Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To the voters

Well, I got what I wanted.

And all I had to do was take issue--once--with a guy who predictably throws mud in every available direction and waits to see what sticks. So far, his winning percentage is .000.

Check it out: To Mark Cour

Personally, I could really give a flying funk about any local little league fast being relegated to the dustbin of sporting history. These days, parents are too self-absorbed to teach their children the many nuances of organized baseball, so they prefer to drop them off at the sports versions of day care...soccer practice.

Getting back to what I wanted, it was the following from former city administrator, Jim Hayward...

Am I supporting a mayoral candidate from that neck of the woods, ABSOLUTELY? I want a Mayor who cares about the WHOLE City not just downtown and Barney Farms.

I am supporting CHARLOTTE RAUP, who has done more for the residents of Wilkes-Barre than leighton can ever dream of doing!

So, we have the former city administrator who's administration was an unmitigated disaster for the entire City of Wilkes-Barre (not just the Parsons section), the guy with no legislative experience and no salvageable executive experience endorsing someone with no legislative experience nor any executive experience.

Look at it this way, Jim. Once the primary election is over and the egg on your face has dried, you won't have to blog anymore. After that disappointment, you'll have no reason to. Well, unless another ghost writing gig comes about if and when Un-American Luzerne County gets pulled back out of the electronic ether.

Two more years to qualify for a City pension. So close, but so far.



The mystery is solved. After being accused of restricting comments for about a week, I did some poking around this here site and found the following...

" We have enabled automatic spam detection for comments. You should occasionally check the comments in your spam inbox."

Ah! So even though I've never moderated comments, the host company was doing it for me. And doing it poorly. Well, sort of.

Anywho, since I'm not entirely sure what to make of this just yet, I have gone full-blown on moderating the comments from here forward. I have no intention of restricting the commenting. Rather, I simply want to be notified of all incoming comments, whether they are viewed as being spam or not.

Once I sign in and see what's what, your comments will be posted as received, providing they are not wholly inappropriate.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another election season, another short-term blogger

First it was "herbal extracts" and now it's "bath salts" not only making the news on a regular basis, but prompting many a discussion on WILK radio. After a lengthy back-and-forth on a recent edition of the Sue Henry show, I came to the following conclusions:

1. A large segment of the population favors the legalization of all drugs, including the aforementioned newcomers to the never ending party.

2. Very many of our fellow citizens think that prostitution should be legalized.

3. Recently, it has also come to light that these still legal products driving the recent news and conversation should also be legalized.

4. With WILK as my polling data, most seem to be against the selling of our state-owned liquor stores, with the rationale being that privatizing the sale of these products would provide easier access to minors. As in, we need to maintain strict control.

Okay, so despite the fact that I visit my favorite prostitute twice a week, despite the fact that I like to unwind in my den with some marijuana laced with synthetic angel dust, never mind that I drink like a fish when I'm coming down from yet another high and make no mistake...the excessive drinking and whoring and drugging and smoking is no big deal, but I better not catch my friggin' kid drinking beers over at Timmy's house!

Boy, oh boy.

What sorts of role models are we?

According to the Lu Lac Political Letter, we've got some sleazy phone polling going on. Yep, apparently some underhanded, dirty politics is going on here in Wilkes-Barre. I'm shocked. Saddened. Horrified. Driven to tears, I am.

And long before we next vote, I'm sure we'll hear that some dirty trickster is out there stealing yard signs under the cover of darkness. Or somebody threw a non-organic egg at a candidate's house. Or some such equally useless twaddle.

Issues, people! Issues!

I'd bet that our pretend president--Baroke Oblahblah freaking hates this group...

Americans for Prosperity

Seriously, if I'm prosperous, doesn't that mean somebody less prosperous, "less fortunate," got screwed over somehow?

Just like I said, this new agenda-driven site---Stop Corruption Now!-- publishes inaccuracies and half-truths. The new post, "Mayor and City Council Sell Out Parsons," would be laughable if it weren't so completely lame. A real knee-slapper, I tell you.

Here's the scoop...

The City sold the old firehouse in Parsons without knowing that the Parsons Little League was utilizing storage space on the firehouse property. When the City caught wind of this, a meeting was held on March 3rd with the president of the league, and the city is going to provide a brand new storage shed as well as new dugouts at no cost to the league. And all done by volunteer union labor, no less.

Two questions. What's the sudden concern with the Parsons section? And, are we supporting a mayoral candidate from that neck of the woods without stating as much? Thin, man. Pretty frickin' thin.

2 more years and a taxpayer-provided retirement, huh? Stopped much corruption lately?

Not!!! to both.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Harry Haas Q&A

So far, I've invited three of the Luzerne County Council candidates to participate in a question and answer exchange with yours truly. All three replied, but only two have confirmed that they will engage. By the way, I'd be more then willing to repeat this exercise with any one of the hundred or so candidates.

Anyway, the first to respond is Wilkes-Barre's own Harry Haas. And before we proceed, I copied some background info from his campaign site.

My Profile Since 2002 I have lived in downtown Wilkes-Barre after returning from four years of teaching in Washington, DC and Fairfax County public schools. I currently teach world history to 7th graders at Dallas Middle School and weekly citizenship classes to new immigrants in Hazleton. In my spare time I take advantage of jogging on our riverfront trails and skiing on nearby slopes. My favorite past time is traveling to other cities and countries.

