Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

RiverFest 2010

I visited the River Common site to see is it's been updated of late. Last time I checked, it was kind of threadbare whereas the listing of upcoming events was concerned. Turns out, it has been updated.

What I was actually looking for, I found. The 2010 Wyoming Valley RiverFest will be held June 18-June 20 on both sides of the river at Nesbitt Park and River Common. There's even a link to the 2010 RiverFest Facebook page, which I am not even remotely interested in.

I once wrote that to change your perspective of the river and the valley it winds through, you really need to get out on that river. You see, it's a whole other undiscovered world when you're not restricted to staring down at it from a bridge, or skipping stones across it from it's shoreline.

Pic: Grandson Zach at 2008 RiverFest

It's teeming with wildlife and insects, which suggests that it's slowly regenerating itself, er, getting cleaner. Yes, it needs to have those combined sewage outflows replaced. Yep, the Butler Mine Tunnel is still an issue, as is acid mine drainage. But when first I paddled it, I thought, boy, if we could only address those pollution issues...if we could only help the river all the way back to it's originally pristine state, what a wonderful resource.

And what a wonderful recreational resource it indeed would be if only those pesky sources of contaminants could be eliminated. When I was a kid growing up in the Derby, CT area, we had a state park nestled right on the banks of the local river, Indian Wells, I believe. We'd pack up the Chevelle, drive a mile or two up the banks of the river and Voila!...a day at the beach.

And if we could secure the necessary monies to eliminate those sources of pollution, who's to say that scenario couldn't play itself out in this valley one day. Pack up the hybrid, drive a mile or two down to Nesbitt Park and Voila!...a day at the beach. And don't say it can't happen here. The only limit to your imagination is you. And the only limit to our ability is our imagination.

Anyway, if you've never participated in RiverFest, with all of the new amenities added to the equation, the time is definitely right to get on out there and paddle the Susquehanna River. And, no, you're not going to drown.

Wifey drives me crazy with that irrational fear of hers.

From the Citizens' Voice:

Master plan in works for W-B trail system
Published: January 30, 2010

The City of Wilkes-Barre, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association, is in the process of preparing a Trail/Greenway Master Plan for a citywide trail system.

The project is expected to not only spur eco-tourism in the region, but provide free accessible walking and bicycling opportunities within the city.

The partners are seeking public comment on the final draft map of the master plan. A brief survey and map are available for viewing at the following Wilkes-Barre locations: YMCA, 40 W. Northampton St.; and Barnes & Noble, 7 S. Main St. The map and surveys will be available for two weeks from Monday to Feb. 15.

Anyone with questions can contact Janet Sweeney of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council at 718-6507 or jsweeney@pecpa.org.

Check it out: PaGreenways.org

Funny though, Wifey said if they were planning a citywide trail system, why didn't they also consult with Wilkes-Barre's preeminent bicyclist? Namely, me.

I don't pay too much attention to the odometer anymore (not sure why), but I always top out over 3,000 miles pedaled a year. And in 2005 and 2006, I pedaled over 4,000 miles. And as we all know by now, the bike about adventures not only start in Wilkes-Barre, they go through Wilkes-Barre and are sometimes limited to Wilkes-Barre. Whatever.

Admittedly, this has been a decidedly "green" post, so please, spare me the 'Markie's gone all tree hugger on us' jokes. Truth is, I freaking hate trees. Too green.

Oh, and if you have any further questions about the upcoming river event, feel free to contact me.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pics from Knoxville

Ain't no need for no rock salt up here in Pennsylvania, but down Knoxville way...

So as to not get myself in hot water again, I'll take this slowly and get it right...
Right to left, Gage, 8, Cuzzin Frosty and Taylor, soon to be 7.
I think.

Frickin' frackin': Part 2

"You're not senate material. You're not even mayoral material."--WILK's Steve Corbett on Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, Friday, 1/29/2010

So three names are mentioned as possible successors to retiring state Senator Ray Musto, but only one of them gets ripped to shreds. Corbett's personal vendetta continues.

I suggest these two meet in a cage wearing boxing gloves, with no referee, no rules, and the proceeds go to a charity. A Wilkes-Barre-based charity, that is.

Yeah, the proceeds could go to a homeless shelter for aging hippie burnouts.

Since the moving vans are probably parked in front of Kayak Dude’s Web site, and since he provided the following news snippets concerning Marcellus gas drilling, I figured I’d post them here for your review.

Natural gas truck stopped on Bradford County road weighing 41.6 tons over weight limit

By Jason Whong •mailto:•jwhong@gannett.com • January 28, 2010, 10:45 pm

The driver of a natural gas industry service truck that was more than 41.6 tons over the weight limit on a Bradford County road received more than $25,000 in traffic citations Tuesday, according to state police in Towanda.

Police said Kevin Parsons, 44, of New Albany, Pa., was the driver of the truck found parked on Covered Bridge Road in Burlington Township. The road has a posted weight limit of 10 tons.
"We've had so many problems lately with blatant (weight limit) violations," said Cpl. Roger Stipcak.

"We've tried ... to educate them about this stuff, but now we're going to start taking them forthwith to the magistrate," Stipcak said.

Police said the truck is owned by Hodges Trucking Co. of Oklahoma City, Okla., which Chesapeake Energy lists as a subsidiary on its Web site.

"It's only going to get worse with all these gas companies coming in," Stipcak said.

And once those rural roads and posted bridges are trampled under tire and need to be rebuild, who pays for that? Not the drilling outfits. Not the owners of the leased properties. No, that would then become the problem of smallish, cash-strapped boroughs, and townships, most of which are sparely populated.

In addition, there’s a serious safety consideration. With trucks running that far in excess of the posted weight limits, you have to wonder about the maintenance of these vehicles, naming the air brakes.

Subject: more Compressor Station Hell videos

A young family in Eastern Ohio is suffering from intense noise and vibrations from the natural gas compressor stations 300 yards away from their home, they have to sleep in their basement most nights to be able to get a full night of sleep. Blowdowns occur over 20 times a week, sound levels reach above 95 dBA inside their home, windows vibrate. This has been going on since 2004, and has gotten incredibly bad since 2007. The company, Dominion, doesn't care, the government authorities are turning their heads and saying its not their jurisdiction, the burden of proof is on this young family.

New videos from the family here...


The EPA's noise department was shutdown in 1982, and the only remaining federal authority which can regulate noise is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commisssion (FERC), but FERC rules of an "average 55dBA" may not apply to the worst plant, East Ohio Dominion, because that natural gas transmission company only "cleans" and transports gas locally (by cleaning I mean the plant removes contaminants from raw gas, it is a mini-refinery, hence the intense air pollution at sites in DISH, TX). Health effects of noie are numerous but for adults include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, behavioral changes, irratability.

In fetus loud chronic noise causes birth defects. In tests of baby chicks who are subjected to loud noise the chicks do not exhibit normal peeping behavior, in young rhesus monkeys subjected to loud chronic noise the monkeys exhibit anti-social behavior. Children nor adults, nor especially pregnant women (since their child will be physically affected for their entire lives) should be living near a natural gas compressor station. For more information on health effects of noise see
nonoise.org for more information on laws regarding noise and other video links regarding compressor stations please see my previous post on this topic, check out nonoise.org, or contact me (nastassja)

A readers comment first, then the story...name deleted by MC.

Explosion or blowout? If that "tubing" that was uplifted was drilling
pipe, it is in 30' lengths and weighs 500 lbs. From the account, no
telling how many lengths were in the string that lifted, but there can
be a lot of energy released in a blowout. Blowouts can more
destructive than explosions. Assuming that Chesapeake is correct that
uplift was brief, it is possible the uplift was stopped when the
blowout preventer kicked in.

On Jan 28, 10:01 pm, Lisa Wright


The incident involving a Chesapeake energy natural gas well this morning in Tuscarora Township was not an explosion, a company spokesman said early this afternoon.

Brian Grove, Chesapeake's director of corporate development in Towanda, in a prepared statement, described what happened as "a brief but forceful uplift of tubing." He specifically denied that the phenomenon was an explosion.

Three employees of a contract company were transported to a hospital, he said, but none had critical injuries.

