Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Friday, December 31, 2010

No mo' Nord End trains

Merry Christmas from...

...The Train Shoppe, North Penn Ave., Wilkes-Barre.

Zachary, Jeremy, Avery and I went walking about with visions of die-caste cars ruminating as the eventual fruits of our miniscule labors. Instead, we learned that yet another Nord End mainstay has gone by the wayside.

Like the Woodlawn Dairy, Jack Knelly's grocery and Marlino's Pharmacy before it, what we all once knew and loved were eventually plowed under by the big box stores.

See y'all at Sprawl-Mart.

Later, much later

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Press release: Marino appointments

Rep.-Elect Tom Marino
10TH District of Pennsylvania
Renita Fennick 570-239-8851 Dec. 21, 2010

WILLIAMSPORT -- U.S. Rep.-Elect Tom Marino has announced the appointment of the four individuals who will fill his top congressional staff positions.

The appointments are effective Jan. 3 and will ensure the freshman congressman "hits the ground running" when the 112th Congress is sworn into office on Jan. 5, Marino said.

Lackawanna County natives Bill Tighe and David Weber will head Marino’s Washington and district operations, respectively. Tighe, formerly of Newton Township, was named chief of staff while Weber, who had served as Marino’s campaign manager, was appointed district director.
Drew Kent of Arlington, Va., was tabbed as legislative director, and Renita Fennick, Wilkes-Barre Township, will serve as Marino’s communications director.

"This is a solid team with a lot of energy and a good synergy," Marino said. "I have the utmost confidence in each one of them and also am certain they have the skills and mindset to work together as a team.

"Most importantly, each of them knows that our mission is to serve the constituents of the 10th District," Marino said. "The four of them share my sentiment -- and that is, that we must never forget who we are and why the good people of Pennsylvania sent us to Washington in the first place. We will work together with our varied backgrounds and experiences to make sure the voices of the people in the 10th District are heard in D.C."


As chief of staff, Tighe, of Burke, Va., will oversee Marino’s Washington, D.C., and 10th District operations and personnel. Tighe is currently serving as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 6th District, and also worked for former Congressman George W. Gekas. Tighe will focus on leadership and overall management responsibilities including policy analysis, strategic planning, budgeting and development of communications and outreach strategies.

He is a graduate of Bucknell University with a bachelor of arts degree in international relations with a concentration in European affairs and is expected to earn a master’s degree in public policy in 2011 from George Mason University. He and his wife Erica have three sons. Tighe is the son of Bill and Nancy Tighe, Newton Township.

"This is a dream of mine, to be able to work for my hometown district, for people who are friends and family," Tighe said.

Weber, 29, of Clarks Green, will serve as district director and will oversee the staffing and operation of all constituent service centers throughout the 10th District. Locations for the district offices have not been determined though Weber said he expects announcements to be made before Marino takes office. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Weber has been active as a political consultant in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Kent, 30, of Arlington, Va., earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston College and a juris doctorate from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University. He previously served as legislative director for J.C. White Consulting, Washington, D.C., and worked on the staff of U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. He and his wife Laura have an infant daughter.

As legislative director, Kent will manage the congressman’s legislative priorities and staff, advise him on all legislative issues, House floor procedures and will implement the legislative goals of Marino on both the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. Marino learned last week that he was assigned to the two key committees.

Fennick, 50, is the current executive director of the Luzerne County Republican Party and will leave that position on Dec. 31. A longtime journalist, she is a graduate of King’s College with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications. She has two children, Ken, 25, and Chrissy, 22. She will work out of the district and will coordinate the communications outreach to the constituents and the media.

"I am excited to see my staff take shape and am confident that we will hit the ground running when I take office on Jan. 5," Marino said.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Food for thought

Since I made the switch to this Blogger platform, I've gotten fewer and fewer emails as the chosen vehicle for feedback. In actuality, it was mostly blow back, something I was always very proud of--offending the easily-offended.

Anyway, I chose to publish the following email only because I see it as a starting point. As in, a starting point for some exhaustive research. And if there was one thing I was always good at, it was doing my homework.

Could Wilkes-Barre actually go the way of a mostly part-time fire department? I dunno.

What I do know is, the larger of our neighboring communities have mostly part-time fire departments. And those neighbors of ours also contract out for ambulance service. And they don't have unionized employees trying to fleece them at every turn. Perhaps the taxpayers could use a bit of, ahem, "parity."

So here's that email that got my mind working, that food for thought:

hello Mark; your posting have been less lately, but like always you hit the nail on the head.

Wilkes Barre City needs help! Kingston works very well with a combination of Full time and part-time Fire fighters. Plains Twp works well with full time, part time and works with volunteer companies., Nanticoke and Edwardsville do too. the real answer is a county Fire Dept.......but politics will never let that happen.

Wilkes Barre City Ambulance has been using Part Time Medics for years.
Think of the savings in pension fund contributions. except for the top (Chief) Medics that take a lot of over time.

The time has come to Wilkes-Barre City Fire Dept. to open the door to part time firemen. There are many highly trained people available.
The fore Department needs to realize that regrettably Wilkes-Barre City is Broke!

Pensions are crippling the City....the same quality Ambulance Service could be provided by Tans-med ambulance or Northeast Ambulance service for a fraction of what it cost Wilkes Barre. Both are partial owned by current or retired W-B City Medics. Top pay $34,000.00
a year. No pension or health care. By the way when The City medics are busy.......Guess who provides Ambulance Service.

Law enforcement and The Fire/ Ambulance service are like night and Day. 13 firemen responding on a shift.......there are times when there are only 8 cops on the street....( How many guns encountered just this year??).....there may be more on duty but only eight on the street.

Tough decisions are going to have to be made..................Past mistakes are killing the City. there will be no Bail-out. It is sink or swim time. Maybe more services should be privatized.

As always I enjoy your post..........

Thanks, man.

Let the research begin.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Birthday or: Taxpayers? Fu>k the taxpayers!

I cannot remember a time when the WBFD was not at odds with the administrations of this city.

Then again, I really didn’t pay much attention to the goings-on in Wilkes-Barre until the wheels started falling off some 12 years ago. But once I did start paying way too much attention to what makes a third class city (mis) tick, I was basically appalled bordering on stupefied.

You know things are going nowhere fast when your company offers to shut down it’s operations for an entire day, devote it’s entire staff to cleaning all of Kirby Park in advance of the 4th of July only to be told that while that undertaking would be greatly appreciated by all involved, it would violate the contract of city workers.

But with the distinct possibility of some bad public relations coming about, a command decision was made, the park was cleaned and the union involved did not file a grievance after all.

I came away from that experience believing that if what you’re seeking is bona fide progress even in incrementally small steps, you ought not let any public union get wind of it. Did you ever wonder why the prisoners from Chase regularly clean the roadsides of our neighboring communities, but not ours? Because there’s a clause in a contract that forbids it.

The following Times Leader article suggests to me that the administration of this city and the unionized firefighters are on a collision course. And when these two immovable objects finally collide, one way or another, the losers will be the residents of this city.

W-B, firefighters exchange heated words

WILKES-BARRE – While the city awaits the binding decision of arbitrators on a new firefighters’ contract, Mayor Tom Leighton is openly critical of the union’s demands, which he says are too expensive and unreasonable.

With demands such as lifetime health benefits for spouses, birthdays off and residency outside the city on the table, Leighton openly talks of the possibility – maybe within five years – of a public referendum on the paid fire department.

“I think it’s premature to talk about that right now,” Leighton said. “But it would be for the voters to decide if there should be a referendum.”

Was that a warning shot? A volunteer fire department in Wilkes-Barre? Is that really a possibility in the foreseeable future? Yikes!

Surround and drown, boys.

The following excerpt clearly suggests that the administration is waging a PR battle that will not bode well for the firefighters. With practically everyone worried about a stagnant economy and a bleak job outlook (CV 12/18/2010-less than 20 job opportunities in the classifieds), the publishing of the salaries will not evoke any sympathies from the residents of this city.

According to Christine Jensen, city director of human resources, the average salaries – including overtime and other pay differentials – of firefighters for 2009 were:

• Five assistant fire chiefs, $80,479.
• 13 fire captains, $68, 066.
• 48 firefighters, $62,887.

Jensen noted the city hired six new firefighters in 2010, bringing the department roster to 72 full- timers. She said the average base salary for firefighters is $51,116, which means in 2009, the 48 firefighters averaged nearly $12,000 each in overtime and other benefits, excluding health care. The average sick time used per firefighter is seven days a year, Jensen said.

Okay, it’s official. Our firefighters are well compensated. Still, to hear the union honcho tell the never-ending tale, they are being screwed, glued and tattooed every which way. But now that the average newspaper-reading resident realizes how much they actually earn, those previously unenlightened residents will likely be more receptive to the mayor’s arguments.