My Education Background M.Ed. Secondary Social Studies and Special Education, The George Washington University B.A. History with Minor Concentration in Spanish, The George Washington University Rotary Exchange Student to Madrid, Spain Dallas High School Class of 1993

Anyway, here's the Q&A:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the opportunity...really enjoyed this. Just like last time, the final question was toughest!


1. Why you? Why now? What differentiates you from the rest of the crowded field?

We have one shot at laying the foundation of a successful home rule government. I think the one thing that differentiates me from the rest of the field is my age: 35. I'm young enough to hold fiercely onto the idealism that we can do this right, but seasoned enough to earn the respect--and work collegially with--the other council members.

2. What motivation is there to want to serve on a legislative body for very little pay and no benefits?

I ran a spirited campaign for Wilkes-Barre School Board 2 years ago for no pay and no benefits. I was planning to run for school director again, but home rule offered a part-time means to give back to our community: as a council member, I can invest a similar amount of time but have a more far-reaching impact. The motivation remains the same my school board race: we need to restore a broken system for ourselves and for the sake of the next generation.

3. Last I knew, the debt service payment was 17.2% of the yearly budget. Any ideas on how we can significantly reduce our outstanding debts?

Debt service takes up a sizable chunk of county spending along with the judiciary and prison system. I have to give credit to Country Controller Walter Griffith for setting the example that making government work doesn't mean slashing programs or firing staff, but merely holding government accountable. This debt has crept up through an inexcusable lack of oversight in many departments. Reducing debt first means plugging the leaks: enforce a documentable reimbursement policy, install time clocks for all staff, recover unpaid tax revenue, et. al. Saving a thousand here and a thousand there over time will decrease our debt.

The state also issued a report in 2004 about how to significantly tackle our debt. This has been unheeded by 5 different county commissioners.

4. How can our newly-created council help to restore the public’s shattered faith in our county government?

Stop bickering and stop stealing. I hope that candidates who can work with humility and decency will win the primary elections for both parties.

5. In your opinion, does a nationwide search for a county executive make more sense than electing a local person?

Yes, but it shouldn't preclude a "native son" for applying for the position. Given the opportunity, I would prefer a candidate with distinguished service in managing another county or state department outside of the area. For the new county executive to be as successful as possible, we need to minimize the political pressure on him/her. Invariably, an executive candidate from our area is likely to have a lot of connections to please--or worse, to pay back.

6. Should public sector unions be allowed to strike?

As a county councilman, it would be my job to make sure that the dialogue never escalates to that.

7. What are your thoughts on the collecting bargaining rights of said unions?

Fine, with some caveats. Collective bargaining must:

1) be done in good faith on both sides

2) not discriminate against non-union employees

3) be reasonable to taxpayers who don't have the luxury of union advocacy

4) not escalate in binding arbitration without exhausting all attempts at communication over periodic meetings.

8. Would you be in favor of a clear-cut anti-nepotism policy?

Absolutely. I ran on instituting a fair-hiring policy for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. How we make sure that we don't discriminate against truly exceptional applicants who happen to have a relative already in the system is why we must reach a solution in committee and consensus on the council. I'm excited to see the work that some transition committees are doing on this and related policy questions.

9. Since austerity seems to be the way of the world for the foreseeable future, would you be in favor of an across the board budget cut by a fixed percentage?

That generally seems the fairest way. However, when money is tight in a typical household, you make cuts at varying amounts in different areas. For example, when tough times come, entertainment will get cut more than the food budget. I think our county needs to cut our "entertainment" expenditures.

10. What should become of the Valley Crest property as well as the former juvenile detention facility? Moon Lake Park?

Valley Crest: Sell it. Detention Facility: either find someone else to manage it for juveniles or transfer low-level country adult offenders there. Our county jail is overcrowded and pleas for more funds seem to make the paper. Moon Lake Park: lease it.

11. If the makeup of the county council were to be dominated by one area of the county, do you think that the funding of capital projects could become provincial in nature?

In properly run counties, there are established timeframes to build and/or maintain capital projects. 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year plans ensure that infrastructure is examined and maintained at equal intervals, regardless of location.

Secondly, this is a great question, but I think geography only makes a difference in winning an election and not governing. 1) Our most recent elected majority commissioners were from Dallas and the Hazleton suburbs, and few-if any-complaints of provincialism in this administration ever made the papers. 2) Other entities like the chamber or state initiated corporate welfare programs are the greatest provincialists! Their planning has robbed urban areas of factories by setting up "industrial parks" near to the suburbs. A generation ago, the city was the industrial park. Now we have traffic in the country and desolation in the city. I grew up in rural Franklin Township and think that country folks just want to pay their fair share of taxes and be left alone.

12. If you could fund one major project by executive fiat, what would it be?

Hotel Sterling preservation.

13. What’s your favorite color (trick question)?

[in the] black.

Once again, thanks for the insights, Harry.

Keep us abreast of the latest. And good luck.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

County Council: Flip a series of coins?