"There was no release of any materials that could be harmful to the environment and the situation presents no danger to the public. This is all the information that is available at this time," Grove said in the statement.

According to transmissions over Wyoming County 911 communications at the time of the incident, an explosion took place at the Mowry well site of Chesapeake Energy on Clapper Hill in Tuscarora Township.

One person was thrown in the air 30 feet, and suffered back pain and injuries to his wrist and another individual sustained back pain, according to preliminary reports.

Emergency crews were called out, according to the scanner transmission, but there was no visible fire. Laceyville Fire Chief Scott Fisher refused to comment at mid-morning, saying he would need to finish his report first.

Jim Vajda. Bradford County's Emergency Management Agency director was re[ported on the scene and unavailable for immediate comment.
This seems to be the ‘norm when there are incidents at gas drilling sites. No one seems available for comment. And no one wants to comment. The EPA usually releases a noncommittal cookie cutter comment. And the gas company involved says, ‘All is well. Have a cookie.’

This would be a nice thing to live right next to, especially when you consider that after the neighbors lease their lands away in hopes of becoming modern day Beverly Hillbillies, you would be powerless to stop it.

Photos of gas flares/ Flaring a Marcellus Gas Well

All is well. Have a cookie and a glass of tainted water.


Friday, January 29, 2010

A retraction

One of the biggest no-nos, probably the biggest pitfall of all of the many (literary?) pitfalls for bloggers is the publishing of something that is not true.

The thing is, if you endeavor to blog about others, you had better have your facts straight. And if you do not have your facts straight, it can lead to repercussions from which there is no escape or return.
Anyway, a couple of days ago, I listed my only granddaughter's age as being 5. In actuality, she is real, real close to turning 7-years-old.

And I am wholeheartedly sorry for the undo duress and confusion I'm told it caused her. Gee, with school, and little league and kickball, the last thing she needs is me causing her stress.

Tyler, sorry about that.
But before you disown me, consider this, if you will.

I'm old and senile. And if that's not bad enough, I am a fiscal Conservative and a social Centrist leaning slightly Conservative. And by every known measurable standard (template), that means I have no idea about what I'm talking about on any given issue on any given day.
Hell, I'm so completely out of it, I still admire Ronald Reagan's unshakable optimism and his unequivocally steadfast belief that America was indeed truly special. Proof that I'm just not with "it."

Again, I'm sorry Tyler.

(Editor's note: Please excuse the inside joke. While I did get her age wrong completely by accident, I deliberately got her name wrong. It's Taylor, not Tyler.)

A question for Tom Leighton

Earlier today, somebody asked me if I thought Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton would seek to replace retiring state Senator Ray Musto.

I told him that I have no idea. So he encouraged me to get Leighton on the blower, since he knows that, on most days, I probably can.

Anyway, the question was a direct result of the following newspaper story.

From the Times Leader:

Full story: Three hope to replace retiring state senator

Three big names in Luzerne County politics have risen to the top of the discussion about who will replace retiring state Sen. Ray Musto in the 14th Senatorial District.

State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, Wilkes-Barre Democratic Mayor Tom Leighton and Republican Luzerne County Commissioner Steve Urban all have expressed interest in the seat – at least to the extent that they are conducting meetings to determine the viability of their chances.
Here’s the scoop.

Even if I got Tom Leighton on the phone today and asked him if he was going to run for the senate seat, he’d more than likely give me that trademark evasive answer of his, “We’ll see.” That’s what he usually says when he doesn’t want to answer questions about the future, especially his future.

If I were to ask him a question today, it’d go as follows:

Tom, could you better serve the residents of Wilkes-Barre as the mayor of the city, or as a freshman state senator?

Personally, I’m inclined to believe that Wilkes-Barre would be better served if Tom Leighton were to decline the sudden invite to the state square dance, and stick with the (bottom) line dance here in Wilkes-Barre.

Them’s my thoughts on all of that developing stuff.

What else?

Uh, as of this morning’s county commissioner get-together, the proposed county property tax upsurge has increased from 10% to 15% percent. Nice.

Anybody shocked by that?
And, what’s this?

County Controller Walter Griffith is questioning why a few employees of the county sheriff’s department were paid $190,000 in additional fees for performing what could only be called sheriff-like duties.

Apparently, some of these people even doubled their base salaries by serving legal documents on unsuspecting civilians. You know, by doing something or other--keeping busy--when there were no suspects to be escorted in shackles.

My only question is, do I have to take a civil service test to eventually partake of this overly generous cash cow?

Sign me up, baby!

Give me my gun, my taser, my lunch money and my double-secret, extra paycheck.


KD goes mainstream

Ask and you shall receive.

From the email inbox:

Move over


Yep, you got it. The Susquehanna River Sentinel is in the process of moving.

Welcome aboard, dude.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wall Street endorses Kanjorski


Breaking news: Wall Street has endorsed Paul Kanjorski over Corey O’Brien in the Democratic Primary for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District.

While the nation was occupied with the State of the Union address last night, Kanjorski quietly filed his FEC report and disclosed raising $233,141 last quarter to end 2009 with $974,543 cash on hand.

Why did Paul Kanjorski attempt to bury his fundraising report in the State of the Union news cycle? Because during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Wall Street isn’t just collecting record bonuses – it’s helping Paul Kanjorski set records of his own:

Rank: 1 -- Percentage of contributions received from financial, insurance and real estate industries, 2010 cycle (54%)

Rank: 1 -- Percentage of contributions received from financial, insurance and real estate industries, career (44%)

Rank: 1 -- Contributions from Credit & Finance industry, career ($339,896)

Rank: 1 -- “Industry Favorite” – Mortgage bankers and brokers, 2010 cycle

Rank: 2 -- “Industry Favorite” – Insurance, 2010 cycle

Rank: 3 -- “Industry Favorite” – Credit Unions, 2010 cycle

Rank: 4 -- Contributions from Wall Street, career ($3,963,741)

Rank: 4 -- Contributions from Insurance industry, career ($995,186)

Rank: 7 -- Contributions from Securities & Investment industry, career ($814,618)

Rank: 8 -- Contributions from Commercial Banking industry, career ($353,920)

Rank: 11 -- Contributions from Real Estate industry, career ($660,634)

Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, www.OpenSecrets.org/capital_eye/finance.php, January 28, 2010. Ranking is among Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Justin F. Carroll
Campaign Manager
Corey O'Brien for Congress
(570) 343-1111

Obama and the F word

State of the Union

Well, I watched it. At least, some of it. What I saw was a petulant, arrogant, condescending and oft-chastising know-it-all who's first year as president was known more for his multitudinous amounts of television appearances, his multitudinous number of feel-good meaningless speeches and his too-many-to-count golfing forays.

But when he uttered the F word, when he used that word, off went the television.

Your first clue that a politician is lying through their teeth is when they start yammering on and on about how they're fighting (the big one, the F word) for us. They are not "fighting" for us. They're fighting for the folks who keep their campaign war chests stuffed aplenty. And they're always fighting for their jobs, preparing for their next re-election challenge.

So, to Obama's claim that he's going to fight for us, I would ask, so what took you so long? Why did it take over a year for it to occur to you to fight for us?

Oh, well, you see, the mounting upset losses at the polls, coupled with the horrible polling numbers, throw in the growing legions of unemployed, plus the simmering voter discontent means that Obama has to make with the head of the party bit during an election year.

He's not fighting for you. And he's not fighting for me or any of mine. He's fighting to save his party an awful bloodletting come November. Therein, he's also fighting hard to save his inexperienced, pathetic self. It's all self-centered, populist prevarication.

A jobs bill? A jobs bill? What Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will brainstorm for an hour and a half and then introduce legislation that will create millions upon millions of jobs? They had a bullet-proof, a filibuster-proof majority and couldn't rework the health care system. What would make anyone believe that those two blithering nincompoops could capably manage a rubber dog sh*t manufacturing plant?

This is so much complete BS, it's hard to fathom.

Yeah, a jobs bill. Allow me to guess. They'll offer incremental tax breaks to anyone willing to build solar-powered vibrators, or perhaps wind-powered DVD players. More offers of useless, meaningless "green" tax breaks, but not a mention of what would rel ally stimulate the economy--some certainty. Some predictability. Confidence. Or even an administration that wasn't so completely and outwardly hostile towards the private sector and big business.

