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



Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ethics Awareness Initiative

From the email inbox:

Hello:
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to think positively about restoring integrity to our community? I’m one of many people who have been working on an Ethics Awareness Initiative for Luzerne County. The Initiative, cosponsored by the Ethics Institute of NEPA and Leadership Wilkes-Barre, aims to raise awareness of the value of ethics and integrity in public life here in Luzerne County.

As our local public corruption scandal deepens, those of us working on this Initiative recognize that people in positions of power and influence, not ordinary citizens, have committed these crimes. However, ordinary citizens have accepted or tolerated dishonesty and corruption as part of our local culture. Isn’t it time for ordinary citizens to change the cultural norms and accepted behaviors of our community, by recognizing and rewarding honest and ethical behavior and by refusing to tolerate dishonesty and abuse of power in public life?

The Initiative begins with a kick-off event next Tuesday, May 4th at the Kirby Center from noon to 1 pm. Our goal, by the end of 2010, is to have hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals sign an Ethics Pledge (attached). I hope you are among the signers. Beginning May 4th, the Ethics Pledge can be downloaded or signed at
http://www.ethicsawarenessluzerne.com/. This Website will include discussion guides for all ages to jumpstart discussions in workplaces, schools, community meeting rooms, places of worship, clubs, social organizations and living rooms across Luzerne County. The Website will also list everyone who signs the Ethics Pledge. (Public officials and candidates, please take note!)

You’ll be seeing more about the Ethics Awareness Initiative in the local media. Please help spread the word, use the Website, and let us know your thoughts or suggestions about next steps.


Many thanks.
Rita


I was all settled in at 7 p.m. and ready to watch the WILK talkers on WVIA TV.

Nancy looked like a young, pre-Ziggy Stardust David Bowie. Webster looked like a nine-year-old Little League rookie anxiously awaiting his turn to play his league-mandated two innings in right field. Sue seemed to have been overdone by the makeup people. And Corbett looked like he needed a bath.

But not long after they got into a few issues, the usual parade started.

Duke from Dallas: "Haliburton" did it.

Kurt Shotko: Critical thinking, drum circles, hashish for everyone... I have no idea what idiocy he was selling tonight, because my eyes glaze over and my ears close the bulkheads when he gets to babbling.

Frank Scavo: God Bless America! Land that...

Urgh!

Off went the television.

After a bit of the baseball box scores, the still radiating radio caught my ear...

"I'm such and such and I write the ____ blog..."

Off went the radio.

With the exception of the committed newcomer and his informative new blog, it was the usual parade of shameless self-promoters.

But if he was not in attendance, someone else would have sauntered up to the microphone and said, "I'm such and such and I write the _____ blog at W W W dot..."

Jeez oh Pete!

Talking with the Talkers?

Been there, done that. And done with it.

Later

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bikeabout revisited

According to a forthcoming report from WNEP, nationwide, all state legislator’s per diems are exempted from taxation as per a bill passed in Congress way back in 1980.

I caught most of this segment on Sue Henry’s WILK show today (most… because I was up to my eyebrows in termites), and according to the guest (who’s name I missed) from WNEP, nobody knows who was behind the original bill. And he surmised that it was quietly bundled with another piece of legislation.

Free cars. Free houses. Free Interns (take that any way you want). Free from taxation.

Yep, those legislators are fighting for you.

NOT!!!

Stay tuned.

I’ll call him a kid because, compared to me, he looks like a kid. Then again, compared to me, damn near everybody looks like kid.

Anywho, today’s version of the Times Leader has this story about how this kid from Wilkes-Barre is petitioning The City of Wilkes-Barre to install bicycle lanes throughout the downtown.

The link: Cyclist starts drive for city bike lanes

The excerpt: WILKES-BARRE – Bikers want a safe path through the downtown.

Albert Martino has started a petition campaign to get bike lanes in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Albert Martino, a 25-year-old city resident, rides his bike daily to and from work and he is circulating petitions to have bike/pedestrian lanes throughout the downtown.

“Motorists are extremely impatient with bikers,” Martino said. “They honk their horns and that could create a dangerous situation.”

Martino said establishing bike lanes would be “proactive” and would prevent incidents.
“It’s time to give everyone their space,” Martino said. “I hope people embrace this idea by signing the petitions.”

Martino has posted the petition on his website – bikewb.org – and people can go there and sign.

The petition states: “In addition to curbing environmental pollution and traffic congestion, the implementation of bicycle/pedestrian lanes throughout downtown Wilkes-Barre would help ensure the safety of both motorists and pedestrians alike. Increased foot traffic would help deter crime on city streets, and most importantly, help local businesses generate revenue. We believe this is truly the next step in establishing Wilkes-Barre as a cutting edge city to both live and work. The purpose of this petition is to allow your voice to be heard. Now’s your chance to be counted, and most importantly, help make a difference in our city.”

I went to his site and signed the petition at near about 6 a.m. this morning and I was the 32nd signer. And by 3:30 p.m., the count was up to 83.

The point being, there are more avid cyclists, or more people interested in commuting by bicycle than our elected leaders might want to believe.

Trust me, I’ve had conversations with numerous members of the current administration about adding bicycling amenities over the years. And to this date, all that was added was the bike racks positioned on, or very near Public Square.

I’ve made the pitch about the bike lanes, as well as traffic signals that can control the bicycle traffic as well as the vehicular traffic simultaneously.

I pointed out that both federal and state grant monies were available to add such amenities.

I stressed that more progressive cities not only have such things, they have bicycling coordinators who promote bicycling as a way of reducing pollution as well as congestion.

I pushed the physical fitness angle.

And I also pushed for a bicycle lane to be added to Wilkes-Barre Boulevard’s western edge, a bike lane that would just about run the entire north-south length of the city. Why not? The grant monies are available. And to this date, so is the narrow stretch of land needed for such a project.

With the mention of this idea, I was told by a city official, “Priorities, Mark. Priorities."

Back during the 80s, I had a letter to the editor published by which I extolled the many benefits of bicycling, and I also urged the-then administration of the city to promote bicycling at every available opportunity.

And after reading the published letter, one of my newer coworkers of the mildly obese variety asked, "Bicycles? What, are you gay?"

Uh, yeah. I guess you got me. Broccoli pizza. No red meat. No pork. No fowl. No seafood. And bicycling? Obviously, I'm light in the pedal-mounted cleats.

(???)

Still, you can count on my full support whereas this petition is concerned.

Every freaking day I read about and hear about how the government at every level is working to fight obesity, childhood and otherwise. And the simple, yet inexpensive solution to obesity is sitting just down the road a ways at the local bike shop.

Get your ass pedaling on a very consistent basis, and your ass will be smaller than you would have ever believed it could be.

And of our elected leaders I would ask, can't we do something progressive-minded just this once?
 
BikeWB.org: For a cleaner, healthier city.

Besides, with Obama in charge, it might not be very long before the bicycle is the chief mode of transportation in Amerika.

See you on the mean streets, kiddies.

Later

Monday, April 26, 2010

GOP news

From the email inbox:

SCHOLARSHIP: Do you know of a young woman who is graduating high school this year? If so, please let her know that the Luzerne County Council of Republican Women is offering a $500 scholarship through an essay contest.

Details are on the GOP GROUPS page of the Web site, http://www.luzernegop.org/

DONATIONS of $10 and up to support the scholarship fund may be sent to: LCCRW Scholarship Fund, c/o Luzerne County Headquarters, 41 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre PA 18701

SIGN BLITZ: Friday, April 30, at GOP Headquarters. Meet at 6 p.m. We’ll set out throughout the county distributing candidates’ signs.

ABSENTEE BALLOT: Do you need one? Know someone who does? Call headquarters at 208-4671 and leave a message. We’ll get an application to you.

CANDIDATE EVENTS:
Jim O’Meara – Campaign Kickoff, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, GOP Headquarters following the 6th District Meeting. Jim is running for State Representative, 121st District

Rick Arnold – 4th District Get-Together, 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28, at GOP Headquarters, Wilkes-Barre. Committee people, elected officials & supporters in the district. Rick is running for State Representative, 119th District.

COMING EVENTS:
Saturday, May 15, 9 a.m., Irem Temple Country Club. Districts 2 & 5 are sponsoring a breakfast in honor of the late Tom Reese. Tickets $25. Call 239-9404 or 208-4671 to make reservations.
Saturday, May 22, 1st Freedom Shoot in support of Karen Boback and Rick Arnold, candidates for state representative. Begins at noon, American Legion Mountain Post 781, Church Road, Mountain Top. Bluegrass band, refreshments, snacks. Download application form on the Web site.