When I started writing in this electronic forum in very late 1999, the then-mayor and the fire department were at odds over just about every conceivable issue. Now here we are some 11 years later, and the current mayor and the fire department are at odds over just about every conceivable issue. Seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

But what isn’t the same is the financial situation of the city, county, state and Fedrule Govmint. I think saying that we’re flat broke neatly sums it up.

And when grown men up and demand to be paid to celebrate their birthdays in this worrisome economic climate, they will surely lose the PR battle that is apparently well underway.

Good luck with that one.

I think I'll run that birthday gambit past my boss and see how he reacts. I figure he could probably use a good laugh.


P.S.--Because of random drug testing and DUI laws, the City of Wilkes-Barre is currently hiring Class B CDL drivers.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

PA DEP to Wilkes-Barre: Spend $100 million or else

If you think that government at all levels has not overstepped it’s authority, consider that cities are now determining restaurant menus.

That said, municipalities are trying to take the happy--the toy--out of the Happy Meal. Hey, if a bunch of philandering drunkards in Washington D.C. can set the menu at our local schools, why can’t our own City Council ban the use of unsaturated fats here in Wilkes-Barre?

The Government knows what it’s doing. Right?

You can’t eat what you want, you can’t smoke in public, they can outlaw specific breeds of dogs and you can’t take a dip in the fountain on Public Square when the Mercury goes ballistic. Basically, your government has gotten in the habit of telling you what (not) to do and when (not) to do it. And like the good little sheep that you are, you grouse for an instant and then blindly obey.

Freedom? We’re free? With all of this regulatory overreach going on?

But with our outstanding debts mushrooming while our economy flat lines, unfunded mandates from the Fedrule Govmint and it’s willing cohorts at the state level have the potential to bankrupt more localized municipalities near and far. And one in particular needs to be fought against to the bitter end.

At the EPA’s behest, the PA DEP is mandating that Wilkes-Barre as well as other smallish communities comply with the Clean Water Act/Clean Streams Act gone totally berserk. This is government-mandated environmentalism, in lieu of funding, gone completely berserk.

In a nutshell, hundreds of Pennsylvania communities are being forced to make multimillion dollar upgrades to storm water systems. The DEP wants massive upgrades to existing storm water drainage permits for 942 Pennsylvania municipalities to include filters in catch basins and additional basin maintenance. Required upgrades include installing filters in catch bays and basins - no matter how large or small - and cleaning those basins after storms.

The mandates were scheduled to be the law of the land earlier this year, but many Pennsylvania communities banded together in storm water coalitions to force some common sense upon the PA DEP.

“Improvement plans” were be sent to the state by September 10, 2010, but the efforts of the many storm water coalitions have pushed the soft date for implementation and compliance back to a yet undetermined date in 2012.

Let’s make this a bit more local.

First we--Wilkes-Barre--would be forced to install drainage gate filters on all of the city’s 3,700 catch basins. And then after a quote/unquote “storm,” city employees would be required to remove and clean each of the 3,700 filters.

At a recent meeting with the Wyoming Valley Sewer Authority, it was suggested to Wilkes-Barre City officials that the city begin to install disconnect chambers which would separate the storm water runoff from the sewer system, which would make combined sewage outflow discharges of raw sewage into the Susquehanna River a thing of the past.

But there’s one little problem with Wilkes-Barre taking baby steps down that road to full environmental compliance. As it was told to me by a high-ranking city official, it would cost the city in excess of $100 million dollars to make the city compliant with all aspects of this unfunded mandate from on high. And with finances being what they are, the City of Wilkes-Barre will not be floating a $1 million bond any time soon.

In addition, before full compliance is reached, the city would be forced to paint the asphalt at every one of those 3,700 storm sewers with a warning, a “this drains to” medallion. As in, this catch basin/catch bay/storm sewer leads directly to the river.

And if that’s not bizarre enough, suppose you decide to wash your car in the vicinity of a catch basin that has not yet had the drainage filters installed. Well, in that event you would be required to contain the run-off much like a hauler would be had an accident caused the spillage of dangerous chemicals or pesticides onto a roadway.

I’m well-schooled in spill containment: Call the authorities, contain the spill, then start the exhaustive clean-up. Does that sound like the proper protocol for the simple washing of one’s automobile?

In July, William Rathburn, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that John Hines, deputy secretary for water management, said the state will hold off on implementing the new rules.

Again, according to that aforementioned high-ranking city official, the “soft date” for implementation and full compliance has been pushed back to 2012.

Meanwhile, neither the EPA or the DEP has a problem with millions upon millions of gallons of proprietary fracking fluids being pumped into our water tables. So municipalities will be forced into economic insolvency to protect our water and our streams, but the gas drilling companies can pollute our water and our streams with point-source impunity?

Now give me that argument again about how Big & Bigger Government equals good governing. C’mon, give it to me again so I can chortle at your expense.


We regret to inform you...

I’ll admit my disappointment after learning that Renita Fennick, our executive director of the Luzerne County Republican Committee, has decided to join the staff of congressman-elect Tom Marino.

The thing is, ever since the local money men and the behind-the-scenes Republican honchos put her in that position, Luzerne County has felt like a competitive two-party county. And as we all know by now, a one-party county leads to graft, corruption and tone deafness on the part of the party with the unflinching stranglehold on power.

I’m sure she’ll be replaced, but I‘m hoping that her replacement will be as dedicated, energetic, outgoing and as easily approachable as she was.

From the Coughlin High bowling league all the way to Congress. Who could have thunk it?

Okay, so minority commish Steve Urban has decided to jump ship by becoming a Democrat. And as could be predicted, many from within the ranks of the local Republicans are crying foul, with the big Republican committee going as far as demanding that he resign his position.

While Urban cites legal precedent that he can serve as the “minority” commissioner along with the two other Democrats, it doesn’t smell right when you vote for a Republican and get a Democrat after the electoral dust settles. It just doesn’t.

While he claims this move was prompted by a lack of support from the local Republican power brokers, personally, I am not buying that. I see this as more of a triangulation going forward, rather than anything in the rear-view mirror. He’s positioning himself for a run at yet another elected office before Home Rule takes effect on January 2, 2012.

Off the top of my pointy little head, I’d say he fancies himself as the mayor of Wilkes-Barre.

Speaking of Wilkes-Barre, there's a lot of noise being made on the Internet, both pro and con, about this $1 million award going to the city's firefighters. This is an expense the city can ill-afford during this protracted economic malaise. This is the way I see it.

In short, we are still paying very dearly for the gross mismanagement of the city's prior administration. Both our police officers as well as our firefighters will now receive generous stipends for NOT servicing our parking meters. Meanwhile, we created 3 new employees to replace the one man who once-upon-a-time serviced the meters. Make any sense?

All I can tell you is, our former mayor hailed this move as an enhancement of public safety. You're paying for it, you figure it out. The illogic, I mean.

And yet, very, very many of you wondered aloud as to why I was railing against that woebegone administration.

We regret to inform you…

Dear Marc,

On behalf of PCT magazine I want to congratulate you for being named a finalist for the 2010 PCT Technician of the Year Awards.

During the past 30 days our panel of judges evaluated this year’s nominees. For this year’s competition a total of 19 finalists were chosen (8 commercial, 8 residential and 3 termite) out of the hundreds of nominations we received. So as you can see, by being chosen a finalist you are a member of an elite group.

This year’s PCT Technicians of the Year are:

Commercial: Jim Bailey, Orkin, Columbus, OH
Residential: Mariano Acosta, Arrow, Lynbrook, NY
Termite: Todd Walker, B&B Exterminating, Jacksonville, FL

Once again congratulations on being named a finalist. You are to be commended for your hard work and dedication to our industry.

Best regards,

Brad Harbison
Managing editor & Internet editor
PCT Magazine & PCT Online

Oh, well, it was soooo close. Although, considering this competition was industry wide, I’ll take a top 3 finish.

By the way, PCT is Pest Control Technology, my industry’s bible.


GOP press releases

These are the recent Luzerne County GOP press releases as they came across the electronic wire.


Dec. 17, 2010

WILKES-BARRE -- Luzerne County Republican Executive Committee is asking Stephen A. Urban to resign his position as county commissioner “to preserve the checks and balances” guaranteed through the county code.

Republican County Chairman Terry Casey said the request was not a personal jab against Urban, who announced earlier this week that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

“We want to make sure that the efforts of all registered Republicans and especially those who worked on Steve Urban campaigns and donated money to him do not go unnoticed,” Casey said.