Much like the stimulus package before it, anything of actual substance they put forward will be heavily slanted towards benefitting that important left-leaning voting bloc--unionized labor.


He's fighting for you. And he's fighting for me.

Gee, I feel better already.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Echo to KD, come in KD

K-Dude, with our water supplies currently under assault as they are, perhaps it's time that you consider an electronic upgrade of sorts.

If your message is important (which it is), reaching as many people as fast and as easy as possible seems to make sense. At least to me it does.

Don't take my word for it...

D.B. Echo has left a new comment on your post "State of the Union: A "green job" in every pot":

Mark, I wish you could work with Kayak Dude to make his site a little more - well, if not user-friendly, then at least reference-ready. Permalinks, RSS feeds, stuff like that. I can't find a way to link directly to a specific post, and I would love to get a notification whenever he's done a new post.

That one from today is definitely worth sharing. Do any media outlets know the location where Kayak Dude took those pictures? Somebody's gotta be held accountable for this - but if people don't know about it, nothing will happen.

Dude, what say you?

Want to reach a wider audience?


State of the Union: A "green job" in every pot

“This president (Obama) won the presidency under false pretenses.”--Sue Henry, WILK, earlier today.

Damn straight, girl!

Read only in the event that you are a girl named Sue: (Please don’t tell Nancy I called you a girl.)

Damn straight, woman!

The pretender is long on promises, woefully short on results. The faker is all style and no substance. In short, he’s the rhetorical champion of the political world, but has no practical, useable experience of any sort.

Anybody but Bush. Isn’t that what the easily-led told us last year, anybody but Bush? Let's amend that to read, anybody but the bust.

Practically every news outlet and poliblogger within spitting distance has reported that State Senator Raphael “Ray” Musto is retiring from the State Senate.

From the Times Leader:

State Senator Raphael “Ray” Musto (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) announced today that he will not seek re-election and retire from the Senate at the end of his current term."

After nearly 40 years of public service to the citizens of the Northeast and seven terms serving the 14th Senatorial District, it is time to retire from the Senate," Musto said in a release.

Being the complete surprise that this development is, the result should be a political free-for-fall for that long spoken-for seat of his.

I guess the promotions in the Wilkes-Barre fire department won’t go through his office anymore. Or those state-level EMS coordinator jobs either. Whatever.

Don’t matter none too much to me.

Gene Stilp is at it again.

Short and sweet, his latest crime-fighting foray, a corruption tip line from which he‘ll forward the tips right to the investigating Feds.

Lackawanna County Courthouse Crime Watch
P.O. Box 20133
Scranton, PA 18503.

I love it. I do.

Here’s a good question posted by Kayak Dude.

Who would allow natural gas-drilling operations to be set up in an unprotected flood plain? He says it better. Plus, he’s captured some rather telling images.

Follow the link.

Susquehanna River Sentinel

Finally, we have the State of the Union address slated for later on tonight.

I, I, I am going to watch it, even though I already know it will be a complete waste of my time.

For example, it was reported today on WILK that one of the initiatives to be announced will be tax incentives for those who invest in wind turbines and solar energy. I kid you not.

In other words, new “green jobs.” In still other words, street parlance if you will…no new fu>king jobs!

What is it with this guy?

Tone-deafness? Arrogance? Ideological stubbornness? Or a clueless disconnect?

Repeat after me…


Buh-bye, Oblahblah. Don’t let the unfulfilled hope & change bit bite you in the ass on your way out. Or should I say, bite you all over again.

Get back on your Trojan Horse and get out of town by sundown.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Legos by the pound

I love Legos.

I do. I really do.

I honestly love spreading out on the carpet and playing Legos with my grandkids, just like I once did with their parents, their aunts and their uncles before them...my kids.

Most of all, I love my grandkids. Even the three maniacal ones.

Picture: Taylor 5, Gage-8-years-old

Anyway, the point of this post?

Well, my son-in-law found that there are people selling Legos by the pound on Ebay. And since I think we'll all agree that store-bought Legos are on the pricey side, here's your opportunity to purchase Legos by the boatload, and rather cheaply, too.

And to those of you that will not admit to playing with Legos even at your rapidly advanced age,
I say fess up already.

Everybody likes Legos.



From the email inbox...

January 25, 2010: O’Brien Campaign Gains Momentum in PA-11Lackawanna County

Commissioner Corey O’Brien raised over $200,000 in 2009 for his race to win the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. According to his most recent FEC report, O’Brien raised $206,150 in 2009 and ended the year with $109,456 cash on hand.

“Corey is one of the most well-funded primary challengers in the country,” said Ken Christensen, O’Brien’s Washington, D.C.-based fundraising consultant. “These fundraising numbers demonstrate just how hard Corey is working to replace old-style politics with new style leadership in PA-11."

O’Brien is well ahead of the pace set by past congressional challengers in the region. In his first congressional race, Congressman Chris Carney had only raised $65,876 by Dec. 31st. Lou Barletta, who narrowly lost to Paul Kanjorski in 2008, had not raised any money by the end of 2007 and did not announce his campaign until February 2008.

O’Brien has relied heavily on individual “Main Street” donors and received contributions from over 350 individuals. These numbers stand in sharp contrast to Kanjorski, who has relied on special interest PACs for 68% of his contributions this election cycle.

“Fundraising reports say a lot about who is supporting a candidate," said O'Brien. "I am proud to have the support of over 350 individuals from right here on Main Street. Unfortunately, my opponent continues to fund his campaign with special interest money from his friends on Wall Street. Nobody believes that he can regulate Wall Street when he has taken more money from the finance and credit industries than any other Democrat in the House.”

Many Democrats have criticized the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision, which will allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. While this decision is a windfall for corporate-backed politicians like Kanjorski, O’Brien has vowed to continue to raise the funds necessary to win the race and return this district to the people.

Justin F. Carroll
Campaign Manager
Corey O'Brien for Congress
(570) 343-1111

Sounds as if Uncle Paulie Kanjo is gonna have a fight on his hands. Uncle Paul, better not count on riding Obama's coattails this time around.

Luzerne County GOP news...

There is a limited number of tickets available for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner.
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP via e-mail or by phone 570-208-4671 as soon as possible.

You MUST specify your entrée choice at the time you make your reservation.

Friday, Feb. 5, 2010
Ramada Hotel, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Keynote Speaker: Gov. Tom Ridge
Special Honoree: Patrick J. Solano

Dinner 6 p.m.
Tickets:$50 each
Entrée Choices: Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus, Sauteed Chicken Francaise or Grilled Filet of Salmon
Fresh Fruit Cup, Garden Salad, Stuffed Baked Potato, Vegetable, Dessert, Rolls & Butter, Coffee, Hot & Iced Tea, Soda
(Please specify entrée choice when making your reservation)
Tables of 10 may be purchased for $500 with the table host receiving a complimentary ticket to a special reception with Gov. Ridge

Club GOP Reception, 5-6 p.m.
FREE to all Club GOP members
(with purchase of a dinner ticket)
Meet & Greet with Gov. Tom Ridge. Complimentary beer, soda and wine
Not a member? Call 208-4671 to join

Call 208-4671 or e-mail lcgop@luzernegop.org for more information or for details on purchasing an ad in the commemorative program booklet.

Could you picture me, moi, hanging out with Tom Ridge?

MC: Dude, what's up?

Ridge: Excuse me?

Monday, January 25, 2010

WILK watch?

A local internet star is born?


Here's a reader's comment I snagged from The Lu Lac Political Letter, a local blog written by David Yonki, who's very own readers believe him to be a shill for WILK, a local talk radio oufit found at 980 AM, and at 103.1 FM.

WILKWatcher said...

interestingly in a post post you would not publish my comments concerning your man corbett. seems i wasn't the only one thinking that way


12:51 PM

Welcome to the revolution, newbie.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further...

WILK Watcher

Yikes! This could be fun to watch. At least, I'm hoping.


Corey O'Brien "A New Vision" video

Today Corey O’Brien’s campaign released the first commercial in the 2010 Democratic primary for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District.