Friday, May 28, 9 a.m., Luzerne County GOP Golf Tournament, Wilkes-Barre Municipal Golf Course, $100 per golfer; $35 for dinner only. We need golfers, sponsors and prizes. Go to the Web site, http://www.luzernegop.org/ and download sponsor/golfer forms and a letter asking for prizes, sponsors and golfers. Info: 208-4671

Check our Web site for updates
http://www.luzernegop.org/

Renita Fennick
Executive Director
Luzerne County Republican Party
570-208-4671


Hey Gort!

Five years, eh? Five freaking years. Hell, I remember when...when, ah, never mind.

Five freaking years, and all that you got, much like me, was some crummy t-shirt.

If we're both still doing this five years from now, you can pick me up on the way to the sanitarium.

"The present day composer refuses to die."--Edgar Varese

Later

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whatever, man

It’s fast getting to the point in this neighborhood that every day is like Cinco de Mayo. To say that this neighborhood has taken on a noticeably Latin flavor would be a gross understatement of the current situation.

Not that I have a problem with it, per se, other than the fact that these people do not assimilate at all. They basically want nothing to do with us born-and-raised indigenous types, so they have in essence created a sub-neighborhood within a neighborhood. Sorry, but it’s just not neighborly.


I will admit to hating the music they blare out of their cars and houses on a daily basis. It’s boring. It’s banal. It’s the same not-so-secret Carlos Santana chord progressions with very little variances from the basic, stripped-down theme.

But there are those days when I get the distinct impression that it’s not that they don’t like the indigenous types, they simply don’t like white people. And if that’s truly the case to any great extent, I’m still good with that.

I’m a dreaded white male. And thanks to the relentlessly misguided rhetoric coming from the left-leaning, I’ve been painted as a villain since I drew my first breath. I never even had a chance. I was born, I was white, I was deemed to be hateful.

To be blunt, I feel that my mission in life is too work longer and harder than I otherwise would have so as to provide for the growing hordes of others who cannot or will not provide for themselves. Having had been on welfare as a teenager, I know a little bit about the “cannot” part. But as for the “will not” part of the equation, I know I’m being had.

Still though, I’m the bad guy. Practically everywhere I look, there are purposely placed reminders to me as well as everyone else that I am a sexist, a homophobe, a bigot and a racist. As I have aged, I have grown more tolerant of others simply because it’s better to be tolerant than being consumed by hate and rage and all of that good stuff that usually brings on ulcers, as well as male pattern baldness.

All of which could be concisely encapsulated as follows: Whatever, man.

It’s just that, as I’ve grown to be more tolerant, nobody seems to be reciprocating. Every demographic group out there still views me--the white guy--as the sexist, the homophobe, the bigot and the racist that I was made out to be in the name of political chicanery.

Getting back to the massive infusion of Latinos into this neighborhood, my son had an interesting insight.

Over the years, there has been a ton of friction between the white and black kids that have played basketball on the court at the nearby playground. And sometimes, that racial strife would result in fisticuffs. And of late, that court has been home to far more Latinos than whites or blacks. And yes, every once in a while, there is an eruption of fisticuffs between whites and Latinos.

As for my son’s observation about the rapidly changing demographics and it’s direct impact on throwing a few punches at the basketball court, he said, “At least they’re (Latinos) small.”

I hear that.

In my day, quite a few punches were thrown at the basketball court, but we played at the court at Dan Flood Elementary, which no longer exists because of two or three cranky neighbors who objected to the F-bomb being launched into the stratosphere at an estimated rate of 10 per nanosecond. But in my day, the fists were always thrown by and at white kids, because that’s all that we had here in the Nord End--white kids.

I once popped my own first-cousin and he proceeded to practically bleed to death through his fattened lips. And if you knew my grandmother at all, you just knew I was a dead man just as soon as I crossed the familial threshold.

By the way, he deserved it. I got a little tired of hearing "goaltending" charges coming from someone who couldn't even touch the damn rim. You either hang, or you don't hang. And if you can't hang, you ought not shoot off your mouth.

Sorry about that one, Will.

So when white kids flip out on each other, that’s just boys being boys. But when some white kid beats on some kid designated to be in the “minority,” that’s a hate crime?

That’s flat-out bunk, and the ulcer-riddled left-leaning should be embarrassed and temporarily banished for having incrementally criminalized one group’s behavior that seems to come so naturally to all of the groups involved.

And as you can see, I am presently circumlocuting, so I’ll get to the point.

With the Latino population noticeably on the rise in this area, I’ve gotten to wondering about something. I’ve heard all of the so-called experts waxing poetic about why the Latinos are drawn to this area…the low cost of living, the affordable housing and the like.

But if we remember our local history, the generation before ours--our moms and dads--broke their backs in the mines and in textile sweatshops so that we would be better educated than they were. And with our enhanced resumes in hand, the mass exodus, the out-migration out of this area began for our best and brightest.

And now that the parents are dying off and the children have no interest in returning to the family homestead, there lies the underlying cause of our affordable housing to a huge degree.

And we all know why this has come about over the years, because of the lack of employment opportunities in these here demented parts. It’s been the same story for decades. You get that degree, and beat it out of here if you want a well-paying job…a career.

So, with that said, where are all of these recent arrivers working? Let’s be honest, there’s only so many under-the-table landscaping and roofing jobs to be had. So, where are all of these Latinos working at?

Or, as has been cited numerous times by Sue Henry as well as myself, there sure seems to be a lot of people idly milling about all day long in the Nord End of my once fair city. And the great preponderance of them are not of the pigmentation-challenged variety.

Which leads me to my next question. With record numbers of people flocking to an area traditionally known for lacking quality employment opportunities, where are these people working at? Or, you could ask, are these people, these recent arrivals, working at all?

While it may be anecdotal to the freaking hilt, a walk around, or a bike about throughout my neighborhood clearly suggests that they are not.

But who cares what I might think.

I’m just one of those hated white boys who has to hump, hump and hump some more.

Whatever, man.

Bye

Saturday, April 24, 2010

One step forward, three missteps back

After a dozen years or so of hanging onto a hammer drill all day long, my right elbow is really starting to ache on a continual basis.

It was suggested that I see my doctor about it, but what’s he going to tell me…That’s it’s not a particularly great idea to hang onto a hammer drill all day long much longer than a decade?

Perhaps I should change my party affiliation, join the Democrats, and put in a requisition for some, ahem, medicinal marijuana.

Oh wait. I misspoke. Er, mistyped. That would be the Green Party--the Dems on dope and in disguise.

Did any body hear about the new Obama- inspired Happy Meal at McDonald’s?

It’s awesome. You go through the drive-thru, collect your goodies at the second window, and the people in the vehicle behind you pay for it.

What do you think of the big mass-gathering at the airport yesterday?

You had the Senator from Scranton, as well as the vice president of the entire U.S of A shebang on hand and stumping for the self-enamored turncoat turned turncoat again, Mr. Single Bullet Theory himself, and nobody showed. Well, save for the volunteers, the paid underlings and the locally elected from the same party, that is.

Nobody showed.

And WILK’s Sue Henry, who covered the event for her station, called it “sedate…very uninspired,” and “very flat.”

Politically speaking, I’m thinking that Mr. Single Bullet should have saved one for himself.

When did Earth Day become Earth Week? I must have missed that.

Guess what I did on Earth Day. Why, I injected termiticide into Mother Earth. Yes, yes, I’m destroying the planet. I know, I know. Please stop crying. But it’s either that, or one of Mother Earth’s creations destroys your home. You make the call.

And why is the official Earth Day celebrated during the work week more often than on the weekend, when easily-led people would rush to prove they care?

Seems to me if you tree-huggers want damn near everybody out hugging trees, singing to flowers, thinking (FU>KING!) reverent thoughts alongside the local, leech-filled marsh, or weeping at the site of an illegally dumped tire, you ought to pin this event to a Saturday.

I’m just saying. Don’t shoot me, I’m only the guitar-playing blogger.

It’s been obvious of late that both Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith and Luzerne County Budget Director Tom Pribula have been doing everything within their limited powers to cut costs and protect the best interests of the taxpayers.

It matters not if you’re still fuming about the last election, and you’re still hesitant to give Griffith any credit at all. If that’s where you’re still stuck at, by all means, leave a comment disparaging him. Go for it. Oh, and make sure to post your usual swill anonymously.

Anyway, while the Dynamic Duo of Griffith and Pribula have been pointing out the waste of or abuse of taxpayer-supplied dollars practically here, there and frickin’ everywhere, the commissioners have again been handing out raises, plus extra paid time off to unionized county employees.

Someone tell me how you can be a half billion dollars in debt and then justify raises as well as more paid leave.

Luzerne County: One step forward, three missteps back.

I see that Gort was allowed to approach Senator Arlen Spector at the big stump event at the airport for the purposes of asking him a few questions.