I copied the following from a spreadsheet. Follow me here…

CANDIDATE--PARTY--HOMETOWN--AGE--PROFESSION 5 6 John Adonizio D Hughestown 52 employee, Latona Trucking and Excavating, Pittston 7 Edward Brominski D Swoyersville 71 retired 8 Elaine Maddon Curry D Drums 63 Medical librarian, Greater Hazleton Area Health Alliance 9 Michelle Bednar D Congynham Township elected township tax collector 10 Jim Bobeck D Kingston 30 administrative law judge 11 Michael G. Collins D Ashley 63 retired 12 Michael A. Chrobak D Dalls Township sheet metal worker, Power Mechanical Inc. in Wilkes-Barre 13 Casey Evans D Lehman Township 24 political consultant 14 Mario J. Fiorucci Jr. D Sugar Notch 53 works for PA Mentor in Pittston as a mentor for clients with developmental disorders, Sugar Notch Council 15 Michael S. Giamber D Sweet Valley retired federal employee Linda McClosky Houck D Kingston 53 teacher, Wyoming Valley West School District 17 Stanley Knick Jr. D Dupont 51 owner Knick Fence Co., Dupont Council 18 Thomas W. Ksiezopolski Harding Lackawanna county deputy sheriff 19 Salvatore Licata D Pittston 60 retired 20 John Livingston D Wilkes-Barre housing inspector 21 Michael McGlynn D Duryea Lab operator, Lower Lackawann County Sanitary Authority; 22 Tim McGinley D Kingston director for the Commission on Economic Opportunity 23 M. Theresa Morcavage D Plymouth 62 retired, former Luzerne County employee 24 John T. Nadolny D Nanticoke 46 training director 25 Brian K. Overman D Plymouth assistant professor, Luzerne County Community College 26 Joseph M. Padavan D Bear Creek 58 President, Local 15253 United Steel Workers 27 Thomas Mark Rome D Dupont maintenance mechanic, Pittston Area School District 28 Thomas Rovinski D Dallas 62 retired from state Department of Corrections 29 Bruce J. Simpson D Wilkes-Barre 57 retired federal employee Harry W. Skene D West Pittston 49 attorney 31 Frank Sorokach D Ashley 62 semi-retired 32 Eileen Sorokas D Wilkes-Barre 63 retired 33 Fred Stuccio D Pittston collision manager, Motorworld in Wilkes-Barre 34 Wil Toole D Dupont 67 retired 35 Stephen A. Urban D Wilkes-Barre county commissioner 36 Jane Walsh-Waitkus D Mountain Top 61 college instructor, Penn State Hazleton 37 Robert G. Webb D Duryea Duryea director of buildings and grounds 38 Wayne Wolfe D Hunlock Creek regional director, American Red Cross 39 Michael Cabell R Drums 25 operations manager with Traffic Control in Drums. 40 Kathleen M. Dobash R Hazleton 51 therapeutic staff worker, artist 41 Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt R Kingston housekeeper 42 Blythe H. Evans R Plymouth owner, Blythe Evans Rentals LLC 43 Joseph A. Gorko R Wilkes-Barre doctor, veterinary consultant Harry Haas R Wilkes-Barre 35 history teacher, Dallas High School 45 William "Bill" James R West Pittston 66 retired 46 Eugene L. Kelleher R Dallas Township partner, Kelmark Real Estate LLC 47 William McIntosh R Dallas 42 engineer, PPL Susquehenna LLC 48 Rick Morelli R Sugarloaf 39 strategic customer specialist for biopharmaceutical company. 49 Gina Nevenglosky R Mountain Top 51 promotions/marketing employee, Jade Promotions & Marketing, Plainview N.Y. 50 Moderno "Butch" Rossi R Hunlock Creek 55 Purchasing employee, Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority John Ruckno R 62 retired 52 Linda J. Urban R Wilkes-Barre accounting assistant, Kentrel Corp. 53 Stephen J. Urban R Wilkes-Barre helpdesk support technician 54 Edward Warkevicz R Lehman Township 63 owner, Edward Warkevicz Insurance Services

That’s the list of people who want to be elected to the soon-to-be-seated Luzerne County Council, although I suspect there are a couple of errors included since I seem to remember that we ended up with 49 hopefuls. I dunno. Doesn't matter, though.

Now, as a registered voter, what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Take it upon myself to do some exhaustive (?) Google research on this plethora of candidates? Attend every available forum, even if that means having to shortchange my customers?

While I’ve met a goodly handful of these people, I’d probably consider voting for only half of them. Some of these people come into this election with very high public profiles, but many of them couldn’t grab my vote if they came promising a no-holds-barred romp with Sharon Stone.

I’ve met Tim Mullen, who is running as a Libertarian. Talked at length with him, I did. And I would definitely vote for him in the general election.

will definitely vote for Harry Haas, who should be sitting on the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board right now. Turns out, the voters of this city were reluctant to introduce integrity into that vacuous mix, despite always going on and on about keeping our best and brightest. Hint: He belongs in that category.

The only candidate that has been getting his message out early on is Bruce J. Simpson, who has utilized the free, county-wide forum that WILK radio offers to candidates during every election cycle. He’s been submitting his press releases to this site. In addition, he’s agreed to be interviewed on these electronic pages of mine.

I recently met another of the many hopefuls, but they tell me his criminal record will scratch his chances of being elected.