The commercial is currently airing on cable television in all five counties in the Congressional district.Corey believes that the Massachusetts Senate election was a wake-up call to Democrats, who must ensure that they put forth the strongest candidate in order to retain PA-11 as a Democratic seat. Corey’s record of fiscal responsibility and ethics reform as Lackawanna County Commissioner, as well as his vision for the short- and long-term economic growth of the region, put him in the best position to win this fall.

The commercial can be seen on our website at

http://www.obrien2010.com/news or on

YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axVlgNINdnk.

Justin Carroll
Campaign Manager
Corey O’Brien for Congress
(570) 343-1111

A bribe is a bribe is a bribe

I found the following story at Fox News.com, but being an Associated Press story, it’s already made it’s way from sea to rising sea.

Here’s the link:

Corruption Rampant in Pennsylvania Coal Country

Coal? What the fudge? Like, coal was king before I was born. Coal was dethroned and beheaded before I was born. What's up with the oft-used but thoroughly tired coal bit already?

Here’s an excerpt:

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — After a six-year run in the NFL, Greg Skrepenak came home to Pennsylvania and parlayed his name recognition and hometown popularity into a seat on the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners.

He'd campaigned as a reformer. It turns out he was anything but. Prosecutors charged him last month with accepting $5,000 in gifts from a developer seeking public financing of a condominium project. He is scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday.

Another day, another fallen politician in the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, where FBI agents and federal prosecutors have spent the past year rooting out government corruption in a hardscrabble region known for its pay-to-play politics, suspicion of outsiders and resistance to political change.

Twenty-three people in Luzerne County — including a school superintendent, three county judges, four courthouse officials, and five school board members — have been charged so far in a variety of unrelated schemes.

Anyway, that’s not the fun part. Here’s the fun part…

Most of the charges filed over the past year involve public officials accepting cash or gifts — a $1,500 suit, for example — in exchange for helping contractors win government work or some other benefit. A few officials are charged with the outright theft of taxpayer dollars. The FBI is also looking into allegations that candidates for public school teaching positions paid bribes to school board members to land jobs.

"Things have been like this for so long that I don't think many people see a lot of wrong in what they've done," said Skrepenak, 39, a former offensive lineman who played for the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.

"I believe any elected official of the last five years is at risk" of prosecution, he added. "I don't think many of them truly know what they can and cannot do."

You know, enough with the feigned ignorance already!

I learned this lesson as a 20-year-old assistant manager getting his first taste of inventorying and ordering. If a sales rep offers you a premium--a radio, a television or what have you--provided that you order X number of hundreds of cases of a premium product per year from his company exclusively, that is a bribe. And as it was, it was strictly forbidden by company policy.
If I benefit as a result of an order placed with any purveyor, but there’s really no benefit to the company or it’s customers, that’s my first hint that it‘s unethical.

I knew that at 20. I knew that before I could grow a full beard. I knew that before MTV launched on Peace’s 2nd birthday.

Does this guy honestly believe that we’re stupid enough to fall for this line of deceitful thought, that the great preponderance of the recently indicted didn’t know what they were up to wouldn’t pass the legal smell test?

That’s insulting, that’s infuriating and that’s just flat-out poppycock.

And with that, I’m of the opinion that arrogance is running just as rampant in Culm County as is corruption.

Call it what you will, Greg, but a bribe is a bribe is a bribe.

You knew, Skrep. You knew.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Social networking (jerkin' off) in the workplace

"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry, and they're frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."--Barack Oblahblah

Yeah, Bush did it. There’s his entire repertoire in one 3-word sentence. Bush did it.

The man is becoming delusional.

Was anyone as surprised (to put it mildly) as I was to read this one?

From the Citizens' Voice:

Urban readies run for lieutenant governor
Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban confirmed Friday he is preparing to run for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary election on May 18.

"I'm planning on it," Urban said, adding an official announcement could come "maybe next week."

Urban expects about 15 candidates will seek the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. The first day to circulate nomination petitions is Feb. 16, and nominating petitions must be filed by March 9 to secure a spot on the primary election ballot.

If you follow this link to his under-construction Web site and read his bio, you’d have to conclude that he’s got quite the impressive resume. Even if you’re one of his detractors, you’d have to concede that he’s got quite the impressive resume.

It’s just that the timing of this move is awfully peculiar. At least, for me it is.

Luzerne County is embroiled in a corruption scandal that will surely result in a screenplay one day. And Luzerne County, for all intents and purposes, is bankrupt.

And as a county commissioner seeking to be the next lieutenant governor of the state, those are selling points?

It must be me.

What, are you guys--Gort--Lu Lac--blogswarming me?


Jeez, we should be disagreeing about important stuff like who really killed JFK and why. Or how about how JFK’s ill-advised executive order allowing the creation of public sector unions has been draining the economic life out of our communities ever since. Good, hard-hitting stuff like that.

Basically, we’ve got two grown men defending the ‘rights’ of other grown men to goof off at work. That’s it in a nutshell, correct? You guys are telling me that surfing the Web while drawing pay and benefits is an acceptable practice?

And “social networking?” Um, last I checked, a social event was something that was done after work, not during the work day. As in, face-to-face.

And “social networking’ by adults? That’d be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that the Internet is dominated by the nameless and faceless that all too often pretend to be somebody, or something they are not. Adults really need to be social networking while on the clock?

I just sat through my annual performance review with my supervisor. It’s an expansive undertaking that leaves no aspect of my job uncovered. As always, I was rated far, far above average. And the thing I’m most proud of is that I consistently deliver to my company a dollar figure per hour worked that is far, far above what any of my coworkers have achieved. This year it wasn’t even close. It was a rout.

And how does one become the productivity champ? Well, there’s not enough time and space to cover all of that here today, but I can tell you that you don’t set productivity records (as I did this year) by sitting in front of a computer and playing with all of your pretend friends.

Personally, I have absolutely nothing against Len Piazza. As a matter of fact, I think he’s done an outstanding job of modernizing his department. And I also think he’s made some very wise rulings when questions or discrepancies have arisen regarding certain aspects of the voting task at hand.

With that said, I wholeheartedly reject the asinine notion that’s it’s somehow acceptable to be playing on the Internet on company time. If it were my employee, I’d sit them down and ask them point blank what they want and need more, social networking, or a job.

And I also take issue with this misguided notion that since somebody addresses the demands of the job after hours, they should be allowed leeway, some slack while officially on the job.
A management position of any importance often requires after hours phone calls and what have you. Trust me, I know. And nowhere is it written in anyone’s job description that they can goof off today because they were bothered after hours last night. And for anyone to suggest otherwise should eliminate said person from consideration for any management positions that may come open.

In addition, the private sector produced things that are measurable. And the public sector pushes piles of paper around while trying to figure out how to further hamstring and overtax the private sector. And it seems as if you guys are suggesting that it would be okay for the private sector to mimic certain destructive and unproductive aspects of the public sector. And if that’s the case, if I’m reading this right, you guys couldn’t be more off base if you tried.

And rather than belabor this thing any further, I say let’s post our resumes and see who’s got the business acumen and management experience necessary to be determining who should be allowed to screw off and when.

I’ve hired, fired, trained and promoted more people than I care to remember. And I really don’t remember excusing people when they purposely chose to be unproductive. That probably played a huge part of why I always showed a handsome profit.

Now tell me, how’s the bottom line of the county government looking these days? In my estimation, there’s too much social networking and the like going on when the situation clearly calls for brainstorming.

But who am I to chastise people who see the government as the end-all, be-all?


Friday, January 22, 2010

Markie: Wowing readers since 1962

A few years ago, I was all agog when my then-3-year-old grandson, Gage Andrew, was quoted in a speech given by one of those American Rivers environmentalists in town to vehemently oppose Congressman Paul Kanjorski's proposed deflatable dam.

While out on the river some months earlier, Gage Andrew was asked what he thought of the Susquehanna River, since he was paddling the river for the very first time. (Okay, Kayak Dude and I were doing the paddling.) When queried about the river on that rain-soaked day, Gage panned his head from side to side, looked at the curious River Rat and said, "It's chocolate water."