I am assuming that this impromptu interview was conducted while the vice president and his phalanx of heavily-armed federal bodyguards were still on the scene.

And if that was the case, and if I was also in attendance, at that exact moment when Gort was very up close and personal with the elected members of the ruling class, I’m not sure I’d be able to resist the flaring temptation to yell GUN!!!

Sure, I’d replace what was lost as a result. I mean, what’s a three-pack of jockey shorts going to set me back?

Ill-advised? Sophomoric? Immature? Stupid as all hell?

I plead insanity.

Besides, I was the first juvenile in the history of the country to have received shock treatments for my auto-hostility issues. Right?

Later

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dad's fiddle

Check this pap from WILK's Steve Corbett:

Mayor Tom Leighton Should Tell Voters The Truth

Tell them what? That he may or may not have a penned a letter on his own time in support of a friend in need? Is there something ignoble about that?

Where does this stop, Steve? Should Leighton have to provide copies of every letter he's ever written to you? And all because he thinks very little of you, as well as that shout-fest you call conversing?

The fact of the matter is, now matter how that premeditated encounter worked out, Corbett would have twisted the results (yes, no, maybe) which ever way he needed to to slam his favorite target.


Personally, I'm happy my mayor turned his back on this self-aggrandizing buffoon. I and also hope that mayor did not turn his back on a friend, no matter his name, his elected or appointed position, or what his legal problems may be.


Hey, Corbett? Did you ever have a friend get themselves in trouble? If you did, did you turn up your nose and turn your back on them in their hour of need? Sure sounds like it.

WILK: News, talk and now thuggery.

There's less than a month remaining before next we vote, so you in the local blogging community know what that typically means.

Out of the cove base they come, new poliblogs looking to swing local elections:

Pennsylvania's Political Clouds

Although, while still in it's infancy, it seems to be fairly well done. Further posts will tell the tale, though.


Check it out.

And look at what I ran across on Meade Street...

An A for effort, I'd say. We're all entrusted with a vote, and we're ll entitled to our opinions.

But staying abreast of current events, don't let the A.T.F. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Foodstuffs) catch you with a container of salt. The Fedrule Govmint has begun it's War on Salt.

(???)

I was at the courthouse earlier today as ATF agents were executing a federal search warrant on the offices of all three of our commissioners. And from what I could see, all of the snack crackers, pretzels and potato chips were confiscated from the vending machines.

(???)

I received this rather large package by way of the USPS yesterday afternoon. And my first thought was of Kayak Dude. Holy moley, what has he got up his sleeve now, I thought.

But then I glanced at the large return address label, which had also made the trip direct from Colorado. And instantly, I knew what the carton contained. Well, at least, somewhat.

Contained within that carton was my father's violin and case, which I have a photo of him circa 1949 fiddling away on. As well as photos of him playing a guitar, the drums, a piano and a trumpet.

While this may sound stupid and overly sentimental, my heart raced. Never since 1962 have I laid eyes on anything that was my father's. And especially something that was so personal--his violin.


Cousin Anne ( previously unbeknownst to me but a few short months ago) also sent along a slick video loaded with previously unseen photos of the Cour clan that I had missed out on growing up with. Or even knowing about.

And lost in the paper packing materials, but found some time later, was this little wooden box presumed to have been constructed by my dad while in wood shop or some such thing. Again, while this too may sound dumb, I found this little box to be quite fascinating.

And I sat here studying it's every scratch, dent and the numbers and such scribbled on it. I figured that, when my dad was a kid, this box was probably important to him. Perhaps within this box he kept the little nothings, the do-dads and the like that were important to him. Amazing. One of those, 'if I could cry, I would have' moments.

Can you imagine him showing up here one day soon only to find that long-forgotten 70-year-old, smallish wooden box of his sitting here? He be floored. Or accuse me of burglary.

Cousin Anne, you have no idea, nor will you ever understand what an equally thrilling and unique experience you have provided me with. One that I've never experienced before. One that I never thought I would have.

Anne, a heartfelt thank you.

It's kind of surreal to have family heirlooms without ever having met the family.

P.S.--could you email me that photo of my dad when he was five? I want to flash-drive that one and head down to CVS.


Later

Monday, April 19, 2010

Frick the freaking fracking!

“You have finally evolved into a progressive, liberal environmentalist.”--Kayak “Tree-hugger” Dude.

There are those times when I hate that guy.

Did you ever write and then publish an ersatz essay of sorts while under the influence of a semi-synthetic opioid, plenty of cheap domestic beers and two other prohibitively expensive pharmaceuticals designed to keep your bruised lung from filling with fluids?

I did.

Death of an S-10

Which leads me to this new law in Wilkes-Barre, the one by which police officers can pull you over and fine you for talking on your phone, texting on your asinine Internet-ready gizmo and, generally, being an inattentive ass while hurtling forward a 4,000-pound hunk of steel, graphite and plastic.

If you’re prepared to be honest, you will readily admit that you, yours and practically everyone else is driving while making love to their shiny, new hand-held device. And it really needs to stop. It really does.

Anyway, what I like most about this new piece of legislation is what it will mean for the interdiction of illegal narcotics.

There is no faster way of tamping down on the transport of illegal narcotics than giving police officers yet another reason to stop (and hopefully search) damn near every vehicle they happen across.

So, if you’re a doper, or a former vo-techer, you ought not use that cell phone of yours while navigating the length of my city.

Now let's make sure those new tazers of ours are fully-charged.

Love it, I do.

I’ve read the newspaper stories, I’ve listened to the callers on talk radio, and I’m really not grasping how the DER’s decision to bitch-slam Cabot Oil is somehow a great victory for the residents of NEPA.

You know, you people were warned. Some of us tried to warn y’all as far back as two years ago?


Frickin’ fracking? (7-26-2008)

Still though, the lands were leased, the wells were contaminated, and now, now…now, the powers that be are being reactive when they should have been thinking proactively more than two years ago. And for some, it’s too late. It’s too late for those who are now rightfully fearful of their water supplies. And fearful of what will become of the value of their biggest investments…their properties.

As far as I’m concerned, there was plenty of documented evidence from other states that proved without a doubt that the hydro-fracturing of bedrock with millions upon millions of gallons of carcinogen-laced water probably could and probably would lead to a disastrous end.

But still, the state allowed this well-documented threat to our water supplies to go forward. And now, it’s not going as was previously advertised. Actually, it’s gone quite badly to this point.

I really hate coming-off sounding like one of those “Tree-hugging NIMBY liberal obstructionist PINKO and EnviroNazis,” but with the enduring legacy of this area being what it is--trying to undo the unbelievable environmental damage of the now-defunct Anthracite Coal industry--you’d think both the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as their glad-handing, self-serving politicians would have seen this one coming from a mile away.

Look, I like simplicity. I like to strip things down to their basic components.

And when someone from some out-of-state energy company says they are going to inject a billion gallons of carcinogen-laced chemicals into the ground under my home, within a thousand yards or so of my well-head, I’m thinking the dollar signs fluttering before my four eyes pale in comparison to the nightmare that would be having a seriously compromised water supply.

I can do without a helluva lot of things. But I can’t do without a safe water supply.

What were you people thinking?

Frickin’ fracking?

Yep, we really tried to warn y’all. It’s become all the rage of late for those hopelessly addicted to talk radio. But for some, for a select few, it’s become a continuing nightmare with no end in sight.
So, going forward, heed the words of those who have learned the hard way: Frick the freaking fracking already!

And with that, I’m off to sit with, gently stroke and read poetry to my favorite tree.

Later

Sunday, April 18, 2010

From the archives

A little kid and his hero--Gage Andrew and Larry.


Good stuff.

Later

"Hose Dudes" mug recall

Mess with Godzilla, tempt Gorgo, defy Gort, run from the Triffods, but do not mess with public unions.

From the reader’s comments:
 
Rocket said...
In your ramblings about the police you fail to inform the public that the Wyoming Valley FOP, which includes Wilkes-Barre City Police, has also endorsed Yudichak on February 18th of this year. Why do you think they would do that? Maybe they want to keep Leighton in the City for them!!I also cannot believe the 180 degree turn you have made on the WBFD after all the free t-shirts and mugs you took from them. Just remember not to blame Delaney, the installer of your smoke detectors, but Leighton if you or your family have a medical emergency or fire and there is a delay in the response due to the Mayor's new manning procedure.
April 18, 2010 2:15 AM


Rocket?

Whoa! Def Leppard at the arena! That was freaking awesome, man.
 
Rocket! Yeah!! Satellite of love!!!

Rocket.

Yeah.

I did not take issue with that endorsement, something you probably should have thought through before launching (rocket) into your ill-advised and easily-dismissed diatribe.