So, what’s an information-challenged voter supposed to do with that gargantuan pool of candidates?

Should I go the way of the metrosexuals by voting all female? Perhaps I’ll vote for only those who came from the same ‘old country’ my ancestors hailed from? Should I have my grandson assist me with the drawing of names out of a New York Giants cap? Pin the names to a dartboard, slap on a blindfold and start pitching?

Should I automatically reject the candidates who never warmed a pot of wimpies on grandma’s heatrola for not being sufficiently born-and-bred on coal? Our should I go all Haka on them and see who wets themselves?

Much like our pretender-in-chief, I’m all ears.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Failure does not necessarily equal corruption

Between the Internet, talk radio and published reports, I’m getting an almost accusatory vibe whereas the ineffectiveness of City Vest’s efforts to market the Hotel Sterling are concerned.

Sure, City Vest spent upwards of $6 million with little to nothing to show for it. And, yes, it’s fair to call for an audit of all the finances involved, since those funds were provided by governmental bodies. Audit away!

But I think in the end all that we’ll learn is that even though they failed, they tried. Wrongdoing? I seriously doubt it. Not with the likes of Judd Shoval involved.

And while faced with a flailing economy as a result of an economic meltdown in 2008, a seriously denuded real estate market, a heretofore unheard of credit crunch and a general feeling of economic malaise for too long now, I’m not surprised that the old hotel turned out to be less than marketable.

In fact, it’s much like the fate of the Sinawa project on Penn Avenue…the pile of rubble that used to be the Murray Complex.

Before the mother of all recessions, the plan was to build retail space as well as housing units. Then the bottom dropped out of the U.S. economy. I’ve heard the howling critics, going on and on about how the developer was granted Tax Incremental Financing (T.I.F.) as part of the purchasing agreement. They point to that tax forgiveness as proof positive that the taxpayers have been wronged, since no new construction has come about.

Fact is, in this economy, I wouldn’t be too quick to sink millions into any grandiose local project either. I’m not saying I’m happy about that pile of rubble becoming a familiar site in the downtown area, but I’m not quick to point an accusatory finger, or fling an incendiary bomb with Americans doing their grocery shopping in Family Dollar stores in increasing numbers.

For the time being, perhaps we should temper our expectations.

Thanks to Dan the Fireman, I learned that we’ve got a new entrant to the local blog-o-rama…Jim Hayward at Stop Corruption Now!

Some background: Jim Hayward is a former city firefighter, a former city administrator and an attorney currently on hiatus.

I have absolutely no problem with anyone or any group who endeavors to post investigative forays into how our local governments are perpetrating misdeeds and/or missteps upon an unsuspecting public. But after two posts, I see as many inaccuracies and half-truths as I see certifiable facts on this new site.

For instance, this oft-repeated rant about how the City’s surveillance camera system supposedly does not work.

Very recently, when city police officers were responding to a call at an East End address, one of the occupants of the house took off on foot when the first of the officers arrived. And then a foot chase into Coal Street Park ensued.

When the officer caught up to the fleeing female, another officer came over the scanner by telling the chasing officer, “I have you both on camera.”

So, in this case, not only did the system work as designed, it worked well after dark, which clearly highlights it’s infrared capabilities.

While repetition may lead to reputation, repetition does little to prove that a reputation is deserved.

Anyway, there’s a new local site to peruse.

In my mind, it is absolutely essential that Wilkes-Barre have representation on that soon-to-be seated Luzerne County Council. This is the county seat. This is the county's largest municipality hosting the county's largest indigenous populace.

And that’s one of the many reasons why I will support Harry Haas.

And then we’ve got a call to wake up at Wake Up Wilkes-Barre.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tora! Tora! Tora! or: how not to handle disgruntled customers

I cringe when people call WILK and quote a dictionary, as if they alone have a rudimentary command of the language. According to the...blah, blah, effing blah.

Anyway, looks like somebody added the following comments to the "Mayoral Race Roster" post and then deleted them. Either that, or the blog tools have failed yet again. Either way, I will republish those comments...

austin has left a new comment on your post "Wilkes-Barre Mayoral race roster":

Ok Mark Merriam-Webster defines integrity: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or ARTISTIC values. Attacking someone’s business on a public blog making “by your own statements false or exaggerated statements” and as for your daughters order, if she did have an issue why didn’t she call me? Trust me I would have made it right. I make it a point to satisfy every customer. Is it possible that yet another claim is unfounded?

Posted by austin to Circumlocution for Dummies at March 23, 2011 9:04 AM

Did you ever try to describe what waiting way two long for something feels like? How to portray how a 20-minute wait might have felt like an hour? How that passage of time can be agonizingly painful? Hello, Mr. Hyperbole!

Example #1: Why, the John Deere done run out of gas, so I had to walk darn near 100 miles to the nearest fillin' station.

Example#2: Me and Uncle Jiggy got hammered on his home brew, and we's so dang hungry, we waited about a quarter moon for a possom-topped pizza from Hooper's Cookin' Emporium.

In addition, only a total maroon would wait over 5 hours for a pizza. And only a total maroon would believe that I might do as much. That was (what I thought was) the first hint that hyperbole may be afoot.

And take note of the fact that I did not identify any business in that post, any mayoral hopeful, nor did I name the owner or management of said outfit. Actually, the folks going on and on about integrity and the like kind of identified themselves.