Yesterday, my daughter Peace sent me yet another of those ancient news clippings she unearthed from the muddy crawl space of the Internet, the Google News Archives.

And when I excitedly read the story from the "kidnapping" days as they were called by my family, I almost blew a fuse to see that I, at three and a half years old, was quoted in this particular news piece.

Mrs. Cour said she plans to go to Pennsylvania with Mark to live at her parents house. During the course of yesterday's hearing the child, playing with a brightly colored plastic train, interrupted the conversation saying, "I want to go home. I want to go to grandma's house."

Wow! Quoted in the newspapers before I was old enough to attend kindergarten at Ferry School, Shelton, Connecticut? Name me another star-struck blogger who can make that claim with a straight face...first quoted in 1962.

See that? People have been reading what I've had to say since 1962.

Yes, I admit, that's a stretch.

Anyway, at first, I blabbed to Wifey, "Hey! I was quoted in the newspapers even earlier, even younger than Gage was." I was only three and a half, but Gage was...

Oh, that's right. He uttered those quoted words of his a week shy of his third birthday. Rats!

Never mind.

In retrospect, I guess I got what I wanted. I mean, after a few stops, stops in New York state, in Florida, in Maine and in Connecticut; I'm dug in here in Wilkes-Barre like an engorged tick but a few blocks away from where my grandma's house once stood.

I know I had spent some time with my father when we were on the lam from the cops. I know he sought custody of me. And so I'm left to assume that he was at least somewhat fond of me, and he probably treated me well.

But to stand between a toddler and his grandma?

I know he's a certified genius and all, a freaking rocket scientist, but...what was he thinking?

*Pic taken in St John's parking lot, Nord End

Local GOP news

Lincoln Day Dinner Essay Contest sponsored by the Young Republicans

· Write an essay with the title: “Why Abraham Lincoln is an American Hero”
· Maximum Length: 250 words (about one page)
· Eligibility: all students grades 6-12 who reside in Luzerne County
· Deadline: 12 noon on Friday, January 29, 2010 to luzerneyr@luzernegop.org
· Prize: Essay winner will read his/her essay to the guests at this year’s Lincoln Day dinner with keynote speaker Governor Tom Ridge on Friday, February 5. The winner and parent(s) will receive free admission to the event ($150 value)
· All essays must be submitted via email by the deadline and not exceed the word limit. Each essay submission must include student name, parent name(s), home address, and home phone number. In the title box write “Lincoln Day Essay.”
· Winners will be notified on Saturday, January 30 by both email and phone.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Culm County 24, Lackawanted County 2

Okay, so Cook County, Illinois has got nothing on us.

At this point, I think we’re all in agreement on that. We do agree that Culm County is the most corrupt place this side of the nearest ACORN office, yes?

So what’s this bunk published by the Citizens’ Voice today?

Feds plan to seek indictments of Munchak, Cordaro

Federal prosecutors intend to seek indictments next month against Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak and former Commissioner Bob Cordaro from a federal grand jury investigating public corruption, according to a letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The government's plans are spelled out in a letter signed Jan. 14 by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorna N. Graham, who said prosecutors intend to present U.S. v. Robert Cordaro and A.J. Munchak to a federal grand jury on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

What’s that? A challenge to our corruption supremacy?

We’ve had, what, 23, or was it 24 elected and appointed officials caught up in the federal corruption probe here in Luzerne County? 3 judges. A sitting president judge. A former president judge. And then the piece de resistance, a sitting county commissioner.

Pretty tough to top, wouldn’t you think?

But in Lackawanna County, it seems the Feds are starting at the top and working their way down from there. Right out of the gate, they seek to topple a sitting commissioner as well as a former commissioner?

Trying to upstage us, are they?

Since the corruption probe is now confirmed to have spread to our neighboring county to the north, we need a standardized scoring system as Culm County’s title of America’s Most Corrupt Place now seems to be in play. So no matter the rank, title or position of the indicted, we’ll award one point per indictment.

And the way I see it, we’ve got a sizeable, but nervous lead over that gangly-looking expansion team to the north, 24-2.

So at the end of the first quarter, it's Culm County 24, Lackawanted County 2.

And the battle rages on.

From a local blog:

4. Piazza is a victim of the theory that everybody under the dome is dirty or corrupt. He has done an incredible job of disseminating information to campaigns and the media. And he has not favored one group over the other. Len Piazza should not be pilloried in the community for social networking during the day when he is at work. To do so is to make a mountain out of a molehill and defame the character and work ethic of a good man.

Au contraire!

At my place of employment, he'd be written up in triplicate the first time. Terminated the second time.

I happen to work for a real company, a company that turns a huge profit, a company that measures the hours worked by the employee versus the sales generated by said employee. A company that is not real big on paying people to play.

Or, you could say, I work for a private sector Fortune 500 company. You know, the real world.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Massachusetts analysis: Republicans are stupid

I was content while turning in last night, content in the knowledge that the democrats had done the unthinkable and lost control of “Ted Kennedy’s “ seat in the U.S. Senate.

I was content because I figured that with the Dem’s 60-seat filibuster-proof majority gone up in smoke, perhaps the business community could start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel that is this economic depression.

The democrats have now lost the governorships of both New Jersey and Virginia, lost the Kennedy family’s favorite family heirloom, had two long-entrenched high profile senators walk away from reelection bids, and have even had first-term Blue Dogs say ‘the hell with this.’

And, again, I went to bed thinking that the under-fire private sector has had more and more reasons of late to be optimistic about our future. More and more reasons to believe that investments, production, hiring and profits may be possible yet again, now that the undeniably necessary correction of the gross overreaction of November 2008 is finally afoot.

Without the looming threat of a health care reform fiasco, without economically hamstringing nonsense such as Cap & Trade, and with Democrats suddenly feeling like an endangered species in mid-term 2010, perhaps an end could be in sight to the massive economic downturn. Perhaps the writing is now on the wall, that anti-capitalist rhetoric and confiscatory levels of taxation does not make for a vibrant economy.

But today, all I’ve heard and read from the democrats and their faithful minions was crude smugness, unearned arrogance, name-calling, and unbelievably, finger-pointing at the other side of the political aisle at the thought of the loss of the health care reform push.

They had a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority and couldn’t pass a reform bill. And now with Scott Brown’s unexpected ascendance to the Senate, the blame for a lack of health care reform legislation lies with the republicans?

Um, that’s patently absurd. That’s what they call denial. And denial would be bad enough if it were not for the fact that the leftist types are also lying to themselves as well as the electorate.
Sorry, lefties, but your arrogance belies your inherent stupidity.

How can you dare blame your perceived political paralysis on anyone but yourselves while in possession of that previously mentioned 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? The republicans did it? The republicans need to embrace bipartisanship? That’s all you’ve got while staring a possible political tsunami straight in the face? Face it. You had it within your reach and you blew it.

Whoever had it last broke it. Right?

This following excerpt I snagged from a local blog pretty much sums up everything I’ve heard today.

I’ll not link to said banal blog, but do not believe that to be any reluctance on my part to engage in a pissing match gone electronic brawl, because no such reluctance exists.

Anyway, this excerpt sums it all up very concisely. All of the spin, the name-calling and the utter arrogance on parade designed to deflect blame for the mounting and staggering losses of the party that had the super majority, that supposedly had a surplus of political capitol--the party that blew it all--the democrats.

And that’s what happened in Massachusetts yesterday, when Democrats spat on Ted Kennedy’s grave by losing his seat to a Playgirl Bunny, Teabagging, Right-wing half-wit. So what does that say about the Democratic party? The Democratic Party is the party of complacent, null-singing, hand-holding, cowards who find it easier to capitulate to a never-ending stream of absurd Republican and conservative demands rather than stand up for what’s right, what they believe in, and what’s better for the poor people duped into believing the opposite.

Catch that rubbish?

If you believe the opposite of what the hard-core leftists believe…you are a poor, poor duped person. You know, you are a stupid fu>k.

Nothing arrogant about any of that, is there? Your either with us, or you’re a stupid fu>k. That’s the message the left-leaning keep putting out. That’s one hell of an example of being oooooooh sooooooo bipartisan.