Nothing against John Yudichak, but the acquisition of grant monies by those who are ultimately measured by the acquisition of grant monies does not excite, nor does it impress me.

Answer me this…State legislators are most revered for their legislative accomplishments (yeah, right!), or for the huge cardboard checks they deliver at hastily-arranged press conferences?

I really don’t have a problem with Yudichak as much as I have a problem with public sector unions being willing to bankrupt the entire shebang, and to be ready and willing on a moments notice to sully the reputations of those that are actually charged with weighing the cost/benefit ratio of services on a local level. Something that Yudichak has never had to deal with.

John Yudichak works in Harrisburg, hence, he has next to no idea what the hot-button issues are here in Wilkes-Barre. And if the WBPD, by extension, quietly endorsed him, so be it. But, by way of that “endorsement,” they did not go out of their way to attack anyone. Note the distinction.

What the WBFD wanted, it got…a stinging union rebuke of yet another mayor down Wilkes-Barre way. So, what else is new?

But what I do have a serious problem with is public sector unions making political hay so as to benefit themselves. So, what else is new?

Even though you fail to understand, this is not about Tom Leighton. If Tom Leighton disappears from the landscape, and ultimately, from the lexicon, the overly-politicized fire department will still be here and eager to disparage the next mayor, the mayor after that and the one after that. So, what else is new?

Whatever. You people are starting to bore me to no uncertain end.

Free t-shirts and mugs?

You’re under the influence, right?

Free? Um, allow me to explain this to those who were not a part of Wilkes-Barre’s many travails just a few years ago.

What I got from the WBFD was a few freebies, while what it got from me was the unmitigated audacity and unchecked temerity to publicly chastise and embarrass a city administration that cared not at all for public safety.

I was the volunteer lightning rod by which the WBFD struck at the core issues of the administration’s lack of attention to public safety issues, while it also lacked any wherewithal regarding finances and how a financial death spiral could and would impact all things public safety.

Make no mistake about any of this recent history, I was the man. I huffed, I puffed, I typed, the administration blinked, and the adoring Wilkes-Barre fire department cheered me on the entire time.

So what’s your point? Now that I’ve dared to defy the union, now that I’ve clearly fallen out of favor with the union brothers, I have no right to those “Hose Dude” mugs I, myself inspired the very creation of?

And the shirts? I accepted and proudly wore those shirts when most of the residents of this city were clueless as to how rusted fire trucks that had to be pushed out of the “Rain Forest” to get going could quickly and negatively impact upon their lives.

Don’t forget history, champ! Don’t forget who you’re talking at, champ!

As for Chief Delaney, remember, he was an unprecedented and uninvited interloper when my federally-supplied smoke detectors were installed.

This was fairly easy to follow at the time. You called fire headquarters, you requested the “free” smoke detectors, and then you would be placed on a months-long waiting list. So I called. And I figured that some day, not anytime soon, a fire engine would arrive and two firefighters donning a cordless drill would attach the state-of-the-art hardware to this modest adobe. I had seen this done at the homes of my neighbors.

Oh, but when Markie called, that very same Markie that was challenging his mayor in a very new electronic forum, well, then the accepted protocol went out the window in favor of some political intimidation. And shock of shocks, my "free" smoke detectors were installed inside of 36 hours

For the first time in recorded history, the fire chief felt it was necessary to accompany the two firemen who installed our two smoke detectors, and he was also compelled to quiz Wifey about where my computer was situated. Nice.

In retrospect (and at that time), it was easy to understand what was afoot. The mayor’s biggest and loudest and most bombastic critic requested the smoke detectors, and the mayor, as well as the fire chief, felt compelled to intimidate rather than accentuate what would normally be called a positive.

Mugs? Shirts?

Dude, I earned them all. I earned them. Each and every one of them. I was the fearless one when practically everyone around me was telling me I should be fearful of the elected and their many useless minions.

Somehow, I saw my duty and I did it. You didn't, I did. I did it. And now I'm not even worthy of a freaking beer mug?

Man, that's cold. That's just wrong.

But not one to lose perspective, I’ll say this.

I reside in Wilkes-Barre, which employs a paid fire department. And despite all of this heated Internet back-and-forth, I know damn well that if the "cleaning house" call goes out, the WBFD will be here inside of four minutes.

Cut-backs, union demands, economic realities and all of the political upheaval put aside, the emergency services in Wilkes-Barre are second to none in these here parts.

Why I feel free to take issue with a union’s lack of professionalism and acceptance of reality, I will never take issue with the professionalism of those who are paid to be the first responders in Wilkes-Barre.

I have seen these guys and girls in action way too many times to ever dare to take issue with their obvious professionalism, their knowledge, their unflappable courage under fire and their overall commitment to the public‘s good.

What we have here is a matter of cost, and how best to manage it. Or, as was done in the past, how best to mismanage it.

G’nite

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie, Mick Ronson and, ahem, me.



While I fully recognize David Bowie's creative genious, you would have never even heard his name without the production skills of, the orchestral arrangements of, the legendary guitar work of and the piano stylings of one Mick Ronson.

Ziggy played guitar.

There you go, Sue Henry. There's my vote for the best piece of vinyl ever pressed. For what it's worth, there it is.

Later

Markie Sucks Part II or: Do not defy us

It's nothing short of amazing to me that I'm the guy that penned the once well-received moniker "Hose Dudes," I'm probably the only resident of Wilkes-Barre still in possession of a Hose Dudes mug collection, the T-shirt collection, as well as the pink "Hose Chicks" T-shirt.

Yet, I am now, and have been for some time, deemed to be persona non Grata by those who once vociferously cheered me on.

And I'm all good with that. Completely. I'm happy to admit that I'm smart enough to recognize that there is an ebb and flow to the prescient issues of the day. But it's become readily apparent that, for some, the issues remain the same no matter who happens to be the elected leader of the city.

Allow me to reprint a reader's comment that was sent my way...

JoeD said...
Marc, I read your first post and the comments. I agree that the guy from Wbonline would have done a little more research than just reiterating the half truths the mayor has been using for his reasoning for firehouse closures.

I've read that the firemen have lost 20 men through retirement or whatever over the last few years and no one was replaced. My question as a taxpayer is what did the mayor do with the savings from the salaries of all those people. Please don't say it all went to the police because although I'm not as well informed as you are, the city received grants for a good number of those much needed police officers. God Bless.
April 16, 2010 11:31 PM

Trust me, the guy from Wilkes-Barre Online is alive, well and still given to doing hours upon hours of research. By the way, research which would include a few telephone conversations with the very man who negotiated the most recent contract that the rank-and-file firefighters agreed to, was well-received, but was summarily dismissed just as soon as the then-vacationing union leadership caught wind of it.

Spare me the soft-pedaled insults. Spare me this utter nonsense that I no longer do my necessary homework, simply because I abandoned my former, long-running Web site because I no longer wanted to be pigeonholed into writing about every minute detail about Wilkes-Barre.

Now I challenge you to do some necessary homework.

Name for me an administration of Wilkes-Barre, past and present, that the union leadership of the fire department did not go to war with, disparage in public, stage public protests against, or claimed was ignoring public safety. Go for it.

I'm waiting.

The way I remember it (no research required), the union leadership has waged war against every mayor it has ever run across during my adult years. It hates the 6 years of Leighton. It railed against McGroarty for 8 years. And it staged public protests during the 8 years of Namey, when Namey openly suggested that the fire department be scaled back due to the escalating costs of maintaining it at it's then-present levels. Sound familiar?

Research?

Trust me, this is really not hard to follow. This is yet another glaring example of public sector unions ignoring financial realities, ignoring the financial plight of those they are sworn to serve, and trying to systematically browbeat elected officials into spending more than they have at their disposal. Er, at our disposal.

As far as the long-overdue swelling ranks of the police department is concerned, their ranks began to swell just as soon as Mayor Tom Leighton correctly and smartly took advantage of an updated state law and raised the occupational privilege tax from $10 to $52 per resident, and then invested the immediate $1 million windfall in the hiring of 11 new police officers.

Look, I'm not going to waste much more of my important time arguing with the "anonymous" public sector, unionized employees who continually seek unfettered access to my wallet, as well as every other imported wallet. Sorry, kiddies, but Washington and Harrisburg come first. And based solely on their woeful financial predicaments, I'd say you localized union brothers are very close to being sh*t out of luck.

Now let us take a stroll to the email inbox:

Like you , I have been a long time supporter of WBFD. It is time to take a real look at the city, its future and its past. Compared to similar departments in the United States Wilkes Barre has a Unbelievable retirement package, past administration agreed to this in a spend now pay later attitude....Guess what later is now. and it is breaking the already strained back of the city. If it was just about staffing levels then why not take the FIREMAN who drive the ambulances and put them back in the Engines. Oh yeah, the union won't allow that. The city already uses per-diem paramedics why not use per-diem drivers. (non-firemen).

