scheme of things, this stuff ain’t worth hanging yourself over. With that said, I suspect that we’ve got a couple of owners that need to be put on a 24-hour suicide watch. And in these respects, we need to remain vigilant.

Markie…don’t…do…it!!!

Here’s my pre-game assessment of each team heading into week 8:

Goose Necks…What sort of stupid-ass team name is that? What? Is this what becomes of people after years upon years of being force-fed tuna salad with grapes and cranberries thrown in for good digestive effect? Weenies, all!

Capital…Capital of what? Allah H. Christ! If I had a plug nickel for every time this team seriously under performed, I’d call Donald Trump and schedule me full-blown, a no holds barred, a…er, please excuse my temporary lapse of reason. Sorry, Scott.

No need to beat on my daughter or my grandchildren, right? Besides, all of those casts cost good money, correct?

(Gage, Taylor…If daddy loses today, lock yourselves in the tornado bunker and call 911. No sense suffering another fracture.)

Niner Empire…I don’t know what this guy has been generously sprinkling into his Lebanese hash (obviously some sort of opiate synergist) before igniting it with a time-tested sulfur preparation , but last I checked, there ain’t much of an empire going on here.

Then again, I have to give major kudos to Alex for the gracious and congratulatory phone call me made to me after I had soundly defeated him for the second time in just a few weeks. Thanks, Alex, That was nice. And remember, you are my bitch!!!

Pogrom…While this is certainly not an unbiased assessment, I firmly believe that this team rocks. One proviso, though. It is suspected in many circles that the owner of said team is a mad hatter with an unpredictable, sometimes uber violent temperament.

Kringen…Can somebody tell me, what the eff is an effin’ Kringen? Is that a Tennessee thing? Allow me to paint the scenario for you…A farmer comes up behind you and interrupts the ongoing sexual escapades by shouting, “Hey, boy, get your goll dang Kringen out of my cow!”

While I ain’t never had the misfortune to get lost and accidentally stumble into Tennessee, I’m a thinkin’ these here moonshine-addled boys ought to stick to fixin’ the secondhand John Deere when they’re not humpin’ away on their pregnant first cousins.

Opal! You hot lil’ bitch! Get me a god damned beer, will ya!?!

Now, lets take a peek at that perennially weaker division, shall we?

Colors Crue…Colors Crue? See, this is what happens when the borders are left unprotected. What’s the owners name? Mike? Uh, yeah! Short for Miguel, I’d venture to guess.

Let me guess. Fantasy Sunday in this house includes the obligatory television, the perfunctory computer, and a tray-load of rabbit tacos at halftime. Scott, are you screening these prospective owners, or not?

American Idiot…Need I say more? Okay, I’ll say more. Son, fat, drunk, ignorant and losing is no way to go through life. When you reach your horribly shallow apogee before you‘re old enough to shave without assistance, it might be time to blow out the pilot light and make with the fireworks display.

Wacko…I ask for some compelling competition and all I get is wackos, rednecks, illegals and idiots? In my opinion, this guy would be good, very good, if he could simply find something he’s actually good at. A true Zen epiphany on my part.

God (currently frowned upon in a country currently gone completely upside down), I’m good.

Blueballs…Well, since I ain’t one for inspecting testicles real close up like, can we get an officially ruling from the commissioner on this one? As in, what in the funk is a funking blueball already?

Is that like a vein imbalance, or something? One is getting more blood than the other, kind of like what fighter pilots face when doing negative-G dog fighting maneuver dives?

Or is it an issue of being emasculated? If so, dude, if your balls are really that noticeably blue, tell that chick you live with to remove those enormous, bear trap-like clamps. That’s gotta hurt, no?

And finally…

A Style Management…forget the multitude of high-impact trades. Forget the yearly reinvention of the team after the first gut-wrenching loss. Put aside the vast amounts of waiver wire pickups and the costly transaction expenditures. What disturbs me the most about this team is that it can’t even decide what the fudge it’s name is!

Another season, another name. Drinkerz, JDK or some such demented thing, and now A Style Mismanagement? What’s up with the continual identity crisis, fella? Are you not sure about what you are? Are you, are you…dare I say it, are you light in the loafers?

There I said it. Or asked it. Or some such misguided thing. Just answer the question, boy.

And that’s all I got. Them’s my scatterbrained thoughts on all of that sort of next-to-meaningless malarkey. In a nutshell, you all suck and I hate all of you. Well, excepting for those of you that venture to provide me with the telephone numbers (include the area codes) of your pregnant first cousins, that is.

And while I won’t give any of you yet to play me much for your chances of defeating me, you do have my premature, yet deepest of sympathies.

Now…piss off!!!