And yet, the left-leaning are now stunned by their suddenly mounting losses at the ballot box. Gee whiz, they just can’t imagine why the “poor…duped” voters are rejecting them when they come baring enormous gifts direct from the federal teat that can never be paid for.

Even while the systematic wake-up calls are being delivered, they remain arrogantly self-assured in their steadfast tone-deafness.

There’s obviously no shortage or poor, duped people running loose right about now. But despite the media template, despite the blogs singing to their respective choirs, despite the arrogance, and despite the overreach--they ain’t republicans.

Sez me.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Corey O'Brien e-mail

This just in...

Dear Mark:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 -- Earlier today, Paul Kanjorski was quoted in The Times-Tribune as saying that “[i]t is vitally important now that we show the American people that we are having success on Main Street as well as Wall Street.”

Paul Kanjorski continues to demonstrate just how out of touch he is with his district. People in PA-11 continue to struggle through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. People are afraid of losing their jobs, small business profits are down, unemployment is up and Paul Kanjorski continues to focus on protecting his Wall Street friends.

When it comes to legislation, the devils are in the details. Paul Kanjorski would like us to believe that he is fighting Wall Street, but don’t take the bait. He has raised more money from Wall Street than any other member of Congress. Wall Street doesn’t fund its enemies, they fund their friends. Don’t be fooled.

Support Corey O’Brien for Congress. If you want to end our commitment to Wall Street and replace it with a commitment to rebuilding Main Street, visit www.obrien2010.com.


Justin F. Carroll
Campaign Manager

My turn...

I'll take no issue with any of that.

And I see Uncle Paulie Kanjo thinks it's a marvelous idea to villainize, I mean, punish Wall Street and the TARP banks by way of extra taxation. Meanwhile, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the institutions that more or less caused the near economic collapse by way of sub-prime mortgages continue their pre-crash practices unabated.

And the message?

Private sector bad, public sector good.

In other words, yet another unavoidable signal to the private sector to batten down the hatches and wait out the economic storm of uncertainty that is the Obama Administraion. It's become patently obvious that Obama should have taken Economics 101 back in the day when he was studying the works of anti-capitalist radicals.


P.S.--It's the economy, stupid.

Breaking News on WILK: Boredom at Penn Place

So now we’ve got a temporary judge on loan from another county charged by the state police with assaulting his wife.

His name is not important to me. I had never heard of him before Luzerne County judges started lining up en masse for all-expense paid trips to federal prisons. And there’s a better than average chance I’ll never hear his name again after his case is adjudicated.

Well, that‘s assuming, of course, that this assault charge is not merely the beginning of a lengthy crime spree on his part. In this county, whereas the conduct of judges goes, all bets are off.

All of which makes me wonder what’s in the gin & tonic over at the courthouse. I’m sorry. A senior moment there.

I meant, I wonder what’s in the water over at the courthouse.

My bad.

Breaking news (5:52 PM): Boredom at Penn Place

According to WILK’s Steve Corbett (as of this very moment), our voter services director, Len Piazza, posted the following on his Facebook page earlier today:

(Paraphrasing): ‘I’m bored. Lots to do. But I’m procrastinating.’

Predictably, Corbett has gone all apoplectic on this one, and he is calling for an investigation of county policy whereas playing around on the internet on county time is concerned. Er, that is, playing around on taxpayer-funded time.

I’ll betcha a 40 ounce Utica Club that the county code (that expansive gray area bigger than the universe itself) does not speak directly to county department heads tossing off on county time.

Remember, department heads are not even required to work the ‘norm…a 40-hour week. So who’s to say they can’t dilly dally on the internet, enjoy a mid-morning dalliance with twin girls and then down a cocktail or three during their 2-hour lunch?

What say you, commissioners? Care to address that one via Twitter?

Um, ah, well, the county personnel policies don’t seem to cover any of that.

So, while we find that behavior wholly inappropriate, the taxpayers can go fu>k themselves with lubed spindles. Uh, again, that is.

Thank you for your interest in county government, and thank you for interrupting the boredom.

This one is, how do you say? Oh yeah, it’s complete bullspit!

From today's Times Leader:

W-B, code officer see suit over property

SCRANTON – The owner of a Wilkes-Barre rental property has filed a federal lawsuit against Wilkes-Barre and city Code Enforcement Officer Frank Kratz, alleging Kratz shut down the property based on his personal animosity and disdain for the owner.

The suit, filed by attorney William Abraham, claims Kratz improperly entered a four-unit rental building owned by Kiran Patel at 82-84 Laurel St. on Jan. 17, 2008, and condemned the structure, forcing the tenants to vacate the premises.

The suit, filed Friday in federal court, is the second lawsuit Patel has filed against the city in relation to actions it has taken against properties owned by Patel.

Patel currently has a suit pending in federal court that alleges Kratz failed to provide Patel proper notification before he shut down the former Red Carpet Inn in 2008. The city and Patel recently filed court documents asking a judge to rule in their favor regarding that lawsuit. No decision has yet been made.

I know absolutely nothing about this property on Laurel Street, nor do I want or need to. But the Red Carpet Inn is a whole other story. Because of confidentiality concerns, I cannot provide any insights at this time.

But know this. Not only was I inside the entirety of the Red Carpet Inn on official company business (guess why) only days before it was finally put out of it’s abject misery by the City of Wilkes-Barre, so was my trusty camera. And as we all know full well, pictures do not lie. Or in this particular case, 54 pictures do not lie.

This, the Red Carpet nonsense, is a frivolous lawsuit. And I have every possible confidence that the latest suit is nonsense as well.

And if you want some corroborating testimony on the conditions inside that shuttered dump, ask any Wilkes-Barre fireman or police officer.

The New York Football Giants have hired Buffalo’s recently fired interim coach as their new defensive coordinator.

Gee, I feel better already.



Monday, January 18, 2010

March 17, 1962: Where is Markie?

My daughter Peace just keeps bringing to the surface this genealogy stuff that was buried fathoms deep in the internet. I swear, she is to genealogy what Eddie Van Halen is to playing flash-bang harmonics.

You might need a magnifying glass for this one.

My mom told me about this, how he, my dad, was supposed to communicate with my "custodian" by way of coded want ads and whatnot. Sounded pretty far-fetched to me. Like a plot line from an old Perry Mason episode or something. Turns out, it was all true.

And this is the first I've ever heard of my aunt supposedly "aiding" him. Although, after reading that news blurb, I'm not entirety sold on the idea that she was doing as much.

Whatever. The latest unearthing from my, from what seems like a previous life.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The post that almost was

In case you missed it, at the very end of 2009 Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton suffered some turnover amongst his executive staff. Most notably, City Administrator J.J. Murphy ended his tenure with the city to give the private sector a try.

We’ve got a newly promoted city administrator, as well as a newly hired executive assistant to the mayor. And since there’s been no official press release on any of that, I will not name names.

Since I figured he’d be available for comment, and since he’s never been reluctant to answer any of the many questions I’ve tossed his way over the years, I asked him to do an interview in which we would look forward at Wilkes-Barre’s immediate future, and dispense with the usual ‘year in review’ post so many bloggers feel the need to post upon the arrival of Amateur Night.

I forwarded to him a dozen questions about various city projects that are about to be completed, about to get underway, with a couple of inquiries about floundering properties thrown in for good measure. And since he so recently handed in his keys to City Hall, I figured we could do an informal exit interview.

He agreed to all of it, but the “Beer Summit” format I suggested would have to wait until after his current one-month deployment to Florida with the U.S. Air Force. So, the plan was, he’d send the textual stuff from Florida, I’d post all of that, and upon his return in very early February, we’d do the beer thing which would then turn into a follow-up post. Nifty.

But, I awoke this morning to find the following text message waiting on me:

I have been asked to deploy to Haiti to coordinate the search and rescue operations. I should be gone for approximately 45 days.

Thanks for your support.


It figures.

As was always the case with J.J., if and when you gain his ear, you had better pepper him with questions because he doesn’t sit still for very long or very often. Actually, he doesn’t stay in the United States very long, but that’s totally dependent on what the U.S. military has on it’s enormous plate at any given time. In this case, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and off he goes.