There are a great many firemen up for retirement........and sadly it is this group that won't give an inch. At sometime in the future the city will be forced to to break the union in order to survive......The city could be reduced to paid fire engine drivers and volunteer firemen. Across the board new realistic contracts need to be agreed to by the unions and the city.

Police: Say what ever you want......the city has change so much...crime, violent crime is much more prevalent. And it seems every punk has a gun. No one wants to hear it but the police officers are still out numbered on the streets. The cancer or bad areas of the city are growing..........is that the mayors fault......Hell no!!

I thank you for staying clear on the issues the city faces. With the decrease in tax base and future revenue looking bleak no matter who makes up the administration of W_B City............more hard to swallow decisions need to be made. I consider many of Wilkes Barre City's Firefighters personal friends they need to relook at the overall picture .

Keep typing the truth.....
God Bless
XXXXX

Name deleted by your most hated of authors.

Here, here!

Where is it written that while the increasingly horrified private sector stares down the loaded barrel of the Great Depression II, the public sector should have their every financial demand met, no matter how unreasonable, or how completely self-serving and how completely devoid of the reality of the financial sophistry may be?

There is an old Yiddish phrase that aptly applies here...

Fu>k them!!!

Bye

Friday, April 16, 2010

WBFD: Markie sucks

I would like to personally thank the members of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department (reader's comments attached to my previous post) for helping me to prove my point that if you mess with public sector unions, you are a dead man.

Thanks, guys. Thanks for making it so freaking easy. Damn, you guys got sucked into that cleverly-laid trap faster than plastic lawn ornaments get sucked into the spinning vortexes of marauding tornadoes.

Now let us examine the feedback I received, which reminds me of those heady days when first I started writing on the Internet. Here we go! I'm fat, old, ignorant, stupid, in bed with someone, or looking for some sort of political payback for my efforts. None of which even remotely scrapes the peripheral edges of the long-elusive reality you steadfastly hold out hope for.

Let us cover a couple of specifics, shall we?

Is my daughter still employed by the Wilkes-Barre Area School District?

No, in fact, she is not. Rather, she is now employed by the Crestwood School District, teaching young women how best to approach things when they dare step onto an athletic field of battle. She's a warrior, and she always was.

But is was wildly amusing to see that someone would stoop so low as to suggest that she secured some sort of political job because of her dad's last name, rather than what really happened--the WBASD advertised coaching openings, she applied, and based on her lengthy and proven athletic resume, she was hired.

Some of you people are equal parts funny and sad. I addressed an issue, but never even thought of going after anyone's family because of it. Your bad.

And...public financing for my restaurant idea? To be honest, I'm really not sure what that one was all about.

Before the members of the WBFD abruptly turned their backs on me, I was their champion for volunteering to be their defender, their intermediary, while they were doing constant battle with the McGroarty administration. A rogue administration that had this nasty habit of working to publicly embarrass the firefighters at every available opportunity.

And when Tom Leighton secured his electoral victory over Tom McGroary, the firefighters in this city did rejoice. But then the economic realities that where first brought up by the Namey administration started to echo.

And the reality was that we had a city whose streets were slipping away from it, necessitating a return to law & order, i.e., an increased emphasis on policing and projecting a much enhanced police presence.

So the balancing act began for Tom Leighton. He was faced with multitudes of angered and frightened residents who were outright demanding an enhanced police presence, and not an enhanced fire department. So he delivered upon one of his cornerstone campaign promises by boosting all things policing.

Now, public safety has more than that policing facet, but here's the clear distinction between the fire department's and the police department's reaction to being squeezed by politicians and their agendas.

When the police department was purposely dwindled to record low numbers by a hostile administration, it never went public. The Wilkes-Barre Police Department, even when it's officers were responding to violent domestic calls without backup, never went public with their concerns. And if we remember correctly, I'm the rarest of the rare in that I am a resident that has spent entire shifts riding along with our police officers on multiple occasions.

And never, not even once, did a single member of the WBPD engage me in a political conversation. Not once. When we were out there on the mean streets, the focus was on the task at hand--those mean streets. Which is really saying something when you consider that these police officers knew full-well that they were riding with a political animal. And I respect them for their obvious restraint, as well as their single-minded sense of purpose.

But I cannot say the same thing for those who regularly don turnout gear for the WBFD. Quite the opposite is true. These guys are political animals extraordinaire. And history suggests that they always have been, ever since the first rumblings of the fiscal necessity of reducing the size of the fire department were first heard during the latter stages of the 1980s and beyond into the Namey administration of the early 90s.

All of which suggests that the budgetary writing was on the wall twenty years ago. And that the WBFD has had a contentious relationship with the City of Wilkes-Barre as far back as anyone can remember.

Basically, they have too much time on their hands. They have fleeting moments of terror interrupted by prolonged bouts of boredom. And when they are so-often idled, they get to doing what employees the world over do when their minds and bodies are not occupied--they bitch about their employers.

Contrast that sitting around and waiting for adrenaline to what the police officers in this city face day-in and day-out. Listen to me tell it, a ride with one of Wilkes-Barre's finest will be the fastest passing 8 hours you will ever spend. They go, they go, they go some more, they snack out of Turkey Hills if they get the chance and their focus never wavers.

More importantly, I have never once heard an on-duty Wilkes-Barre police officer engage in a single conversation about city politics, or how any of it has a direct impact on their jobs. When they are on the job, the only thing on their minds is the job. They are a devoted and equally impressive bunch.

And I think the reason the WBFD is so completely politicized is because the fire department simply has too much idle time on it's hands. Idle time in which it can mimic the words of it's inept union leadership. Idle time in which it can lambaste administration after administration after administration. Idle time in which it can get after some blogger who dared to take issue with any of their incessant and expensive demands.

I goaded them in, and they rushed to prove my point. Much like they would rush into a burning building, while everyone else ran screaming from it. Still, they proved my point.

Do not mess with public sector unions on a continual rampage, a continual taxpayer-supported feeding-frenzy. Do not dare to go there.

Thanks, guys.

Now go back to sleep.

Buh-bye

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PPFA: Leighton dared to defy us

This is fun...

From the email inbox:

Please see below and/or attached. For immediate release.

STATE SENATE CANDIDATE JOHN YUDICHAK RECEIVES UNANIMOUS ENDORSEMENT OF PA PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION

Wilkes-Barre Township, PA -- John Yudichak, Democratic State Senate candidate in the 14th Senatorial District, received the unanimous endorsement of the Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association (PPFA). The formal announcement was made today by Art Martynuska, President of the Association.

“The Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association always supports those public servants who expound public safety, like John Yudichak,” said PPFFA President Martynuska. “Additionally we will oppose those who don't put the safety of those we're sworn to protect first.”
The Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association’s endorsement is the third major endorsement for Yudichak in the past three weeks, following the unanimous endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police Wyoming Valley Lodge # 36 and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council. As State Representative from Luzerne County for the past 12 years, Yudichak has forged a strong record of support for public safety institutions in northeastern Pennsylvania, including securing $750,000 in state funding for the construction of the Luzerne County Community College’s Public Safety Institute, which has provided state-of-the-art law enforcement and fire fighting training to more than 1,500 aspiring public safety professionals since its opening in 1997. The Institute is certified as a Pennsylvania Fire Service Certification Program field test site, allowing it to conduct state and national certification tests. It has provided training to the National Response Team of the Arson and Explosives Division of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“I am truly humbled and honored to have earned the endorsement of the PA Professional Fire Fighters Association,” said Yudichak. “The safety of the citizens of northeastern Pennsylvania has always been a priority to me. Our police, fire fighters, and first responders are heroes in my book and are deserving of our respect, support, and gratitude. As State Senator, I will continue to fight for increased public funding for those who put their lives on the line, 24/7, to ensure our safety.”

The PA Professional Fire Fighter Association represents more than 10,000 paid professional Fire Fighters throughout Pennsylvania. The association represents firefighters in such towns as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, New Castle, York, McKeesport, Williamsport, Bethlehem, Easton, Sharon, Warren, Bradford, Washington, Oil City, Lehigh Valley International Airport, Lancaster, Chester, Hazelton, Allegheny County, Allentown, Ambridge, Altoona, Butler, Chambersburg, Connellsville, Johnstown, Hanover, Greenville, Swissvale, Meadville, Norristown, Reading, Titusville, Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Carbondale, Coatsville, Corry, Dormont, Dunmore, Franklin, Lebanon, Luzerne County, Manchester Twp., Nanticoke, Springettsbury Twp., Spring Garden Twp., Jeannette, Wilkinsburg, Upper Darby, Uniontown, Wilson Boro, East Whiteland Twp., Upper Moreland Twp., Whitpain Twp., Bellevue, Peters Township, East Goshen, Wyomissing, Berks County and Washington County.