“These volunteers and voters put their faith in Steve that he would work on their behalf and represent their interests as a minority,” Casey said. “Having no minority representation in county government is a danger to us especially in light of the corruption that has come to light in the wake of one-party rule.”

Casey said the county organization is investigating every opportunity and legal course of action but hopes it will not come to that.

“I am disappointed in Steve’s actions and would hope that he would consider stepping down,” Casey said. “Steve has always filled his role as the minority voice in county government and he has the opportunity to continue his legacy by gracefully resigning and allowing a Republican to fill his unexpired term.”


U.S. Rep.-Elect Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, has landed positions on two key congressional committees.

Marino was notified Wednesday that he will join the U.S. House Homeland Security and Judiciary committees when the 112th Congress convenes next month.

U.S. Rep. Pete King of New York will chair the Committee on Homeland Security which oversees the Department of Homeland Security operations. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

Marino said he is pleased and honored to be selected to two committees that are close to his heart and mirror his experience.

“I don’t think there is anything more important than to serve on a committee that is dedicated to protecting our people and our land,” Marino said. “Our focus not only will be to prevent terrorist attacks but to eliminate the terrorists.”

The newly elected congressman from the 10th District believes his legal background, including his prosecutorial work, makes him an ideal match for the Judiciary Committee.

“My 18 years of experience will help me with this committee that writes criminal law, protects the law of the land and strives to keep our children safe,” Marino said. “This committee is often referred to as the guardian of the Constitution and I cannot think of a more noble mission.”

Marino is one of 10 members of the Judiciary Committee and one of two former U.S. Attorneys assigned to the panel that will focus on strengthening national security, protecting intellectual property, and preventing frivolous lawsuits, according to Chairman-Elect Smith.

Other members of the Judiciary Committee include Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana, who is considered as a possible presidential contender, and Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas, who a freshman who served as U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Arkansas. Marino, 58, served as a U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

King said the priorities for the Committee on Homeland Security include: stopping the Obama administration’s plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees and try them in civilian courts; holding hearings on the plans to close Guantanamo; holding hearings on the attack at Fort Hood; and enacting additional border security legislation to curb illegal immigration.

Contact: Renita Fennick

Monday, December 13, 2010

Luzerne County Corruption Scandal: Insert wrist, receive slap

So I’m reading this update from the Citizens’ Voice in which it is reported that Former Luzerne County Human Resources Director Doug Richards was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for being a thieving, no-good sumbitch.

And this here excerpt got my fertile mind to racing:

He is one of more than 30 people charged in an ongoing federal corruption probe.

Yeah, okay, so 30-some have been charged. And, what, 25 or so have been sentenced?

And what, pray tell, did those sentences amount to other than a gigantic slap on the collective wrists?

Think about it. Adding in the two years in prison former commissioner Greg Skrepenak is currently serving, how many years did all of those sentences add up to for the lot of the corrupt public figures? 4 years? 5 years total? What bunk.

I read the front page story the Times Leader ran a few weeks back on the federal sentencing guidelines and the like, but it still seems as if the folks involved are getting off very lightly.

Hell, you’ll get a longer prison sentence for selling a couple of ounces of marijuana. Especially if you happen to have a permanent tan.

Anyway, it seems to me that if you’re going to lead a life of crime, doing so from a public office insulates you from real punishment.

Sez me.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Truncated domes

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act circa 1990, Fedrule funding was made available for curb cuts all across Amerika.

We were told that cutting the curbs down to street level at intersections everywhere would better serve visually-impaired pedestrians as well as those physically-impaired folks who navigate the urban landscape by way of a motorized scooter. By cutting the curbs, they essentially turned the curbs at intersections in “curb ramps.” I'm not making this up. Your Fedrule Govmint at work, kiddies.

That cutting began to manifest itself in this area some ten years ago or somewhere thereabouts. And as an avid cyclist, I couldn’t have been happier at the time save for a drunken romp with Sharon Stone. And as could have been expected at the time, never did I have to share any of these modified at-grade curbs with any members of those aforementioned groups.

In other words, more good intentions amounting to next to nothing except more misapplied Fedrule expenditures.

Here we are a decade later, and we’re reworking every one of those curbs at practically every intersection across the country all over again. Thanks to the boondoggle that is that billion dollar Fedrule Reinvestment Act, now our curbs and transit platforms and the like need “detectable warning surfaces,” as in big rubber mats with truncated domes embedded in the sidewalks at the street‘s edge. All of which is creating temporary work rather than permanent jobs.

Search for "detectable warning surfaces" and plenty of images can be had. To see them with your own four eyes, visit the new crosswalk at Boscov's, the crosswalk at the Wilkes cafeteria or at the intersection of Northampton and Empire.

The purpose of these rubber mats is to alert the visually-impaired to the fact that they are fast approaching the street, the edge of the subway platform and what have you. In effect, it’s like sidewalk Braille shouting Danger! Proximity alert!

While you may or may not have detected the presence of the detectable welcome mats in your municipalities, they are currently being installed all over NEPA. I searched and searched the Recovery.org site, but I was unable to determine what amount of imaginary money the Feds have devoted to this mostly unneeded, but accelerated Utopian malarkey. And a call to a high-ranking Wilkes-Barre City official earlier this morning went unreturned. Although, I did come across the following blurb…

The combined funding of Federal, State and local government on surface transportation is one of this county’s largest domestic spending programs. The funding for pedestrian issues has increased dramatically since 1991. This increase was spurred by transportation legislation, grassroots support, and accessibility policies. Pedestrian projects and programs are eligible for funding in almost every major Federal-aid surface transportation category. Transportation legislation, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998, call for mainstreaming pedestrian (and bicycle) projects into planning, design, and operation of our Nation’s transportation system.

Yikes! Please tell me we’re not matching those Fedrule funds with any of our scarce local funds. Please tell me that Wilkes-Barre is not spending much-needed resources on the installation of rubber welcome mats. And please, please tell me that bicycle tires will not slide on these rubber mats during periods of precipitation.

Bicyclists…Were you injured because of a rubber welcome mat? Call the law firm of Quigly, Jiggly & Jerk. at 1-800-Truncate.

Anyway, this is a great example of your Fedrule Govmint at work. What we needed, what we asked for was an economic recovery. And what we got was truncated domes as far as the eye could see.

That one-way mission to colonize Mars is looking better and better with each passing day.

Pedal on.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Reading assignments

From ProPublica.org:

Beyond Fracking: Experts Challenge Safety of Exploratory Wells, Vertical Drilling

For more than two years, the natural gas drilling debate has focused primarily on the use of hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells. But expert testimony submitted for a government hearing next month challenges long-held assumptions about the safety of deep vertical drilling and exploratory wells, which operate in many states with limited regulatory oversight.


EPA Says Gas Drilling in Texas Contaminated Water and Presents ‘Threat of Explosion’

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency order yesterday accusing a natural gas driller of contaminating water supplies in North Texas and giving the company 48 hours to provide potable water to those affected.

In a letter sent to the drilling company, Range Resources [1], [PDF], the agency said it had determined an “imminent and substantial endangerment” to a public aquifer through methane contamination related to the company’s oil and gas operations in the area. Two private wells had already been contaminated, according to the EPA:...

There will be a quiz.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Extend the, uh, mistake?

After having to hear the Democrats, the media and academia relentlessly assail the ‘Bush tax cuts’ as the worst thing since the advent of fully-automatic BB guns for the better part of a decade, from the leader of the three-headed spending hydra comes the call to extend those hated tax cuts for another two years.

Say what?

Makes about as much sense as their preferred border policy…the Swiss Cheese Act.

And by he way, if Sen. Harry Reid disappeared without even a trace, do you think anyone would notice?

Dingbats all!

Just for the sake of public health and safety, I need to respond to a reader comment.

Anonymous said...

On a side note a local company has Steri-Fab which is used by (as per state law) rental agency to disinfect rental furniture. It does kill bed bugs.

they have a web site http://www.steri-fabstore.com/

just throwing that out there

December 9, 2010 6:43 AM

Steri-Fab will kill the bedbugs it comes in contact with before drying, but it has no residual effect. Most importantly, it will not interrupt the breeding cycle, which means it will not stop the nearly invisible (often less than 1 mm) eggs from hatching.

The only way to prevent the next generation from appearing is through the use of synergists as well as growth regulators.

My point is as follows…if you discover that you have an issue with these most resilient of pests, buying products over the counter in an attempt to save some money will almost assuredly result in a catastrophic failure.

Consider how much shrink wrap you’d need to purchase for the purposes of removing your infested furniture when the garbage hopper is delivered to your home. And then add in the cost of someone who’s expertise and experience you will need.

I’m not saying there are not any do-it-yourself approaches to pest control that work. What I’m saying is, if you go it alone with bedbugs, in the end you’re going to be very, very sorry that you did.