Here’s a short piece I snagged from the King’s College Web site that will fill in some of the blanks:


June 1, 2005- King’s College is honoring Wilkes-Barre City Administrator J. J. Murphy with the Leo Award during Reunion Weekend at the College’s Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center. The Leo Award is presented to an alumnus/alumna within fifteen years of graduation who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in his/her professional or community activities. The award is named for the King’s College mascot; it suggests the energy, pride and sense of purpose which the recipient personifies.

J.J. Murphy of Wilkes-Barre is a 1993 graduate of King’s College. He has distinguished himself in both military and civil service, while also spending many hours volunteering in the communities in which he has lived. As a military officer, Murphy volunteered over 3,000 hours and received the 2001 Volunteer of the Year award. He is the recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal in 1998 as well as the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2000, 2003 and 2004. Murphy was also the primary public affairs representative for the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Virginia’s during the September 11 attacks.

In February 2003,J.J. Murphy was mobilized for 13 months as a reservist in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In civilian life, he is currently the youngest city administrator in the history of Wilkes-Barre. As founder and president of GOALS Foundation, J.J. is dedicated to helping children afford youth sports programs. He has coached, tutored, refereed, trained hockey officials and coordinated visits to multiple Veterans Administration hospitals.

In addition, he was also deployed to Djibouti, Africa in very early 2008. That was a fairly lengthy AFRICOM-related forward-deployment, the duration of which escapes me now.

Here’s an e-mail exchange only hours old:


No biggie. After seeing that utter devastation, I got to thinking...Gee, I guessthere's really something to be said for building codes and zoningordinances after all.

Freakin' bummer going on there.



You nailed that one. The coordination is immense. Looking forward tothat drink after Feb 1st.


So, the exit interview and the look forward at Wilkes-Barre’s immediate future will obviously have to wait. And I guess the Beer Summit will have to be indefinitely postponed. Meanwhile, Major Murphy has himself another mission, and the Haitian people need all the help they can get.

Anyway, this was a little note about the post that almost was. And a shout out to one of Wilkes-Barre’s best and brightest…J.J. Murphy.

Haiti may be reduced to rubble as I type this, but help is on the way from Wilkes-Barre. He’ll be there, followed by more.*


Editor’s Note: I think he’s a Major. I always call him General Murphy so as to prove how completely juvenile I am. So I’m a bit up in the air about his actual military rank.

*Adaptation of the lyrics of the Air Force fight song.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Aggravated assault by way of a cassette player? or: Kids today!

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. [...] Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to god and out of this tragedy I'm optimistic something good may come."--Pat Robertson

Could be worse. They could be New York Jets fans.

A caller to Sue Henry’s talk show on WILK suggested that opponents of natural gas drilling in Northeastern Pennsylvania are foolish because, as he put it, “…they’ll work out the kinks.”

Sure, they, the companies doing the drilling, might eventually work out the kinks. Maybe. But, assuming they eventually…eventually figure out how to fracture the bedrock by pumping millions of gallons of water and hazardous chemicals into it without tainting the water supply, what is the end result for the folks who had their properties drilled early on? Uh, a tainted water supply.

What good is a hefty royalty check if your water table is rendered unsuitable for human consumption?

Answer me that.
From the Times Leader:

Man charged in high school burglaries

WILKES-BARRE - A man was charged by city police on Friday on allegations he burglarized two high schools in Wilkes-Barre.

Brandon M. Sack, 24, of North Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, was charged with forcing his way inside Wilkes-Barre Area's GAR High School on Jan. 3, and Holy Redeemer High School on Jan. 6.

Police allege once inside the two schools, he pried open vending machines stealing money.
Sack was previously charged with burglarizing GAR on Jan. 9.

Sack was arraigned by District Judge Martin Kane in Wilkes-Barre and was remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. He is jailed for lack of $60,000 total bail.

Make checks payable to: The Bail Out Markie’s Idiot Nephew Fund.

Sorry, but I’m all out of tough love. I know he was dealt a tough, tough hand by life, but it was no tougher than the hand I was dealt. In the end, despite the obstacles, the trials and the tribulations and the many frustrations that accompany them…there’s just no excuse for the tilt towards criminality.

I taught this kid exactly what I taught my kids. Get a job, work hard, work harder and try to do the right thing more often than not. But never did I suggest that an occasional arrest or two was acceptable. Whatever.

It is what it is. Or as Francis Vincent Zappa once said, “You are what you is, and that‘s all it is.”

And now, a private message for Gort. If you are not Gort, please scroll past this blurb. Don't you look. Don't do it.

Dude, if you’re interested, I happen to own a kick-ass stapler. It doesn’t hurt none too much, being stapled.

Don’t ask me how I know.

From the Times Leader:

Barrett: Set maximum towing prices in W-B

The City Council president has received complaints on rates some towers charge.

WILKES-BARRE – City Council President Bill Barrett said he’s moving forward with plans for an ordinance that would set maximum rates that towing companies could charge for removing vehicles from privately owned property within city boundaries.

Barrett said he has received several complaints regarding the fees some towers charge for removing unauthorized vehicles from private property, as well as the “predatory” practice by some towers who remove cars even if a complaint has not been lodged by the property owner.
The proposed ordinance would regulate rates and would also dictate the circumstances under which a car could be towed, he said.

Predatory towing practices?

Does anyone know which tower or towers he might be referring to? Gee whiz, I can’t figure it out. (Wink, wink)

Personally, I’ve never had the misfortune of having my vehicle towed, because I never park illegally.

Am I smart, or what?

Times Leader again:

Fears of fight prompt delay for basketball

The Wyoming Valley West vs. Coughlin game, originally set for Friday night, will instead tip off today in Plymouth.
PLYMOUTH – Citing concerns voiced by parents that an apparent tiff between some students at the two schools could spill into a basketball game slated for Friday night, Wyoming Valley West and Wilkes-Barre Area school districts postponed the WVW-Coughlin game to this afternoon, WVW Superintendent Chuck Suppon said.

“There is some tension between some students. I don’t think that it has been substantiated that it is based on race,” Suppon said, “And we want to make sure that anyone going to the game, and that the facility itself, is safe.”

The delay from a previously planned 7 p.m. tip-off Friday night to a 1:30 p.m. varsity tip-off today at WVW High School will help the district and Plymouth police arrange additional security.

At first glance, this kind of annoyed me.

But after further review, being that kids these days can’t limit themselves to trading punches and often opt to employ chains, knives and firearms, I have no qualms with any of this. Truth is, I prefer brawls that are sporadic, even spasmodic, over the planned-out variety.

I got caught up in one of these brawl events in the mid-70s. At the time, Coughlin flat-out sucked at basketball despite having the league’s leading scorer. Polacheck, I think his name was.

Anyway, we were going toe-to-toe with then powerhouse Nanticoke, and time was running out in our standing-room-only gym. Following orders from the bench, one of our players fouled a hard-charging Nanticoke player in possession of the ball, which caused him to tumble head-first into the bleachers. A hard, hard foul, no doubt. But I was there, and it did not look deliberate. It just seemed like momentum plus the added shove led to the violent tumble.

Here’s the incendiary part:

Being that Nanticoke was (and probably still is) Lilly white, and being that a very large black player (McGahee) from Coughlin added the shove, one of the Nanticoke parents stood up and shouted the “N” word. You know the word. The big one. The word you use if and when you want a fight with those folks sporting a permanent tan.

It started slow at first, the black kid yelled back at the parent, other fans stood up and chimed in, the Coughlin bench leapt to it’s feet, the Nanticoke bench did likewise, and finally, an adult from the Nanticoke side lurched out of the bleachers and took a swipe at the offending kid sporting that skin color that Nanticoke circa 1973 or so didn’t seem to care for. And all hell broke loose.

As for myself, I was sitting in the top of the pop-out bleachers with my back to Washington Street. And even though I had no particular beef with anyone from Nanticoke, I did what I always did. Smart or not, I followed my older cousin’s lead by racing down those bleachers at breakneck speeds and sucker-punching (sort of) the first sumbitch I encountered that did not appear to be a Coughlin supporter.