Pennsylvania’s Primary Elections will take place Tuesday, May 18th.

CONTACT: John Yudichak
570-855-2659
info@yudichakforsenate.com

That's a big surprise, ain't it?

Whoopee! John Yudichak secured some grant money, which was expected of him all along when first he went off to Harrisburg (while he used per diems to purchase a home) so he's deemed to be a champion of "public safety."

And I just love this intentional shot across the bow to the elected and those aspiring to be elected everywhere...

“Additionally we will oppose those who don't put the safety of those we're sworn to protect first.”

Translation: Mo' money, yo?

Not so veiled code for, if you fu>k with public sector unions (the bull), you get the horn. Yeah, a shot over the bow of Leighton, who addressed public safety by hiring two new platoons of police officers, as well as financing the acquisition of countless new PD vehicles.

Oh yeah, and he did renovate 2 long-neglected firehouses, he did finance the building of a brand new one, and he did replace all of the city's rusted and aging fire engines. All a part of his 5-year plan to rapidly modernize our outdated apparatus and facilities. There was that.

So the unionized firefighters far and wide decided to band together and punish Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton for daring to balance his budgets no matter what. And for also refusing to deficit-spend no matter the relentless pressure to do so from within his own fire department.

He's got a record as an executive. And Yudichak's got a record as a legislator.

Tom Leighton, the executive, has done everything within his power to balance the budgets, restore this city's bond rating, and not further burden the taxpayers with increased taxes during the undeclared Great Depression II.

And Yudichak, the legislator, well, he and his in Harrisburg have resided over tax increase after tax increase after tax increase after fee increase after fee increase, and Pennsylvania is still fast headed towards a fiscal crisis. Oh, but he secured some grant monies we don't really have anymore.

You figure it out. Hint: Public sector unions believe that the private sector (us) exists only to meet their incessant demands.

If you're mulling a run for an elected office at some point, learn from this lesson.

If you mess with public sector unions, your name quickly becomes Candidate Mud.

Later

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Frackahanna

So the raids continue.

Update: Feds seize dredging project records

Honestly, I know not of the sordid details, nor do I care. But know this. Thanks almost entirely to the long-entrenched but now fast-flailing Luzerne County political hierarchy, you'll not see any federal investigators being laid-off anytime soon. Sad but true.

Anyway, here's my quick take on this breaking news.

In Luzerne County, we can't even endeavor to fill a hole in the ground without someone running afoul of the law.

Still wondering how we continually end up 51st out of 50 on practically every measurable category?

Really?

And personally, I'm getting a bit fed up with these plea agreements, these slaps on the wrists of the easily corruptible players who sought out personal enrichment rather than societal progress for all involved. Let's start putting these people on trial and see just how many recognizable names spill out as a result.

Let's clean house.

Here's my textual impression of WILK's Steve "I am a Mexican and a feminist" Corbett's daily assault on my ear drums...

I!!! ME! I!!! ME!!! I!!! ME!!!

Years after the initial injection of the facts on the local radar, he's glommed on to yet another issue--hydrofracturing--and he's now posturing himself as NEPA's biggest defender of the watershed. And the folks that actually drove this issue into the limelight long before he ever heard of it recognize him as the belated phony that he is.

Hey, Kung Fu Steve, some of us were here in the NEPA trenches all along while you were off to California sucking up to Michael Jackson.

Frack off!

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority has decided against processing millions upon millions upon millions of gallons of fracking fluids sure to be recaptured from the soon-to-arrive natural gas drilling misadventures.

Not a problem.

I say we allow the gas-drilling companies to release all of the gurgling-to-the-surface fracking fluids into the Susquehanna River, and any of it's many tributaries. You know the now oft-repeated drill: we need energy independence.

Again, not a problem.

So release all of the fracking fluids into the watershed, and after we realize our long-sought-after energy independence from the rest of the fast-unraveling world, we can then begin the tedious and unwanted process of importing safe drinking water to the Marcellus Shale region.

Oh, yeah. And we can finally rename the Susquehanna River.

It's a stupid and antiquated name anyway. Inspired by the likes of that murderous Chief Muckamucka and his long ago vanquished Indian nation--The Muckoquoi.

To hell with all of that ancient history, who massacred who and where. And who massacred who and where as a measure of revenge. And who then massacred who and where once the American Revolution was en vogue.

Why not just relent, why not just admit the inevitable and call the river the Frackahanna River forever more? Why not write the new tales of those (these) long ago pioneering days, when Chief Frackamucka and his entire warring Encana Nation (week-kneed politicos) rode into the area and laid waste to all that dared to stand before them, be they man, beast, or nature.

Don't much matter to me. I ain't hugged any trees while sober.

Fracking fluids or no fracking fluids, I'm still looking forward to FrackFest 2010.

Hopefully, I'll see you out there on the Frackahanna.

Ramming speed, captain!

Later

Monday, April 12, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand, uh, darts?

When we, the people who write on the local Internet got together at Rooney's some days back, I was initially irritated by the presence of so many self-serving politicos and those paid by those politicos to spread their usual bullspit.

Which is not to say that I did not have a good time. After I accepted the mass gathering for what it was, and after I got past the fact that Gort (probably) told those newspaper reporters that I was quote/unquote "The Blogfather," I chilled out and did my level best to get along.

But the proof of my initial annoyance is the fact that I did not take a single picture that night. Not a one. And if you know me at all, you know that's really saying something. I take pictures like most people gobble prescription opiates.

Anyway, as evidenced by Facebook, all of my fellow bloggers did in fact take pictures that night. Plenty of pictures. And after seeing the best and worst of what was captured that night, this one picture probably captured the faces behind the many Web sites as well as any.

I'm assuming that this picture was taken by Michelle's husband, and I have no interest at all in bothering to confirm that.

Captured in that picture is an eclectic and diverse mix of odd people, who all have one thing in common. No matter their political leanings, no matter their ideologies and no matter what political or personal fallout may have come their way as a result of their relentless and tireless Internet forays, they did have the ball bearings necessary to go where most dare not go...into the public arena.

At the very least, if you copy this picture, blow it up 1oo times it's original size and attach it to your dartboard, you'll be the life of the party at any of the indicted politico's homes. That is, right up until they are sentenced.

And feel free to use that Atlanta Braves cap as the bulls eye.

I'm kind of used to it.

Later

Oblahblah is dangerously naive

When a U.S. president endeavors to sign treaties with our, ahem, enemies, that would reduce the overall number of deployed nuclear weapons, as well as suspend the upgrading of our nuclear weapons technology itself, that’s a big deal. If that’s not newsworthy, then nothing is.

Yet, even after Oblahblah did such a thing by signing a non-proliferation agreement with the Russians, the world’s second-most nuclear weapons power, the local blogosphere has been strangely quiet about it.

Locally, I expected the lefties that dominate this blogging market to be heralding this agreement as the best thing since sliced Tofu. Yet, there was nothing. Not a single reference was made of it. And I’m wondering why?

What, did that malformed health care bill, that boondoggle in the making fill many with the trepidation that should have followed that obvious mistake? And does Oblahblah approaching the Russians from a position of weakness unnerve some, or most of you? It's getting to the point that the deafening silence is almost tantamount to a vote of "no confidence."

And how about that maddening illogic about how we’d retaliate if attacked with chemical or biological weapons on our own soil?

If the aggressor state is compliant with all U.N.-mandated nuclear non-proliferation requirements, we promise not to retaliate with nuclear weapons. Oh, but if that aggressor nation is not compliant, then all bets are off.

Doe anybody follow that complete and utter illogic?

If you sucker punch me in the eye with a roll of dimes clenched in your fist, I might not go apesh*t on your ass. Probably not. Oh, but if you pop me in the eye with a roll of quarters contained therewith, I will bring everything I have.

Make any sense?

The thing I found infuriating about this agreement that could still be rejected by our legislators is the fact that Oblahblah--the former community organizer--wants to reduce each facet of the Triad principle equally.

The Triad is the deployment of nuclear weapons on land, in the air and under the sea. As in, silo-based ICBMs here in the states, nuclear-armed B-52s and other heavy aerial platforms in the air at a moments notice, and submarine-based ICBMs as well.

And more than anything at our disposal, what the Russians fear the most is the missile boats lurking somewhere fathoms deep in the oceans of the world. Yes, they run silent as well as deep. And defensively speaking, you cannot defend against something you can not account for. Er, cannot find.