Fact is, we did make two follow-up calls that night, and both times we were told by a female employee that our order would be here shortly. But that's neither here nor there at this point.

Somebody stuck that business card-sized flyer under my windshield wiper. We tried what was then a brand new business shortly after it opened. We were far, far from being even remotely satisfied. Hence, we never bothered again. We were done. But now that somebody wants to be elected, I lack integrity, I lie and/or I make unfounded claims???

Now that's quality management! Real people-centered management. Reverse damage control, if you will.

You never ordered from us. You lie. You lack integrity. You have a rare foot disease. Your mother was homely. You...


Monday, March 21, 2011

Bruce Simpson press release

The latest...


Contact: Bruce J. Simpson


It is well known that the Luzerne County area needs jobs and the taxes that flow from them. Many businesses and individuals have argued for allowing gas exploration companies to come into Luzerne County and to search for natural gas for these exact reasons. In fact, the Governor has made the industry tax free on production which is strange and questionable in itself in light of the Commonwealths budget shortfall which has led the Governor to cut education funding for our schools.

The real question is whether or not the risks of the "fracking" process are worth the potential benefit. After much consideration and consultations with advisers, Simpson has now taken the position that "fracking" should be prohibited throughout Luzerne County.

The gas industry refuses to identify the chemicals used in the fracking process and sufficient evidence indicates that these chemicals are making their way into the drinking water supply along with gas itself as witnessed by people being able to light their tap water on fire. If these chemicals weren't deadly, the industry would not hesitate to identify which chemicals are being injected into our shale and water tables.

Now a new danger has surfaced. In the state of Arkansas since the advent of fracking in that state six months ago, over 1000 earthquakes have occurred with at least one registering almost a 5 on the Richter scale which was the largest to hit the state in 35 years. As a result, the state of Arkansas has ordered a halt to all fracking anywhere in Arkansas. In the seven days prior to the cessation of fracking, there were 100 minor earthquakes. In the seven days since the halt, earthquakes have dropped to 50 and continue to decline in number with the severity dropping as well with the quakes registering between 1.2 and 2.8.

All of the side effects of fracking indicate that this is a dangerous process that places both the environment and lives at risk. Fracking should be banned until proper advancements are made to limit the negative consequences to the environment and eliminate the dangers to people's lives. For once, health and safety must come first over corporate profits.

For more information on Bruce J. Simpson please visit his website at www.simpsonforcouncil.org.

Rarified Air

I work for Rentokil's North American Pest Control division, Rentokil-Ehrlich, which is now comprised of 86 locations in 33 states. And growing fast. Real fast.

And earlier today they bestowed me with this...

Needless to say, I'm in a pretty good mood.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Bomb Oblahblah, bomb!

What I was wondering was…

Why a local guy would be sentenced (after a plea bargain) to 5 years in prison for possessing child pornography, while another local guy, convicted of shooting someone to death, would be convicted to a sentence of 2½-5 years in prison.

The former guy secretly fantasized. The latter guy upped and violently ended someone’s life. One acted out. The other one didn’t.

Must be me.

Let me see here…

Genocide down Africa way is (not by any stretch) nothing new.

Fact is, ethnic cleansing, genocide, rape, mass murder and mass graves are to be expected from that continent. With regularity, in fact. And since we lost a couple of Black Hawks a ways back, no one has lifted a single finger to end any of it.

But…the world economy is sliding towards the abyss as Quantitative Easing Part II (or is it V?) fails to stop…only accelerates the stifling economic bloodletting. The price of crude oil has become as unstable as has the tectonic plate under Japan. And with that, the “recovery” in America is endangered by the fast-rising prices at the pumps at our gas stations.

The question is, what to do about the price of oil and what it means to the world economy, our economy and the chances that a vacillating, ineffective and incompetent pretender in the White House could actually be reelected?

Why, we’ll bomb Libya!

Yes, a War for Oil! Remember that tired bit…War for Oil?

We’ll either stabilize Libya, or we’ll flatten Libya. But, no matter the necessary measures, the price of oil will stabilize, and then drop to levels that might not hamper economic progress, no matter how anemic.

Folks, Baroke “I’ll close Gitmo” Oblahblah has now become the slightly darker version of George W. “War for Oil” Bush.

And when he gets back from his Brazilian vacation, right before he departs on his next vacation, but after a few weekends of golf and another March Madness television appearance, oh, and another party or two at the White House, he’ll tell us how the sacrifice of our folks in uniform was necessary to protect those innocent souls in eastern Libya.

Still hoping for change? You had it. It went by the name of Hillary.


***Now, who was it again that said, "Drill baby, drill?"

Some stupid broad, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I remember when the nightmares first began, after we took in the then-dated Godzilla movie starring Raymond Burr. It was part of a sci-fi double feature at the local drive-in movie --The Derby Drive-In. If I had to guess, I’d say that was in 1964, since my sister was almost a toddler.

Soon after, Godzilla dominated my frequent dreams. In fact, he had a monopoly. He’d chase me. He’d stomp on the buildings I was in. He’d attack my house and damn near everything else that eked into my dreams at the time. We were once shopping at the local Bradlee's department store when thunder came rolling through the valley. I damn near jumped out of my skin.