And the bite, er, the beat goes on.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Bedbugs' bite felt in Kingston

My favorite part: Management of Daniel J. Flood Tower, owned by Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties, hosted a meeting Wednesday with residents. However, the specific issue of bedbugs at the tower was never addressed. A pest control specialist gave a presentation on bedbugs and how to combat them.

(What sayeth you, KD?)

Williams' son, Don, said management was, or should have been, aware that the apartment below his mother was infested at the time she developed rashes that were consistent with bedbug bites.

"Because none of the residents were alerted to the problem, they did not aggressively treat this or communicate with people to warn them," Don Williams said.

DING!!! We have a winner.

Reactive rather than proactive. Or in other words, too late. Page 1. Bummer.

Coming soon: “Tax cuts for the rich” or: Why I am so easily-led


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"One of those things"

Since I know a thing or two about bedbugs, this one certainly caught my eye. As a matter of full disclosure, I spent the better part of this afternoon dealing with said creatures.

From the Times Leader:

Bedbugs infesting Kingston high-rise

Excerpt #1: KINGSTON – The management company that runs the largest independent high rise in Kingston was served with a compliance letter after a municipal code officer’s investigation turned up signs of a bedbug infestation on Monday.

Home to 200 residents, the 16-story Daniel J. Flood Towers has had an ongoing bedbug problem in at least two units, prompting Code Enforcement Officer Joe Marut to take official action by ordering the property’s management firm to alleviate the problem.

He issued a compliance letter after an inspection turned up dead bedbugs in Unit 10C. He gave the property management firm, Pennrose Properties in Philadelphia, 10 days to begin correcting the problem.

Excerpt #2 (much more fun): Paul Sassani, regional vice president of operations for Pennrose Properties, said the report of bedbugs in the complex was “one of those things.” He said the problem is hard to prevent and even harder to eradicate when you’re talking about a high-rise apartment complex with so many residents coming and going.

One of those things? One of those things? Let us go there.

Trust me, this can only be “one of those things” so long as those things in question are not cohabiting with you. Or should I say, feeding off of you. As in, feeding directly from your blood supply.

No, when it's your house, your bed, your blood supply...it's an emergency.

What this guy needs is less CYA and a heavy dose of compassion. Oh, and property managers that realize the scope of the problem before it becomes an emergency. A problem that can go from being an annoying incident to a full-blown, out-of-control infestation in the blink of an eye.

Whatever. Time for Chef Ramsey.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Intemperate musings

It started but a few short hours ago with this post: Bedbugs @ Daniel J. Flood Tower - Kingston, Luzerne County, PA.

By 10 am this morning, he, the author of that post, was covering this with Sue Henry on WILK.

And by 3 pm, the following electronic pulse arrived here:


Dept. of Health paid a visit to DJFT today. All furniture from "ground zero" unit had to be removed "immediately". Was on its way out before 1 p.m. may be some other stuff going down.

Should be in T/L tomorrow or Wednesday.


All of which led me to, Kayak Dude: Freaking Man of Action. Outstanding, Dude.

Speaking of Bedbugs, if anyone needs help or advice, send me a pulse. I'd be happy to help.

The big local blog-o-rama question seems to be, “What happened to Gortimus Maximus?”

Hell, we haven’t had this much intrigue on the local electronic scene since I reported that a grand jury was set to indict a local blogger as part of our ongoing corruption scandal. A report, by the way, that I made up just to see who’d be mentally incontinent enough to run with it. No names. You know who you are. Er, who y’all were. Dunces.

Anyway, what the heck happened to Gort? Fact is, for the first time ever, he did not respond to my request that he give me a buzz on the dinosaur…our land line telephone. I have no idea why.

I suppose he’s pulling a Led Zeppelin on us. That is to say, he remain as inaccessible as humanly possible so as to create as much mystery as is humanly possible. Which leads all of us sheep to that “V’ger needs to know” thing and then some.

It’s either that, or he’s preparing to return to his home planet.

I dunno.

I am sick and tired of hearing about this issue on a daily basis, an issue I consider a complete non-issue...”Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Gays in the military? Not a problem. Here‘s why.

I’m serving in the U.S. military, practically side-by-side with you. I’m as straight as straight gets. You’re as gay as they come. The U.S. military has provided me access to a vast array of lethal weaponry. With all of that having been typed, are you really considering a sexual advance that I would consider wholly inappropriate?

That’s what I thought.

In response to some noise made on the local Internet, Charlotte Raup, president of the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch, made an appearance on Sue Henry’s WILK show very early last week.

As a result, the owner of Wilkes-Barre’s Hardware Bar, Mr. Kamionka, made an appearance on Sue’s show as well the very next day. It was as if he wanted equal time to counter Charlotte’s assertion that the bar generates more than it’s fair share of trouble resulting in calls being made to 911. You know, that it's a nuisance.

He said all of the right things, I suppose. Economic investment. Foot traffic. And believing in the downtown. All of that urban planner type speak. But near the end of his WILK appearance, he said that rather than “slinging arrows,” Charlotte Raup ought to get together with him so they can “work on solutions.” I was awestruck by the testicular matter necessary to make that utterly absurd statement.

Solutions to what? The visibly intoxicated Fight Club wannabes crawling out of that club?

He can say all of the right things until the long overdue Rapture, but I’m not the least bit impressed. That bar is an idiot magnet, and a nuisance to it’s neighbors. Argue me that.

On a related aside, I once locked up my trusty Hummer out front and attempted to head into the Hardware, just to see what all of the fuss was about. The bouncers denied me access. They denied me access because of the dress code, at which one of the muscled-up pointed. I laughed at the two of them and wandered back to my bike.

So let’s get this straight. The girls are allowed to jiggle all about wearing little more than tassels and a pair of socks, but a bicycle rider is not allowed a look while wearing proper cycling attire.
Makes about as much sense as paying ten bucks for a single shot of whiskey.

Whatever, man.


Monday, November 29, 2010

We need jobs, not entitlements

Remember that third party presidential candidate that warned of that “giant sucking sound,” the guy who warned us that those long ago entitlements, those American manufacturing jobs of ours were going to be being sacrificed for the greater good that would be an interconnected “world economy” that is now poised for a titanic collapse?

Remember that he was mocked at nearly every turn and publicly belittled by the politically entrenched only because he rose from the ranks of the third party folks that were not invited to the malfeasance and mismanagement that is Washington D.C.?

Let them eat cake, imported or otherwise.

From Propublica.org:

With Federal Benefits Set to Expire, Unemployed Workers Face Shrinking Safety Net

Unless Congress acts to extend programs for those who have exhausted regular state unemployment benefits, millions of jobless workers may soon be phased out of emergency unemployment benefits [1].

Unemployment benefits from states typically last for 26 weeks, but since 2008, Congress has on four occasions [2] passed emergency provisions that use federal funds to extend benefits for jobless workers by up to 73 weeks [3], depending on the state’s laws and unemployment rate. These benefits are set to expire tomorrow unless lawmakers intervene.

The way I see it, we wouldn’t need to be goofing around with our health care delivery system if people had meaningful, family-sustaining jobs. And we wouldn’t need extended, extended again, and then extended--still-some-more unemployment benefits if people had meaningful, family-sustaining jobs. And we wouldn’t need newly created, but ill-timed and prohibitively expensive safety nets if people had meaningful, family-sustaining jobs.

But what we got was what the career politicians told us we needed. What we got were ill-thought out trade agreements the likes of N.A.F.T.A. and G.A.T.T. And now, we have the scant remnants, the last vestiges of the long-shrinking manufacturing base that cannot be replaced by the once highly-touted service industry jobs, despite what we were told.

We do not need ill-conceived government-provided health care programs, nor do we need profligate government-supplied artificial income. What we need is a growing manufacturing base. What we need is an abundance of well-paying jobs that provide not only benefits but retirement plans as well. And we’ll never receive what we need until the fools that misguide, misuse and misinterpret the powers of the Fedrule Govmint finally realize that outright tyranny severely restricts economic output every time it‘s tried.

Surprising as it may seem to most; a long, long time ago, Ross Perot was the smartest guy in the room.

We need jobs, not entitlements.

Sez me.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Credit card by day, Kevlar vest by night

What was that old Warren Zevon classic, Lawyers, Guns & Money?

Yeah, well, mixing guns and alcohol all but guarantees the need for a lawyer and heaping gobs of money. Probably taxpayer-provided lawyers and money, but that’s a whole other topic.