Yet, our know-it-all community organizer thinks nothing of seriously reducing our underwater component of the Triad nuclear defense. Or more rightly put, our most feared offensive nuclear component.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: it can’t happen here. Yeah, well tell that to the relatives of those people that snuffed it when those two skyscrapers collapsed in NYC nine years ago.

But take note of the fact that while Oblahblah is handing the Russians an unexpected gift on a bent knee, meanwhile, the Russians have done absolutely nothing to forestall the burgeoning nuclear weapons programs in both Iran and North Korea.

As a matter of fact, not only have the Russians fought against any U.N. sanctions being levied against those two rogue nations, they have offered technical assistance in the development of both of those countries nuclear weapons programs. What they seek is further nuclear proliferation as a way of further destabilizing things for the “West.”

So, for me, it’s obvious that Barack Oblahblah is in over his swelled head.

And as a defecting Soviet KGB agent said to his CIA handlers some years ago, “You can trust to Soviets to do exactly as they say,” i.e., slowly but surely crush the U.S.

And the recent actions of the Russian leadership suggests that nothing has changed. All that’s changed is that we have a supremely naïve man remaking our nuclear policies.

During my formative years in Connecticut, home to the world’s largest nuclear submarine base, as part of our Boy Scouts training we were taught what to do in the event that a mushroom cloud should suddenly appear on the horizon…duck and cover.

And then run home, cover the basement windows with soil, and then retreat to the basement with canned goods, all the water you could carry, all the medical supplies at your disposal, a flashlight, a transister radio and hopefully, an endless supply of batteries.

And now, all these years later, I have a naïve president that thinks “duck and cover” is an outdated concept, simply because he thinks it can’t happen here.

Iodine pills, anyone?

Later

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another 15 minutes of fame

So, the long-awaited (for some) Times Leader story about the local blogosphere finally hit the newsstands. Front page, below the fold. Not bad. Not bad for a ragtag tribe of political junkies who can type and spell somewhat proficiently. Somewhat.

Getting the message across by the minute

The excerpt: PITTSTON – He’s known among his peers as “The Blogfather.”

Mark Cour’s blog – Circumlocution for Dummies – began in 2000 when he became disenchanted with the condition of Wilkes-Barre City and wanted to get some things off his chest. He said he wrote letters to editors of the local papers, but they often weren’t published due to their length.


The freaking "blogfather!" Argh! He just had to start with that, didn't he?

Gort, I know that moniker was affectionately penned, but it makes it sound as if I regularly run with some of Valenti's boys. It's as if so many of those upstart bloggers vanished so quickly over these many years after I made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

For the record, I have never decapitated a single horse. But I will admit that the thought of doing such a thing intrigues me.

This is by no means my first go-round with being written about by the paid local scribes, and hopefully this will be my last such assault on an unknowing public. Imagine waking up on a sunny Sunday morning only to find my ugly mug in the morning paper. Actually, those pictures of the lot of us looked like mug shots to a great degree. And rightfully so, I suppose.

As for being "unmasked," I do take exception to that angle, considering that when I first started writing on the Internet back before most people even had access to it, I was the exception to the blogging rule about anonymity in that my name was prominently displayed on my site. That was my way of letting the local politicos and their staunch supporters know that intimidation tactics ought not be misspent on me. Still, some of them tried. Oh, did some of them try.

I know the article focused on the bloggers who religiously cover local politics, but I admit to being somewhat disappointed that some of the newer writers were not included, as well as that brilliant mind blogging out of Nanticoke--Another Monkey.

This guy, D.B. Harold, can bore me to no end with his posts about stained glass windows and his rose bushes and his hundred or so kittens. But when he does decide to delve into local issues, his take on things is usually spot-on.

Another local political writer I would have liked to see included is Tom Borthwick, who is relatively new at this muckraking stuff. But what he lacks in experience he surely makes up for with intelligence and sometimes, aggressiveness.

Then we have Stephen Albert, who was also in attendance at the big blogger soiree at Rooney's Irish Pub in Pittston. While he's not limited to writing about politics, there is no doubt that he is as sharp as a carpet tack.

And while we're tossing superlatives and accolades at practically everyone, it should be noted that, in my opinion, the overall quality of the writing in the local blogosphere has never been better than it is right now.

Not too long ago, the local blogging scene was a veritable Sargasso Sea of intellectual misfits, the grossly ill-informed and the hilariously ill-equipped. And the most frustrating part for me was, all of the name-calling, the blatant, sometimes intentional inaccuracies and the incendiary vitriol was posted by those desperately clinging to their anonymity. Cowards, I tended to call them. Cowards who were quickly and rightly dispatched to the Internet graveyard, wherever it is.

Anyway, the event at Rooney's was fun, and I got yet another fifteen minutes of fame for having attended. But I still maintain that the attendance of so many politicians and those selling their brands should not cloud our vision, nor give us any delusional visions of self-importance.

For the most part, those people were there to use us as a means to an electoral end.

Now let's get back to making them earn our votes. Let us continue to hold them accountable for their actions as well as their words.

Sez me.

Markie in Nord End

Buh-bye

P.E.T.A. (People For the Untimely Death of Humans)

Every year the Irem Shrine Circus makes an appearance at the Kingston armory. And every year, a handful of protestors appear and make not much noise about how circus animals are abused and the like.

Excuse me whilst I yawn.

It’s the same thing year-in and year-out. You get the P.E.T.A. types, plus a few locals standing there with their poorly crafted signs, while thousands of wide-eyed kids are treated to the visiting circus, animals and all.

Generally, I have a very low tolerance for these sorts of protests, simply because it seems kind of redundant to be “increasing awareness” of an issue that’s basically old news. Really old.

Yes, the circus is in town with “wild” animals in tow. And, yes, we know, a half dozen or so girls will appear and make us aware of the fact that they don’t like it. Yes, we know. We got it. We got the message years ago. Now, go find something productive to do, will you?

Grow a Chia Pet or something.

But this year, that front page Times Leader photo of the two protesting girls holding up signs reading “Trainer just killed by elephant” really put me off my tuna hoagie and beer breakfast. My immediate thought was, I’ll bet they were happy.

And after scrolling through the reader’s comments attached to a follow up story about the trainer’s untimely death, I found the following…

Janet Weeks said...
If you zoom in on the photo, you will see the bull hook being used as a visual cue of intimidation. Also, the elephant wears "decorated" leg irons, also as a reminder that he is a slave, in bondage, and helpless. I am glad this elephant took revenge on that trainer. Wild animals are wild and they do not belong in captivity. The trainer got what he deserved and I hope he's happy in hell.
April 10, 2010 at 1:21 AM


Nice.

So I was correct. Some people really are happy that the elephant went and killed her longtime trainer. Insensitive? Overzealous? Or just plain hateful? You make the call.

And then, I found this…

Circus fatal blamed on wire sparks

Anderton cared very much for Dumbo, Richards said, noting the pair had a strong relationship.

“They lived together for the last 15 years. Before that they worked together for five years. It was a very close family relationship as far as the animal was concerned,” Richards said.


Anderton had sleeping quarters on his truck, but instead would take an air mattress and sleeping bag to sleep on the floor near Dumbo each night, said Richards.

Now, if I was one of those protestors, this is the part where I’d start feeling really, really stupid. But, as is usually the case with these sorts of folks, I doubt that anything could deter them from their life’s work, whatever the hell it is.

Hey, that reminds me, the Ringling Brothers crew should be here in about 8 weeks unloading the yearly parade of elephants right behind this modest adobe.

I can’t wait.

Later

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kanjo is out of it

What's up with Congressman Paul Kanjorski?

Is he too old, or too completely stupid?

I mean, did he ever have an idea backed by federal funds that actually panned out? Well, he did land the 10 million or so for his failed water-jet technology industry-in-the-making, but that "industry" was limited to his immediate family until the federal funds dried up.

From the Citizens' Voice:

W-B could host energy institute

THe excerpt: U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski's vision for the future of natural gas drilling along the Marcellus Shale centers on a proposed energy institute in Wilkes-Barre - a national laboratory where scientific, economic and environmental research would shape public policy and a cohesive master plan.

Kanjorski shared details of his proposal during an interview Friday with The Citizens' Voice editorial board. He said he would present the plan to President Barack Obama - whose approval could direct millions of federal dollars to fund the institute - at a White House meeting on April 19.

Vice President Joe Biden has already expressed his support, Kanjorski said. The White House media affairs office did not return telephone and e-mail messages Friday night asking for confirmation of the meeting and Biden's position on the institute.


Can you say..."jackass?"

An institute? Is he off his rocker?