I became so preoccupied with Godzilla (especially after dark), I would not enter my bedroom after dark without first pulling down the window shades before the lights went on. Simply put, I did not want him peeking in at me. It was as if those window shades offered some sort of protection from monsters, much like blankets do for most vertically-challenged sprats.

So I’m a big boy now, and I have no lasting fear of Godzilla on most days. The dreams kind of dried up when I was a teenager. But to this day, the big lizard does come and visit me in the middle of the night every now and again. And after waking, I look kind of longingly at the dream that ended but minutes ago, as they are a long lost part of my boyhood.

During those aforementioned teen years (and to this day), I became a huge fan of Blue Oyster Cult. I first saw them at the Paramount (Kirby Center) in 1974. I took in their 120 decibel show at the Spectrum. Then later on at the Kingston Armory. And also at the Station Complex.

If you know these guys at all, you know that Spectres (1977) followed up on the massive success of Agents of Fortune (1976) and made them a huge commercial success, where before that they had a sort of cult following. Spectres spawned a couple of classic songs, which are concert staples to this very day: R U Ready to Rock, and the thunderous Godzilla.

Anyway, after days worth of checking the latest heartbreaking news from the Kyoto Wire in Japan, it dawned on me that Godzilla had finally come ashore. Well, sort of.

Check these lyrics that sound eerily similar to the breaking news from Japan, but we'll replace the word HE with the word IT.

With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
IT pulls the spitting high tension wires down, Godzilla!

Helpless people on subway trains
Scream My God! as IT looks in on them, Godzilla!

IT picks up a bus and IT throws it back down
As IT wades through the buildings toward the center of town, Godzilla!

From what I’ve been reading, that’s pretty much the way it went down when the massive tsunami came inland.

As far as the nuclear plants are concerned, I’ve read all I can read on that. They had steel/concrete containment structures. Good. They were built to roll and sway with an earthquake of any enormity. Good. They had diesel-powered backup generators to make certain the reactor cores were kept cool in the event the power should go down. Good.

But who could have figured on a 9.1 Richter scale earthquake immediately followed by a killer tsunami?

Here comes the last stanza from Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla:

History shows again and again
How nature points up the folly of men, Godzilla!

Weirdness, ain’t it?

In parting, if you're of the praying variety, it's time to work some magic.


People suck

I’ve been a tad busy of late, hence my absence here in the electronic ether.

Between having to work Saturday and participating in the parade here in Wilkes-Barre, that weekend was gone before I knew it.

The parade was nice, the crowd seemed to be what it has been in recent years and the weather was even agreeable. I did notice an uptick in drinking. Well, instead of spiking drinks in plastic cups as is usually the norm, I noticed quite a few people drinking right out of opened beer cans. And we even had an intoxicated parade marcher collapse under the weight of her preferred concoctions of alcohol.

If you think about it, if you’re out there representing your business, your organization or what have you, should you be seen consuming alcohol? Methinks not, but I’m a firm believer in acting professionally when the situation clearly calls for it. You know, a killjoy.

My daughters took in the Scranton parade a few years ago, you know, making the rounds in the party bars and the like. And they came back saying “never again.” Why? Because of the bad behavior of the multitude of people who had consumed way too much alcohol. Soliciting sex. Urinating in inappropriate places. Public vomiting. Being boorish and obnoxious. All the good stuff. And that’s why we need to keep the drinking to a minimum here at our parade.

Another thing that kind of put me off was how the gathering of pitched candies to the parade-goers seemed so frightfully important to the adults rather than to the hordes of children at the curb’s edge. Yeah, the adults, not so much the children, were beckoning us to throw candy, and then they would spring forth to collect it. Embarrassing to watch, it was.

We had 40 pounds of candy to toss. And we also had see-through bags provided by the Citizens’ Voice that were stuffed with coloring books, whiteboards and candy. After I tossed my first bag, some lady followed us up the block barking in Spanish and with her hand actually extended into the cab of the truck. Perhaps we’ll need to take a translator next time. Or a collapsible baton. Maybe pepper spray.

When we arrived at Public Square, the throng of people were surging into the street. And people were darting across the parade route. So I needed to pay attention to my surroundings rather than interact with the crowd. And as I was indiscriminately tossing candy out of the window without looking, some black guy appeared in my window just shouting away. At first, I thought he was screwing around. I thought he was going to crack a smile.

But he wasn’t making a funny, he was pissed off that I did not toss enough candy in the direction of his kids. And I quote, “You’re gonna have to start effing bringing it, man. I got three kids out here!” I was so stunned, it took me a second or two to respond with, “Dude, get a bleeping grip!”
So now the prevailing sense of entitlement is bleeding over into parades?

And then we had the guy who responded to the “I believe” magnet on the door. He yelled into the cab, “You still believe? Pffft!” I said, “Yeah, you believe that?”

Man, this city has no shortage of negative people who’s vision is permanently blurred by their searing negativity. If it’s so bad here, if it’s that completely bad, take your free candy and move to one of those Utopian places.

Oh, and then there was the lady who took serious offense to the custom-made ribbons I had put on the front quarter-panels. As she was hanging out in our group before we started rolling, she encountered the “I support more troops than you do” ribbon, as well as the “My ribbon is better than your ribbon” stick-on.