From the Times Leader:

Cops: Man fired at vehicles in parkade

WILKES-BARRE – Police arrested a man early Saturday morning after he allegedly fired a gun at two occupied vehicles inside a downtown parking garage.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Man charged with firing gun in intermodal center

An Edwardsville man faces numerous felony charges after firing a stolen semi-automatic handgun at people he had been arguing with in the James F. Conahan Intermodal Transportation Center parking deck in Wilkes-Barre early Saturday morning.

My grandson (rodent) Zach and I were downtown yesterday afternoon. We needed to hit the Rite Aid for some children’s cough syrup as his brother is ill. We then explored the annual Christmas extravaganza in Boscov’s basement, at which I plunked down a quick 50 bucks for a nifty battery-powered Santa train.

And then, then we got down to some important business at my personal version of Heaven--Gallery of Sound. And we perused the used Xbox games at the video wonder world just next door. After much hand wringing, Zach settled on Aliens vs. Predators. Great, more blood splatter as entertainment.

And on the way home, we walked through the entirety of the intermodel center just to take it all in, the new amenity and all. The people, the sounds, the exhaust.

What this latest incident hints at is the duality that our suddenly hustling and bustling downtown has to offer.

You can lazily and mindlessly shop by day, and then literally risk life and limb after the bars get good and rocking. Credit card by day, Kevlar vest by night.

I say again …nuisance bar.

*Follow that link. Very telling photos from inside the bar.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wilkes-Barre's "Fight Club"

In what seems like an eon ago, Wifey threatened our eldest two toddlers with physical violence (spanking) for seriously acting out on an LCTA bus.

And thanks to a nosy neighbor who was also riding that bus that day, the Children & Youth incompetents showed up at our house wielding threats of kiddie foreclosure. Luckily for them, I was right where I always was…at work.

Having lived with a physically-abusive step-father for far too many years, I feel I can easily differentiate between idle threats and real child abuse. To be a bit more insightful, know that my step-dad knew no bounds when he blew yet another fuse. In fact, the guy was all-too-frequently flat-out mean.

Anyway, if you threaten your kids in public you could lose them to Foster Hell. And Allah forbid, if you momentarily lose your temper and backhand a deserving child gone temporarily rogue, you do stand the chance of losing custody of said child for years on end, if not, forever.

Yet, it is apparently not considered inattentive or abusive to allow one’s children to wait for the school bus in bone-chilling cold without hats, gloves or coats.

Must be me.

Very recently, my son and his wingman announced that they were headed down to an uber popular downtown watering hole to play some pool.

Hearing that, I asked my son to go elsewhere. I told him he’d be better off playing pool at a corner bar than at downtown Wilkes-Barre’s official version of Fight Club. I warned him of the pitfalls that await those to partake of Fight Club. I reminded him that the police scanner doesn’t lie.

Undaunted, my concerns borne of Scanner Land provided him with a chuckle. Still though, he did listen as I told him what to expect if the fists got to flying at him and his.

Needless to say, the fists did get to flying at him and his. And as I had foretold, the staff of said establishment pushed those who would dare fight onto the sidewalks out front to be, ahem, dealt with by the Wilkes-Barre police department.

In other words, even though the trouble always starts in the establishment, it gets shoved outside and it usually culminates in mini-brawls and blood-strewn donnybrooks on the nearby sidewalks and streets, or in or adjacent to Central Lock, but always within shouting distance of a residential high-rise. And then it's our problem.

Luckily for my son, he did listen when I told him to hit fast and furious if necessary, but to get the hell out of there lickety split as the police typically respond to Fight Club as quickly as can be expected. And he now knows not to frequent that obvious nuisance bar anymore.

So, no more Hardware Bar for my kid.

I promise, I solemnly swear that the next time I see DPW workers scatter garage all over the street, giggle and then drive away from the mess they alone created, I will take down the vehicle number, make note of the time and place and report them to City Hall.

Count on it.

Which makes me ask all over again, why haven’t we privatized our curbside collections? Why? Because those highly efficient private haulers would not hire our then deservingly displaced unionized DPW workers.

Enough already.

A question about Black Friday is as follows…

Are you people freaking serious?

How’s that Haggerty Rule looking to you so far?

The folks promising transparency in government have avoided transparency while anointing a Haggerty Rule transition team.

Not to worry, though. If Initiative and Referendum doesn’t fix it, there’s always moving vans to be had.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ill as all get-out

Despite the rumors circulating during my richly deserved Internet hiatus, I ain’t been trying to have Michael Vick’s baby. I’ll leave that one to you…NEPA.

I have had the mother of all respiratory disturbances for the past three weeks. No matter how much cough syrup and the like I poured down my heaving gullet, nothing. No relief in sight. I think I drank enough NyQuil to affect the stock's price. And, of course, during this annoying stretch, I’ve been working later, and working six-day weeks to boot.

Finally, I’m starting to get back to normal which means I’m still slightly demented but breathing much, much better. Anyway, I figured I ought not write when ill so as to tamp down the contagion. (?)

During my break from all of this electronic tomfoolery you deem to be so important, I’ve been following all of the outrage generated over the airports pat-downs. Molestations, to be a bit more descriptive. Forget free food and free drinks in first class, how about some complimentary baby oil packets?

They way I see it, this is simple. And Allah only knows, I like simplicity.

Pick one: You can be groped, stroked and probed at the airport screener aisle. Or, you can plunge screaming from 20,000 feet, still strapped to your seat, but covered in burning aviation fuel.

Simple, really.

It was amazing that immediately after the electoral dust settled on November 3rd, to a man, the hard, hard-core lefties started making incessant noise about holding the surging Republicans accountable, about holding them to their word, if you will.

Firstly, where was all of this keen interest in accountability as Baroke Oblahblah and his now discredited and departed “experts” from academia were making misstep after misstep?

And secondly, while you’re screaming out against austerity measures, you’re promising to trash Republicans if they do not deliver them? Huh? Have I been concussed whilst I slept?

I really hate to rub her nose in it, but WILK’s Nancy Kman had this to say on 11/12/2010: “I don’t want the Republicans dithering with health care with the economy in ruins.”

Sure. Different party, different standards. In fact, a whole new measuring stick.

Uh, didn’t the Democrats dither with health care for nine months while the economy was in ruins? Sure they did. And now, now that they know they screwed the pooch with that one, now they are offering exclusions to the Utopian health care plan at a dizzying rate. 131 exclusions, last time I checked.

Can you say...repeal?

Anyway, now that checks and balance have been restored to the system, now that a few Republicans have been elected into the dysfunctional mix, now the sleepers on the left have awakened. Now they want to know that campaign trail promises made become promises kept. Much unlike what they did after the Hope & Change snake oil caravan came to town.

Hypocrites on parade, sez me.

I always found my way back to the imbecility only because I truly love talk radio, my trusty daytime companion.

As for the usual imbecility, I’d tell myself I was done with the condescension. And I’d tell myself I could no longer tolerate the not-so-veiled air of superiority gone full-blown insult. And I'd marvel at all of the unearned arrogance. And I’d seethe every time I heard that you “believe what you think you believe.”

But when a radio talk show host piggybacks on the death of a local soldier for three days on end in an attempt to generate calls and ratings, after he again tries to inject himself into the story, I am officially done with it.

So, at 3 pm each weekday, I have been reduced to listening to Sean Hannity on 94.3 The Talker.

And if you know just how much I cannot stand Sean Hannity for too, too long, that tells you how much I loathe the imbecility run all but amok. Imbecility such as…Congressman-elect Lou Barletta’s wardrobe is an issue all of a sudden?

You see? Imbecility begets more imbecility.

Talk is cheap. Especially after 3 pm, it is.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wait! Don't jump!

The midterm election is almost behind us, and the spin is flowing like so many methane bubbles into our water supplies. And the apoplectic folks on the slaughtered side seem to be despondent.

Here’s the talking point that seems to have been received by damn near all of the hysterical folks leaning noticeably to the left: now that the Republicans have seized control of the House of Representatives, the onus is on them to cooperate with the Democrats.


Rather, it is now time for our my-Marxist-way-or-the-highway president to come down off of his lofty perch built of arrogance and embrace the concept of duality in government. It’s time for him to include his “enemies.”

Economically speaking, it’s time for him to deliver certainty rather than his usual contribution -- uncertainty. And it’s time that he realize that humility on his part might help to repair some of the bridges over the widened political divide that he had no qualms about torching.

Don’t hold your breath.

Once the winners of the various local, state and national races were being determined late last night, once it became obvious that things were breaking very one-sided, the mood of the folks on WILK radio began to darken.

Nancy: “Sometimes you get what you pay for.”

Corbett (on Marino): “…and now we have a flawed congressman.”

Corbett (this morning): “It’s mourning time in America.”

Good sports, heyna?

The morning show guest, David Yonki, accidentally nailed the crux of the obvious voter discontent when he said, “There are good things and bad things in the health care plan.”

