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.