Uh, it’s a joke! Get it? Lighten up, people. Go take your ulcer medication and chase it down with a fifth of vodka. Like they do at the Scranton parade.

At the reviewing stand, I pitched a goodly handful of miniature Tootsie Rolls over the roof of the truck in attempt to be the first person to pepper the important dignitaries. I haven’t seen anything in the newspapers, so I’m assuming I did not put an eye out.

On a personal aside, I normally drive an F-250 XL, with my backup truck being an F-150. And these new Ford Rangers, these things are akin to Campbell’s soup cans with wheels. And from the swamped “Note to Self” department, even my smallish 7-year-old grandson complained that the truck was too small for our parade-going purposes.

So, in conclusion, the parade is still a great event. But as is increasingly the case as our society continues to devolve, people suck.

They say this place is state-of-the-art…

Coal Street Ice Rink

The 2011 Wyoming Valley Riverfest is scheduled for June 17 through June 19th.

Be mindful, if you’re planning on participating, the 17th is a non-paddling festival-like event. The paddling will take place on Saturday the 18th, and Sunday the 19th. You can paddle on one or on both days.

For more info as the date draws nearer…River Common

To rent kayaks and canoes…Endless Mountain Outfitters or Susquehanna River Adventures


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Donald in 2012?

Back in 2003, someone asked me if I wanted to kayak the Susquehanna River on the day after it had crested at 37 feet here in Wilkes-Barre? Even though Wifey was dead set against it and completely convinced it was an invitation to disaster, I thought, why not?

Which leads me to...

Should Donald Trump Run For President in 2012?

Well, there's no clear front-runner on the GOP side. Sarah Palin can't run because the left-meaning repeatedly display a clear loathing of uppity women in the political realm. And they already screwed Hillary Clinton withing even kissing her.

And from the looks of things, despite doing his level best to inspire an epic remake of The Grapes of Wrath, the idiot bastard son will be seeking a second term as pretend president. So why not? Why not stir things up? Why not muck about with the entrenched ruling class in Washington D.C.?

Why not?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3.1% and all hell breaks loose

Since Governor Tom Corbett let it fly with his $27.3 billion budget yesterday, it's been a nonstop bitch fest on WILK talk radio. The newly unveiled budget marks a 3.1 percent decrease from last year's budget, but the gripe seems to be that only the truly needy will be feeling the pain of that decrease.

Personally, as Amerika transitions from super power status to third world status, I think the sting of the overdue and necessary budgetary bloodletting should be felt equally by all involved. For instance, that 3.1% cutback should be an across-the-board cutback...no exceptions. That's that. Easy to follow. Fair is fair.

Tree-hugging aside, I think Pennsylvania could still become Corbett's "Texas of natural gas" if the gas drilling companies were made to pay a minuscule 3.1% extraction tax. If not more.

All I know is, the searing pain of an economic pullback should not be inflicted only on the folks on the very bottom rung of the economic ladder.

Here's what our very own state representative from Wilkes-Barre had to offer...

Pashinski reacts to governor's budget address

HARRISBURG, March 8 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Corbett's 2011-12 budget address to the state legislature:

"Governor Corbett stated that the solution to recover from the recession is 'all embracing,' so then he should keep his word and make sure everyone has skin in the game," Pashinski said. "This means everyone pays their fair share, including big corporations. If the governor expects to freeze the working families' salaries and benefits, then the big corporations must hold the line on increases as well. When it comes to Marcellus Shale gas, the governor wants Pennsylvania to be like Texas, then so be it. Texas has an extraction tax, and so should we. Don't balance the budget on the backs of hardworking families and the vulnerable alone. If we are all in this together, then we all have to feel the pain and pay our fair share."


Here, here.


P.S.--Pre-school tutoring? Are we crazy?

Wilkes-Barre Mayoral race roster

We had a last-minute addition to the City Council race, Scott Koppenhofer (R), the regional Guardian Angels honcho, will be on the ballot in District B. He did not file for the mayoral race as he had hoped to do, but he did have this to offer...

"Mark I was not able to obtain enough signatures in the little free time I had. I did have enough time to change gears and file for city council. I will hopefully be able to meet for a beer fest to discuss this venture where I can have the ear of the Mayor and make suggestions. I am still keeping the petition you signed as my first and second signature."

Dude, bring that petition up so I can scan it. Oh, and the meeting of the perpetually spinning minds (speak for myself?) over a few hops-laden agricultural amusements aids sounds like a doable plan to me.

The mayoral showdown in Wilkes-Barre will include the following...

Tom Leighton
Charlotte Raup
Nick Punko

Karen Ceppa
Lisa Cope
Frank R. Sorick

I will refrain from editorializing at this point, except to say that only one of the candidates listed above made us wait five-plus hours for something barely resembling a pizza. But, seriously folks, how hard could it be to manage a third class city of 43,000 people?


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Three Wise Monkeys Party has entered the local fray

This update from the Times Leader sure beats all...

Posted: 3:31 PMUpdated: 4:12 PM

Luzerne County Commissioner Urban running for county council, district magistrate
JENNIFER LEARN-ANDES jandes@timesleader.com

Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban is in the process of filing a nomination petition and other paperwork to run for county council.Urban said he is also running for district magistrate to fill the seat left vacant when William Amesbury became a Luzerne County judge.Check back later for more details.