Exactly, Dave. You nailed it.

So the question still begs, why would the Democrats pass a piece of sweeping legislation--an eventual government takeover of health care--a sweeping reform the opposition party was powerless to stop, with bad things included in it?

Do we mistakenly think that sort of nonsense passes the smell test out here in the real world?

Will my employer be pleased with my performance if I deliver good things as well as bad things? Will that less than satisfactory effort on my part keep me employed for very long? Remember, one ah-sh*t wipes out all accrued atta-boys. That's how it works out here in the productive sector.

No prospective politician promises bad things whilst they court our votes. So why should we be willing to accept bad things after they hoodwink us into electing them?

Face it, the health care plan is a fatally flawed plan. And when we dared to suggest as much, we were quickly shooed away and openly mocked by a political party that seriously overestimated it’s threadbare political capital.

And that’s exactly why the worst local candidate I have ever run across--Tom Marino--just knocked off a superior candidate in Chris Carney. Bad things came to the guy who did as he was told and voted for bad things.

Bad things? Nah. The way I’m remembering it, none of us voted for any of that.

Tarah Toohil’s upset of that Lex Luthor impersonator down south of here a ways was nothing less than remarkable. What a difference two years can make.

Two years ago, Kanjo fought off Barletta’s challenge by riding Obama’s coattails. This time around, could it be that Barletta’s coattails helped to propel Toohil to an upset victory?

Wild stuff.

And lastly, here comes Home Rule to Luzerne County.

The unofficial numbers have 49,000 voting for it, with 40,000 voting against it.

I know it isn’t possible, but I’d love to see a breakdown of the numbers against it. As in, who voted to save their jobs. Who voted to save a friend or a relative’s job. Who voted in the negative as a way of ensuring a future job, or some lucrative contract or what have you. I’m willing to bet that at least half of the nay votes had some sort of self-serving aspects to them.

Anyway, believe it or not, when next we vote, we’ve got to start figuring out who will serve as the 11 county council folks.

If you’re given to praying, you might want to start now.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My finger did the talkin'

Screw this election day malarkey! Randy Moss was waived by the Minnesota Vikings.

I’m not sure what’s up with this guy, who has just played and talked himself off of two NFL rosters inside of a month. Is it just that his now legendary mood swings combined with a massive dose of immaturity have totally clouded his less than accurate vision? Or is the fact that he can no longer fight his way out of a jam at the line of scrimmage making him nuttier than usual?

Actually, there are parallels here with Obama’s meteoric rise from relative obscurity and his rapid decent into insignificance. Knew it all, then blew it all.
Can we waive Obama, our charlatan-in-chief?

Perhaps not. But we can waive his under performing teammates.

Thanks entirely to the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, I slept in this morning. Just a little bit, mind you.

As a result, I didn’t make it to my polling place until 7:22 am. It was still pitch black outside, and there were no poll workers in sight. Which, in all honesty, was unfortunate. I so love mucking about with those useless, mindless, easily-led partisan dolts. You know, union members.

Even at that late hour, I was voter #22. Not bad for a midterm election. 22 voters in 22 minutes.
Proving once again that I am not some hopelessly partisan prevaricator, my voting choices went like this: 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats and 1 Libertarian.

I voted for Lou Barletta rather than the condescending grump. I went with Dan Onorato rather than Frackles. I went with Pat Toomey over Joe Sestak, but only because Sestak’s relentless attack ads were about as unfair as anything I’ve seen to date. Over and over and over again, “Greed is good.” Cut me a fu>king break already!

I voted for Ed Pashinski, a generally good and decent man. And I voted for Betsy Summers over both John Yudichak and Steven A. Urban. Yudichak pretends to be a reformer, while being nothing of the sort. And Urban knew nothing, saw nothing and heard nothing while our county coffers were being made insolvent by hordes of less-than-covert criminals.

As for that Home Rule question, surprisingly, I found my finger to be hovering over than screen while my mind raced.

I know better. I really do know better. I’m almost certain that I’ll live to regret it, but I depressed that Yes button. And with that, I endorsed a switch to Haggerty Rule.

Based on the easily-manipulated gray area form of governance bordering on malfeasance that we currently have, I figured a change is all but necessary. But the new system, if enacted, is very, very far from perfect. I see it as a beginning, but not the end-all. And I can honestly say that this is the very first time that any of my votes immediately filled me with trepidation.

Anyway, not to belabor all of this bullspit, I voted, I bought a brand new kerosene heater, I got some trendy agricultural amusement aides in hand, I’ve got tomorrow off; so all that’s left to do is stay up all night and wait for the U.S.S. Marxism--the Democrat Party--to hit that proverbial iceberg amidships.

Or should I say, all that’s left to do is to enjoy myself.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween is a waning

A New York Giants-styled pumpkin.

Not only is my daughter smart, attractive and a jock extraordinaire, she's loyal 'til the very end.

We bought 15 pounds worth of Tootsie rolls and Fruities, but by the end of Halloween night only 40 kids came a callin' for any of it. I'm not sure why that was, but it seems as if yet another snippet of Americana is fast-disappearing.

Then again, judging from the recent Halloween party I attended, adults will spare no effort or expense when alcohol and a hot buffet are thrown into the ghoulish mix.

As for the kids, well, it's too much like work for the adults to play chaperone one night a year.


Sunday, October 31, 2010


You know the deal. It’s like this: Big boy job equals no time for playing on the Internet. Somebody has got to produce. Somebody has got to pay for all of the entitlements.

I’m giving points for creativity on this mischief night report from Wilkes-Barre. Somebody (stupidly) called 911 because his car was covered in Post-It notes. Nice.

I got that beat, though. Many, many moons ago, some of my goons and I covered a Chevy Malibu in strawberry glaze. My idea.

Here’s one for you. A customer told me she wants the Republicans to sweep the Democrats out of office in a big and painful way. But…she wants Paul Kanjorski to win another term. The way she figures it, if Kanjo is surrounded by Republicans, it’ll force him to “get his act together.” Huh?

I’ve been getting hammered with political mailers. And I’ve never gotten so many pre-recorded messages from the candidates via the telephone. But until last night, not a single knock on the door.

This lady came to the door, handed me a Joe Sestak door hanger and asked for my daughter. When told she wasn’t home, the lady then asked me if Ebon intended to vote on Tuesday. I told her I had no idea about that, so she practically begged me to get Ebon to the polls and quipped, “We really need the young people to vote.”

Uh, yeah. Those young, easily-duped folks got burned by the Hope & Change Express, so I kind of doubt that they’ll show up again in large numbers. The old ‘fool me twice‘ thing, I suppose.

After hearing Bill Clinton’s pep rally (WILK) held down there in Nanticoke, I’m left to assume that Paul Kanjorski is vulnerable only to kryptonite.

The Summer of Recovery (?) has now given way to the Winter of Harsh Realities.

The president of the United States made an appearance on Comedy Central. How long before Baroke Oblahblah ups and shouts, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” Sad.

This past week, I went and signed on for the 21st century. Yep, I went and bought me, not one, but two of those 21 billion jigg-a-watt LCD televisions. And one of them even has a built-in baby-sitter, a DVD player.

So now, when the boys get on grandma’s nerves, I’ll pop in Black Hawk Down and let them take in two hours worth of death and destruction. We wouldn’t want them getting behind the other kids, would we?

Now I’m fixin’ to get me one of those personal computers powerful enough to rig a national election. I dunno. A Diebold with Windows Vista?

I also want a copy of George W. Bush’s book. I’ve read some captivating books over the years. But I never thought I’d be able to read the words of the anti-Christ himself.

My son-in-law, toiling away in his office down Knoxville way, glanced out of his window and spotted a tornado coming his way. Sent me a cool picture, he did.

Anyway, up in these parts, we get rapid-fire weather alerts when two inches of rain might be possible. And if the wind picks up enough to be even mildly annoying, we’re told to think about heading for the sub-basements with emergency kits in hand.

When I asked the son-in-law what he and his coworkers did while the twister was headed their way, he said they mostly stood around and watched it. Must be a southern thing.

Oh, yeah. I ordered myself one of those E-cigs. For those of you not yet hopelessly addicted to cigarettes, that would be an electronic cigarette.

The thing will supposedly look like a Newport, taste like a Newport, deliver nicotine like a Newport, give my fingers something to do like a Newport typically does, but it will not deliver any smoke, tar or any of that other good stuff.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to it’s being delivered.

I must now retreat to the relative safety of my fantasy football underworld. But before I do, know that I will be staying up all night when next we vote. So if any of you politically astute folks want to rap on Tuesday night, give me a shout. And for those of you on the left side of the deepening political divide, I offer a shoulder to cry on.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The continuing Markie Chronicles

My daughter Peace’s tireless forays into genealogy and all of that have been nothing less than astounding. Eye-opening. Revealing.