The EPA, the DER and Joe Biden have no idea what the status of the requested drilling permits in Lake Township are. Oh, but, after Uncle Paul and that dimwit, Barack Oblahblah collate, well, then the institute will be developed by Kanjorski's unemployable relatives long after the drilling permits were issued. Long after the fracking. And long after the wells in the area were reduced to providing YouTube posts featuring solar flares coming from sink-mounted spigots.

It's interesting that Kanjo thinks he can somehow benefit (politically) from unregulated natural gas drilling making sophistry of the landscape and ultimately, the water supply, while Chris Carney makes nary a mention of the contamination going on in his own backyard in Dimock Township.

Carney sees no evil, hears no evil, and Kanjorski speaks no evil, unless federal funding becomes unavailable for his needy family.

They represent neither you nor I on this issue. They care not for the very specific language of the constitution of our state, nor for the safety of our pottable water supply going forward. No, what they care about is their political fortunes, emphasis on fortunes.

A national laboratory?

Bend over, kiss both your ass and your safe drinking water goodbye.

Sez me.

Later

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Feds raid Musto

Apparently, Sen. Raphael Musto is just full of surprises.

First, from out of left field came his surprise announcement that he would not seek another term in the State Senate. And now, from the Times Leader Web site, this...

Federal investigators searching Sen. Musto's home

The excerpt: PITTSTON TWP. - Federal investigators are searching Sen. Raphael Musto's Pittston Township home.

Sen. Musto, D-Pittston Township, confirmed the investigators are at his residence on Market Street, but he did not know what they were looking for.

"They showed me the search warrant and said they were here to search my home," Musto said. "I really don't know much about it; it just happened. They just showed me the papers and came in."

As investigators were walking through his house, Musto said he is not concerned about the search.

Hell! He sounds about as surprised as we are.

Stay tuned.

To be perfectly honest, I did not expect a lot of fireworks coming from either John Yudichak or Tom Leighton as they seek to replace Senator Musto. They both have records with which they could run on, and that's about all that I expected them to run on.

But this ridiculous attempt by Yudichak to tie Leighton to the ongoing corruption scandal by questioning Tom Leighton's association with Bill Brace is really lowbrow. And, further, to demand an explanation from Tom Leighton is downright accusatory in nature.

I would have to ask Yudichak is he ever had a friend or friends who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. I know I have. And one of them put a shotgun to his head rather than rot away in a prison cell. And I would also have to ask Yudichak if that friendship came to an abrupt halt because of the legal trouble of his friends, associates or relatives.

And much has been made of late on WILK of Tom Leighton and Bill Brace having been seen seated together at the recent Friendly Son's dinner.

I talked to a certain mayor today, and even though I know he thought that conversation to be totally off the record, he said to me, "I'm not a fair weather friend."

Those are words I can respect. And Yudichak's inflammatory attempt to hang Bill Brace around Tom Leighton's neck is not something that commands respect. At least, not in my opinion.

Brace copped to a crime. Now he has to do some time. Although, not nearly enough, again, in my opinion. And that has nothing to do with Tom Leighton.

But I do have one more question for Yudichak. Yo, John, have you ever served with anyone who was indicted, convicted, or who served time in a correctional facility? Anyone? Anyone from the State House or Senate been convicted lately?

Really? I await your explanation.

Later

Editor's note: Despite the obfuscation and borderline prevarication being bandied about, Bill Brace never served as a member of Tom Leighton's administration.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kanjo's people poll O'Brien's people?

This is a hoot, direct from the email inbox:

The first rule of polling is “make sure the pollster doesn’t call your opponent’s house.” To that rule I would add “…especially when the campaign manager is sitting next to the phone.”

But last week, Team Kanjo broke this rule, and in doing so, revealed just how low he will sink in his desperate attempt to keep his seat. Not only did the poll seek to find ways of tearing down Corey O’Brien, it also tested just how angry voters are with Paul Kanjorski.

The set of questions written by Kanjorski’s own team says it all. The pollster asked “if any of the following would be a reason not to vote for someone”:

1. Paul Kanjorski is a professional politician.

2. Paul Kanjorski has voted for pay raise after pay raise after pay raise, while we struggle with unemployment and stagnant job creation.

3. Eleven Democrats, including Paul Kanjorski, voted against the stimulus package. Now Paul Kanjorski is trying to take credit for its success.

4. Paul Kanjorski was the architect of the bailout and defends the bailout. (Campaign manager’s note to pollster -- you should also ask whether taking campaign contributions from bailed out banks only two weeks after the multi-billion dollar bailout would be a reason “not to vote for someone”).

5. Paul Kanjorski was named by a journalist as a corrupt Member of Congress because he funneled $10 million to his daughter and son-in-law’s company, Cornerstone.Team Kanjo: In case the answer wasn’t clear from your poll, please stay tuned for May 18th.

Stop Twisting the Truth

Perhaps a telling omen of what Kanjorski’s smear machine will look like, the pollster also made a series of misleading, negative attacks on Corey O’Brien:

The fact that Corey and his wife have debt was twisted into “a lack of fiscal discipline,” even though the debt is from student loans for law school, Corey’s wife’s small business, and child care expenses.

Corey’s career as a community banking attorney became “representing Wall Street” (those are your donors, Congressman).

Old-Style Politics v. New Style Leadership

The consistent theme throughout this campaign has been the need to replace old-style politics with new style leadership. Last week, that old-style politics was out in full force - but it stops here. Corey O’Brien has been proud to announce new and exciting initiatives like Project Main Street for the future of our region, and will continue to provide this type of new style leadership as your next Congressman. Support Corey O’Brien today.

Justin F. Carroll
Campaign Manager
Corey O’Brien for Congress

No tolls on 80

Breaking news from PennLive.com...

Federal government rejects state's application to toll Interstate 80, sources say

The excerpt: The U.S. Department of Transportation has rejected Pennsylvania's plan to toll Interstate 80, according to two sources with knowledge of the application. For months, the Federal Highway Administration has been poring over Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposal to remake I-80’s 311-mile, east-west track into a northern sister to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Sources say Rendell is expected to be notified of the decision today or tomorrow. They said the application will be rejected because it would violate language in a federal transportation law that would require money from I-80 tolls to be used only for that roadway.

There goes the budget...up in smoke.

You'd think these people would have trimmed things, balanced things, adopted austerity-type moves and whatnot. But instead, our elected leaders have continued to spend at profligate levels while all the while seeking out new revenues streams wherever they could find them.

Unfortunately, this potentially new revenue stream ain't happening.

In the long run, this is probably a good development for NEPA, because commercial vehicles are tolled by the number of axles. And trust me, it gets prohibitively expensive for the trucking firms in a big, big hurry. Oh, yeah, an added expense that gets passed along to all of us.

And if we're ever going to start filling our industrial parks again, we don't need that added expense making NEPA an unattractive target for warehouses and distribution centers.

Obviously, this is still developing, so expect Fast Ed's comments soon.

Bye

Monday, April 5, 2010

Closure watch

This one is fast developing.

From today's Times Leader:

Forensic specialist called to examine skeletal remains
Edward Lewis elewis@timesleader.com


WILKES-BARRE - A forensic anthropologist will be called into to assist in the examination of skeletal remains found in a wooded area near Roaring Brook Drive in Hunlock Township, Luzerne County Coroner John Corcoran said on Monday.


Corcoran said forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross conducted a preliminary examination of the skeletal remains at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital Monday afternoon.


Corcoran said information about the preliminary examination is not being released until a forensic anthropologist, a bone specialist, inspects the skeletal remains.


State police at Shickshinny said the skeletal remains were discovered down an embankment off Roaring Brook Road late Friday afternoon by two men riding ATVs in the area.


Corcoran said many bones were collected from the location used as an illegal dumping ground.
State police Lt. Richard Krawetz, criminal unit supervisor, said the investigation is continuing.

What are the odds that best friends would both go missing? And what are the odds that one person would be the last to see both of them alive?

Follow these links and read the sites before you proceed any further.


Phylicia

Jennifer

Interesting circle of friends, Steve Martin, Hugo Selenski and last but not least, Ed Rudalski, Phylicia's live-in boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.

And consider that, just before going missing, Phylicia had told her mother, Pauline Bailey, that she knew where Jennifer was buried, that she was buried in Martin's basement, an assertion that Bailey scoffed at.

And also consider that the neighbor's accounts given to the State Police on the night of Phylicia's troubling disappearance cast serious doubts on her boyfriend's testimony, as well as Steve Martin's testimony.

This one would have fallen below the radar for me a long time ago, except for the fact that I met Phylicia while she was working at the Pump 'n' Pantry on Route 118. And she seemed to be a happy-go-lucky, cute, smiley kid. Plus the fact that something smelled rotten on this one right from the word start.

I'm hoping to hear the word "closure" any day now.

Sad, but there it is.

Bye