For all I know, he was a sportswriter. For all I knew, he was a Coughlin band parent. But the brawl was on, he was not wearing any red and blue, and he was setting off a proximity alert in my scrambled brain.

And just as soon as the agitated-looking police officers started filtering into the gym from across the street, it was Exit Stage Left right out of the door leading to the alley.

The difference being, these days, a gym brawl could easily lead to gunplay. But back in the good old days, about the worst you could expect was getting cold cocked by a portable Craig cassette player.

If I had it to do over, I would have never assaulted that guy as I did. Thing is, I rendered the cassette player completely inoperable. And I destroyed my beloved copy of Chicago II that Jeff Fox had taped for me. I can still see that skinny tape unwinding from the plastic reel as it flew away. Finances being what they were at that time--nonexistent--there’s a do-over I’d engage.

As for that guy lying stunned on the hardwoods with the bloodied face…screw ‘im. He was probably from Nanticoke anyways.


Kids today, heh?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coal Street Park pics

The following pics were taken from the 7th floor of the highrise at Sherman Hills.

I could tell you why I was there, but that would clearly violate a confidentiality agreement. Let's just say I was there to help ensure the public's health.

I dunno about that picture above. Zoomed in a tad too much, I suppose. Looks like a lumber supply warehouse or something.

The new playground was moved much closer to Coal Street and towards the teener field. That old playground was a death trap. Why, with all of the rolling logs, the wooden pillars and the unusually low wooden overhangs, when I was a teenager and a park regular, I had seen enough people seriously injured there to fill a convoy of ambulances. See, back then we had no medic units. Only ambulances.

It pains me to think that the pool is going to replaced by a soccer field. Actually, the thought of kids playing soccer at what was once my second home pains me.

Ah, soccer. All that's required is a ball and a field. And the rules are as folows: Kick. Soccer, the game of choice for unimaginative Europeans and Third World folks too poor to play anything else. Oh well, I guess mediocrity should have it's place, too.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

GOP: Tom Ridge to speak in Wilkes-Barre

Luzerne County Republican Party
41 S. Main St. Ste. 14
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701
570-208-GOP1 or lcgop@luzernegop.org

WILKES-BARRE (Jan. 12, 2010) – Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Luzerne County Republican Party. The event will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Ramada Hotel on Public Square.

Ridge, a two-term governor and first Secretary of Homeland Security, will present an award to Patrick J. Solano, a longtime party worker and former GOP County Chairman.

County Republican Chairman Terry Casey said the organization is “thrilled” that Ridge will join the group for its annual fundraiser. Republicans across the United States traditionally hold Lincoln Day events to honor the Feb. 12 birth of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.

“We’re excited to be hosting Gov. Ridge who is a motivating speaker and we’re glad that he has accepted our invitation to honor his longtime friend Pat Solano,” Casey said.

The award will recognize Solano, 84, of Pittston Township, for his decades of service to the Republican Party, both on the local and state levels. Solano is a past chairman of the county GOP and worked with several governors including Ridge.

Ridge, 64, is president and CEO of Ridge Global LLC, a team of international experts that helps businesses and governments address a range of needs throughout their organizations including risk management and global trade security. He resigned as governor in January 2002 to accept the position of Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. He served until February 2005. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Ridge is an honors graduate of Harvard University and a graduate of Dickinson School of Law. He served in Congress before running for governor. He and his wife Michele have two children.

Tickets for the Lincoln Day Dinner cost $50 each. Reservations may be made by calling 208-4671 or e-mailing
lcgop@luzernegop.org. Tables of 10 are available for sale. Guests are asked to specify an entrée choice of prime rib, chicken francaise or grilled salmon.

Contact: Renita Fennick 570-208-4671 or 570-239-8851

Monday, January 11, 2010

Public Urination 101

“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”--Dean Wormer, Animal House

Before we go any further, I want to make it perfectly clear that I fully understand it is a crime to urinate in public. That is, to be caught urinating in public.

I was reading this Times Leader story about, Nathan Strawn, 22, a Kings College student who was, as the Leader put it, “…arrested and faces several charges after allegedly urinating on a religious Christmas display early Sunday morning.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Nathan Strawn, 22, was arrested after “he was observed fully exposed urinating on the Nativity scene located on Public Square,” city police said in a press release.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:54 a.m., police said.

Strawn was charged with indecent exposure, desecration of venerated objects, open lewdness, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

City police said Strawn was taken to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility and was held there for arraignment, but a prison official said there was no record of Strawn being held for any length of time at the prison.

Police identified Strawn as “a King’s student” in the press release.

Mayor Tom Leighton did not return a message left on his cell phone seeking comment.

I heard this one on the police scanner, and the way I heard it there was a very brief foot chase. So I’m thinking he caught a break by not being charged with trying to elude the police.

I will say this, I’m amazed to read that the newspaper sought a comment of any sort from the mayor. Are we trying to over sensationalize a minor incident simply because a nativity scene was urinated on? One little tinkle and this becomes a major incident worthy of the mayor’s time? One wizz and the mayor needs to comment?

This part is all official sounding and whatnot. Sounds serious:

King’s College Public Relations Director John McAndrew issued an e-mailed statement on behalf of the college.

“King’s College, through the Dean of Students Office, reviews student behavior that takes place on and off campus. Such behavior that is described in the report not only is a criminal violation of the law but is an affront to the mission of King’s College and a violation of the Student Code of Conduct,” McAndrew wrote.

“Such behavior will be addressed swiftly by the Student Affairs Office in a manner that is fitting the seriousness of the offense to the College and Wilkes-Barre community,” the statement concluded.

So allow me to speculate. This kid is 22-years-old, so he’s probably in his junior or senior year. Most likely. So, if we go and blow this thing all out of proportion, will the college feel the need to bounce the kid, putting an abrupt end to his secondary education?

This is fun:

Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition President Charlotte Raup said she couldn’t believe the report of urination on the Nativity scene.

“Public drunkenness is one thing, but that’s just really sick,” Raup said.

Raup said public drunkenness is becoming an increasing problem downtown “because of all the bars.

“Our poor police, all they’re doing is responding to calls at all the downtown bars at night. It’s a shame. When you’re downtown all the time, the rest of the city is not being protected,” Raup said.

Ah, the neighborhoods are being ignored. I haven't heard that gambit in a while. Whatever.

It’s really sick? Why would that be, because an imported plastic replica of baby Jesus was peed on?

Cut me a freaking break!

The dirty little secret is (and there are plenty of Nord End residents that will confirm this) that just about every square foot of central Wilkes-Barre from Northampton Street to Butler Street has been pissed upon--repeatedly--by drunken Kings College students. They go in the bushes, they let it fly on the sidewalks, they’ve been known to squat in the parking lots and that’s a fact.
So let’s cool it with the feigned outrage.

College kids drink to excess on a regular basis. Same as it always was. And when they gotta go, they gotta go. Just like when we were dumb-assed youths stumbling through the early morning hours.

Last I checked, it was not a hate crime to pee on a plastic Jesus. To micturate on a manger is not an offense perpetuated against God , or anyone’s religious beliefs. Taking a leak in public does constitute unacceptable behavior, but should this kid be judged more harshly because a religious symbol was involved?

Piss on that!

We don’t need the mayor, the crime watchers, or anyone else for that matter. The kid did what he did, an observant police officer nabbed him, and now the kid has a big problem on his hands.

Put him on probation, put him on double-secret academic probation, make him pay a stiff fine and have him spend a prohibitive number of hours doing community service as punishment. But don’t put a sudden halt to his education. I fail to see how that addresses anything.

Drunk, stupid and peeing in public is one thing. So smarten him up by way of punishment, and further smarter him up by way of his continuing education.

What he’s truly guilty of is carrying on a time-honored tradition amongst Kings College students--peeing in the hedges or somewhere thereabouts. So let’s not single him out for daring to be creative whilst relieving himself.

Here in the Nord End, we’re well aware of Public Urination 101, and this kid was not the first to take the course while at Kings.

Sez me.

If you follow this link, The Green Atheist, you can not only read the pissing bandit's purported Facebook apology, but see his picture as well. You know, dartboard fodder for you religious types.


“Cut the horseshit, son. I've got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.”--Dean Wormer again