And all too often, they present even more questions after a few older questions have been answered to some degree. Every time I think she’s unearthed all that could possibly be unearthed--she delivers yet another aged gem.

Know that before she launched into this journey into the nothingness that was my parental historical side of things, I knew my father’s name, his sister’s and his parents names and not much else. Two years ago, I didn’t even know my own father’s birth date.

I knew he was a genius. I knew he was a senior design engineer in aerospace-related stuff and that was about that. For whatever reason, my mother was not very honest with me whereas he was concerned. I’m not sure why, but he was always a closely-guarded secret when the subject came up. And that’s the only thing I hate her for.

Anyway, every time my daughter dredges up some now ancient piece of the puzzle, more and more that I never knew before her most recent discovery is revealed to me, as well as her.

Here’s the latest…

Sarasota Herald Tribune - March 17, 1962

Scheme To Hide 3-Year-Old Backfires On Florida Dad

A Sarasota woman is involved in a complicated scheme to hide a three-year-old boy from his mother and a Florida court.

The woman, Mrs. Jacqueline Andrews of 2051 Ninth St., is aiding her brother, who is the boy’s father, in the scheme. The plan has, in a way, backfired.

The brother is Eugene Cour of Clearwater. According to the Associated Press, Cour himself is now unable to find the boy.

Cour is the senior development engineer at the Minneapolis-Honeywell plant near Clearwater and Friday was in jail. Circuit Judge Charles M. Philips Jr. ordered Cour held until he reveals the whereabouts of his son, Mark.

The story began last summer.

Mrs. Dorothy Cour sued her husband for divorce, charging extreme cruelty. He filed a counter claim, won the divorce and was given custody of their son.

Cour went to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where Mrs. Cour was living with her parents and got the child.
Mrs. Cour filed a new petition with the court, however, and on Oct. 20 Judge Phillips granted her custody of the child for nine months each year.

A few hours later, Cour and his son disappeared.

Cour was arrested in February in Fort Lauderdale and returned but refused to reveal where his son could be found, and jailed.

Friday, Cour’s attorney, Roland Fox, revealed his dilemma.

Someone else has young Mark, traveling anywhere in the United States or Canada. Cour won’t say who that person is, though there is speculation that it is his wife, Martha, whom he married following the divorce last summer.

Fox said Cour had instructed the custodian to purchase the Chicago Sunday Tribune each week wherever he, or she, might be. He planned to place a classified advertisement in the Sunday Tribune if he wished to contact the custodian.

The ad was to be coded, Fox said, and would notify the custodian to pick up a letter at the general delivery window in the post office in the nearest city with a population of more than 50,000.

Following the recent ruling of the court, Fox said, Cour’s sister - Mrs. Andrews - mailed a letter to every town in the United States and Canada with a population of more than 50,000 - a total of 307 of them.

The letter, part of which was in code, simply set forth what had happened to Cour, Fox said. It didn’t give the custodian any instruction.

“He felt he wasn’t in a position to jeopardize the custodian,” Fox said.

Last Sunday, the coded advertisement ran in the want-ads of the Chicago Tribune. But when Fox picked up a copy of the paper in Clearwater, he found to his dismay that it didn’t contain the classified section. This circulates only in the Chicago metropolitan area, he said.

Arrangements are being made to place a regular display advertisement - coded, of course - in this Sunday’s Tribune. But Fox said they were concerned that the reputation of being a brilliant custodian might miss it.

Why did Cour, who has the man, defy the court?

“It wasn’t a matter of flaunting the law,” said Fox. “He sincerely felt that he was doing what was best for the child.”

Sure, it got a little fuzzy (Bush-speak) there at the end.

Still, though, the latest answers lead to still more perplexing questions. Questions that will probably never be answered in full.

And, yet, they wonder aloud as to why I’m so screwed-up.


Coming soon to Luzerne County: Ugliness

During one of our 2007 paddling adventures, Kayak Dude said it would be like this.

And I quote: “This is gonna get ugly.”

In Dimock Township and the surrounding environs, fracking has pitted neighbor versus neighbor, business owners versus residential property owners, the state versus Cabot Oil and common sense environmentalism versus the intoxicating allure of royalties.

Here in Luzerne County, we’ve got a coalition of Back Mountain residents telling us that while Cabot Oil has made a mess of things up north, they welcome Encana with open arms and prehensile lips because, as they tell it, Encana is a much more responsible company and will get it right.

While they may or may not be correct in making this self-centered assertion, I’m here to tell them that if they leased their lands that bordered mine, I’d be a tad bit more than peeved with them. In fact, if their mad dash to the cash resulted in my having to head out to the water buffalo in the driveway every time I needed a rinsing off, they’d be smart to stay well away from me.

To hear the Cabot Oil apologists ($$$) tell it, naturally occurring methane bubbles up all over the freakin’ place. Not only that, it’s been bubbling up all over the freakin’ place for decades on end.

Really? Try telling that to David Buck of Endless Mountain Outfitters.

Thanks to Kayak Dude, I was at Buck’s spread in Sugar Run back in January of 2006. The weather forecasters said it would top out somewhere near 55 gloriously warm degrees, so KD beckoned me to get on out there and paddle some in January. And paddle we did.

We put in at the boat launch in Wysox, just a stone’s throw from Towanda. And then we paddled through Sugar Run and ended our voyage at Wyalusing. I think it was a thirty mile trip, but I may be remembering it wrong. Not that the estimated mileage matters in the least.

The point being, in those pre-fracking days of 2006, there were no methane bubbles to be found on that northern expanse of the Susquehanna River. None. Nada, Zip.

Oh, but now we do have methane bubbling up all over the freakin’ place on that stretch of the river. And, no, you can’t blame this particular foul-up on Cabot. Likewise, it can’t be blamed on Encana. Nope, up there in Endless Mountain way, we have yet another company fracturing the layers of shale.

The names of the companies do not matter to me as much as the rate of incidents. The percentages, if you will. And so far, we’ve got two companies fracking in two areas separated by many a mile, and those two areas are now bubbling up methane all over the freakin’ place.

But not to worry, though. We have the publicly-uttered assurances of a few Back Mountain residents already on the wet side of a gas company’s bed that Encana will get it right in our county.

Right! I’d sure hate to be them when the methane gets to bubbling just a few miles from here.

If and when the methane starts bubbling up in the Back Mountain, I’m thinking that some ugliness may find it’s way to those who, despite the empirical evidence presented to us thus far, dare to tell us that all will be well during this next fracking go-round.

All I know is, if I were to be reduced to sticking my head under a spigot attached to a water buffalo for a gulp of water only because my neighbor had multitudes of illusive dollar signs wafting before their unfocused eyes, I’d likely be going off my rocker on somebody. And without even the slightest of further provocations.

And there it is. Whatever it is, there it is.

Coming soon to Luzerne County: Ugliness.

And with that, the words of the immortal Francis Vincent Zappa: “There’s more of us ugly mother-fu>kers than you are.”


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Intemperate musings

I ain’t even considered writing as this past week plodded on. No, it’s been hump, hump and hump. Bad today, but good on payday. One of those kind of weeks.

Speaking of money (the root of all Republican evil), they tell me that in 3-5 business days, my total outstanding debt owed to the world will top out at exactly zero dollars and zero cents. Now that’s freedom.

I’m picturing a run-down mobile home, an acre or two, a vicious dog drooling all about, my daddy’s (yes, they tell me I actually had one) shotgun waiting for me on the rickety front stoop and my main squeeze, Opal, rustling up some measly sort of grub over the fire pit. Squirrel loaf or something.

Refrigeration? No need for any of that newfangled convenience nonsense. Out there in the sticks, boy, we’ll drink our domestic agricultural amusement aides piss warm. And don’t come a visiting me, ‘cause I’ll likely tattoo your dead ass with some homemade, hand-packed buckshot.

Nah, maybe I’ll buy me one of those Chevy Volts, a 12-G cell phone, designer sunglasses; I’ll claim to be a trisexual progressive and pretend I’m stylishly important, too.

But I digress.

I reluctantly attended a dress-up Halloween party last night, a party that turned out to be quite a bit of hearty fun. No, I did not don some silly costume imported from China. Not my style, way too expensive and probably a spontaneous combustion risk.

I mainly hovered around the fire we had burning away outside. But when I stepped into the basement bar room, there were those mercenaries from Philthydumpia getting their asses handed to them on the video advertising box. So they way I figured it, this had to be a pretty good weekend for those of you on the entitlement side of the political aisle. It goes as follows…

BIG Baseball from New York got spanked. BIG Baseball Lite from Philthydumpia got put in it’s place. Those upstarts from San Franfreako, the liberal Mecca of this fast-flailing country, are going to the World Series. And…oh, wait. Houston, we have a problem.

The Texas Rangers, the former plaything of George W. Bush are also going to the World Series. Can I get a collective Drat!?

Anyway, we now have something else to hate after BIG (insert profitable enterprise), FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the witches from the Tea Party.

Have at it, kiddies.

I used a personal day for November 3rd.

For those of you who are on the public dole, those are extra days off that I have earned. Ask your grandfather. He'll 'splain it to you while you're not busy texting.

Anyway, with this upcoming election purported to be so tilted to one side, and with the other side frenetically muddying every opponent in sight, I plan to snag a case of beer and stay up as late as it takes to watch it all unfold right here on this overpriced ‘puter gizmo.

Honestly, this one kind of cracks me up. Well, that is to say, it’ll be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that our country has come completely unglued with no Elmer's in sight.

It’s simple. The Republicans messed up damn near everything. Then the Democrats wrestled away some of the power and helped to make things a tad worse. And then the Democrats took control of the House, the Senate and the White House and took worse to a whole new maddening level.

So now the Republicans want more control so as to make things a little better. But the Democrats say we can’t go back to Republican control or things will get even worse still. Countering that assertion, the Republicans fire back that the Democrats have made things even worse than they did in the first place.

What’s not to like?

The Republicans say we need to reign in out-of-control spending, something that makes me barely mutter the words I freaking hear that. And what better way is there of significantly cutting spending than by ordering an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan?

If those people are staunchly committed to remaining in the 3rd century, who are we to take issue with that? Assign the blame to Bush. Give Obama a demerit or two. Whatever it takes. Just walk away.

Sorry and all, but 9 years of clearing the same mountains and clearing the same tunnels over and over again is the definition of insanity. Meanwhile, American boys and girls are getting chewed up and spit out for nothing. Nothing.

Pull out and let the Black Opts units have at it. Hand it off to the CIA. Fund some sort of rebel alliance when the Taliban regain control. Funnel some chocolate, guns and money in from Screwedupistan. Tell the last G.I. to exit to poison all of the wells on his way out. I dunno. Just walk away already.

And then deny entrance to the U.S. for Pakistani and Afghani nationals. The way I see it, you can’t attack a flight crew with box cutters if you’re on the outside looking in.

Than again, American politicians are not real big on admitting mistakes, so for the immediate future expect the continuing insanity to keep compounding upon the original insanity.

Idiots all.

Anyway, I thought I’d drop in for a spell today. But it’s getting to be time for some National…Football…League.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home Rule Top Ten

From the email inbox:

Top Ten Reasons to Vote NO to the Luzerne County Home Rule Charter
1. APPOINTED County Manager who is NOT elected by the people. Voters are being asked to vote to give up their right to choose the people who govern them.
2. County Controller’s power to stop payment of unauthorized invoices is ELIMINATED and the Controller’s Solicitor is ELIMINATED.
3. ELEVEN MEMBER County Council is not elected by district which will result in concentration of power in the most populated areas. Small cities, boroughs, and townships will NOT be adequately represented. Also, NO provisions for minority party representation on County Council.
4. County Council term limits create the situation where Council Members in their last term have no reason not to raise Council salary… they have NOTHING TO LOSE. County Council can raise their own pay at any time WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL. Multiply each Council pay raise by 11.
5. County Manager is NOT required to put any contracts UNDER $25,000 out to public bid. The current County purchasing policy requires that ALL CONTRACTS OVER $7,500 be placed out to public bid and be voted on IN PUBLIC. County Manager also has the ability to remove money from any unencumbered budget item without approval of County Council.
6. Although the Government Study Commission claims to promote strong ethics, they appointed themselves to a "TRANSITION TEAM" that empowers them to DRAFT ORDINANCES and SCREEN and RECRUIT the County Manager and ALL key management employees.
7. We have NO IDEA how much this new form of government will cost. Taxpayers will foot the bill no matter the cost and will be told that this is what they asked for.
8. NO PUBLIC VOTE required for MOST CONTRACTS and NO PUBLIC VOTE required for most hiring. The County Manager has supreme power over all operations without any restrictions or oversight and NO ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE TAXPAYERS..
9. Citizens have NO REALISTIC ability to amend the charter. In order to amend the charter, citizens would have to secure almost TEN THOUSAND signatures of registered voters on a petition just to get the question on the ballot. A candidate for Pennsylvania Governor or US Senator is only required to secure 2,000 signatures… STATEWIDE.
10. HOME RULE LAW provides NO RESTRICTION on how much Council can raise taxes despite what voters are being told by supporters of the charter. See 53 Pa.C.S.A. Section 2962(b). See also, Musewicz v. Cordaro, 925 A.2d 172 (2006 Pa.Cmwlth).

And the top reason...the lack of corruption in this county.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Mr. Ide along for the bumpy ride

Uh, the fool is a useful tool?

The link: Taking upbeat look at gas drilling

The excerpt: Lehman Township resident Gary Ide said too much negativity has surrounded the prospect of natural gas drilling in Luzerne County. It prompted him to start a new grassroots organization seeking to put a positive spin on the activity.

Those driving through the Back Mountain lately might have noticed the group’s work already.
Citizens for Cleaner Energy began posting yellow “Welcome EnCana” signs around the Back Mountain about a month ago. The group next plans to distribute “A New Lease on Life” stickers, which might start adorning bumpers throughout the region soon.

Ide said the group seeks to provide unbiased information and combat stereotypes about property owners who have signed leases with natural gas drillers.

Yeah, but when methane starts bubbling up all over the Back Mountain, Mr. Citizens for Gas Royalty Checks will be nowhere to be found.

Stereotypes? Okay, let's do stereotypes.

You leased your land, you want money, so you're betting, no, you're hoping that your mad dash to the natural gas cash won't result in your neighbors getting a bit ticked off when their well waters are deemed to be unusable.

Good luck with that.

If and when something really bad comes about as a result of the soon-to-be accelerated fracking in Luzerne County, Mr. Ide will be the biggest chump this side of Dimmock.

Good luck wth that.


PAWC on fracking

For what it's worth...

Pennsylvania American Water Position on Marcellus Shale Drilling

Pennsylvania American Water understands the significant potential that the Marcellus Shale gas formation represents for the citizens of Pennsylvania. Economic opportunity for communities, well-paying jobs, independence from foreign oil and an affordable energy source are important benefits, and Pennsylvania American Water joins others who want to see gas drilling successfully deliver these benefits. However, the opportunities must be balanced with concern for the environment, especially the state’s drinking water resources.

Therefore, we believe that appropriate protections are necessary, so that gas-drilling companies and associated industries act responsibly and strictly adhere to all federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations. Without strict protection and regulatory compliance, water supply and quality could be adversely affected, placing the financial risk and burden on Pennsylvania American Water and its customers for additional measures to address drilling’s effects.

Pennsylvania American Water is committed to providing quality, reliable water service to customers and will do everything in its power to prevent the degradation of our sources of drinking water. On a daily basis, our certified plant operators monitor the raw source water at our treatment facilities. In addition, where drilling is proposed near tributaries that supply our primary water sources, we conduct water sampling on a frequent basis to establish baseline data prior to any drilling activity.

Pennsylvania American Water relies on regulatory agencies, such as the DEP, Delaware River Basin Commission and Susquehanna River Basin Commission, to review permit requests from gas drillers and to properly allocate both surface and groundwater sources to all users within the basin, so that ample quantities of water are available for all users.

Pennsylvania American Water strongly supports the need for greater transparency and information-sharing in regard to Marcellus Shale drilling permits. Current laws and regulations do not provide for water suppliers to be alerted or have the opportunity to provide input during the review of permits in close proximity to our sources of supply. We have publicly supported the need for regulations and/or legislation that notifies and enables water suppliers to express comments and concerns – during the permit review process -- about the potential impact on water sources.

Furthermore, we have met with and provided input to legislators on provisions to help protect drinking water sources. These recommendations include setback requirements, prohibition of drilling under reservoirs, and mandated emergency response and contingency plans in place before drilling occurs. We have also recommended to DEP that water source replacement plans be submitted as part of the permit application process.

In the meantime, we are staying in close communication with DEP personnel and monitoring media reports to understand where drilling might occur in our watersheds. Pennsylvania American Water will continue to work cooperatively with regulatory agencies, legislators and municipalities to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to protect our water resources. Again, Pennsylvania American Water realizes that the Marcellus Shale gas reserves offer significant positive economic potential, but we must strike the right balance by ensuring that this opportunity can be achieved while protecting the environment for the next generation of Pennsylvanians.