County council? And worse yet, he wants to be a magistrate? A magistrate? Why not, Executive Director...Comedy Central?!?

This from the guy who spent a decade as county commissioner feigning ignorance while impropriety, nepotism, cronyism, despotism, unchecked corruption and wasteful abuse ruled supreme; and while fast-piling outstanding debts (half a billion) ruled the too-painful-to-watch days we have still yet to pay for?

Yeah, vote for me. I didn't see, hear or say a freaking thing while your county was being systematically plundered under.

Spin that.


Barletta releases/city council race additions

Dated yesterday...

For Immediate Release Contact: Megan Sweeney
March 7, 2011 (202) 225- 6511

House Subcommittee Holds Pipeline Safety Roundtable

WASHINGTON– This morning, the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, including Representative Lou Barletta, held a public roundtable discussion on pipeline safety issues in King of Prussia.

Representative Barletta, Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster and Subcommittee Member Pat Meehan were joined at the meeting by their fellow members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation including Representatives Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent. The group heard from a wide array of federal, state and local elected officials and stakeholders in the pipeline community in order to gather input on pipeline safety concerns in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"Today's discussion serves as the beginning of an important dialogue on the ways to improve pipeline safety in our Commonwealth and our country," Barletta said. "As Pennsylvania strives to become a leader in energy production, we have a responsibility to step up to the plate and find ways to improve our pipeline infrastructure while keeping our communities safe."

“It is important for us as elected representatives and policy makers to get an on-the-ground assessment of the important issues that affect communities and businesses where pipelines are concerned,” Shuster said. “There is a limit on what you can accomplish at a distance from Washington, DC and I was pleased to hear from such a diverse set of participants at today’s roundtable.”

“Pipelines are critical to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Shuster continued. “Our state has a tremendous opportunity to develop the Marcellus Shale, create jobs and transform our economy. This cannot happen without pipelines that bring gas to markets in our region and we must make sure our network infrastructure is safe and up to the task.”

“The safety of the approximately 700 miles of pipeline that snake throughout Chester County is critical to providing communities with peace of mind and helping meet our nation’s demand for home-grown energy,” Congressman Gerlach said. “I want to thank Chairman Shuster for engaging stakeholders in a discussion about reasonable approaches to addressing issues surrounding the safety and security of a vital part of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.”
“In light of last month’s deadly natural gas explosion in Allentown, which claimed the lives of five of my constituents, I was particularly interested in learning more about the aging pipelines located in Pennsylvania’s cities,” Congressman Dent said. “Much of the pipeline infrastructure in Allentown consists of cast iron pipelines. If aging cast iron systems expose communities to greater safety risks, it is important that federal, state and local authorities work together to facilitate thorough inspections of older pipes and replace those found to be deteriorating.”

“I appreciate this opportunity to join my colleagues for a productive discussion about addressing the need to secure Pennsylvania’s pipelines,” said Congressman Meehan. “Today we focused on finding real solutions, getting answers, ensuring accountability, and determining the best way to move forward. While pipeline accidents have seen a decline over the past decade, recent tragic events in Allentown and Philadelphia highlight the need for continued federal cooperation. I look forward to working with Chairman Shuster and other members of the subcommittee on addressing this important issue.”

And today...

For Immediate Release Contact: Megan Sweeney
March 8, 2011 (202) 225-6511

Barletta Announces ‘From Home to House’ Telephone Town Hall Meeting

WASHINGTON – Representative Lou Barletta announced that he will be conducting a ‘From Home to House’ telephone town hall meeting this Thursday, March 10th beginning at 7:00 p.m.

“The best way for me to represent my constituents is to listen to their thoughts and concerns as often as possible,” Barletta said. “Thursday’s telephone town hall will allow my constituents to provide me with critical feedback, all without having to leave the comfort of their homes. I hope that everyone will join me for this Thursday night’s telephone town hall as we work to improve our District and our country.”

Operating in a fashion similar to a large conference call, the ‘From Home to House’ telephone town hall meeting will begin with a short introductory statement from Representative Barletta, followed by questions from constituents.

While some residents in the 11th Congressional District may receive automated phone calls inviting them to join in the conversation, any resident of the 11th Congressional District is welcome to join the call by dialing 1-877-229-8493 and entering the PIN number 17728.

Additional ‘From Home to House’ telephone town hall meetings will be announced at a later date.


Two more hopefuls for the Wilkes-Barre City Council scrum, both in voting District A:

Joe Bernardo (R)

Don Winder (D)


Monday, March 7, 2011

Council race update

As per the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections Web site, we've got a few new entrants to the Wilkes-Barre City Council race.

In District C, Stephen J. Urban (R) is in. No, not the county commissioner, his son.

In District D, Linda J. Urban (R), yes, the commissioner's wife is on the ballot.

And in District E (Nord End), Darren G. Snyder has declared as a Democrat.

Prospective candidates have until 4:30 tommorow afternoon to file their nominating petitions with the election bureau folks, so expect Stephen A. Urban, yes, our republican turned democrat lame-duck county commissioner to waltz in there well after 4 p.m.

Be he a last-second candidate for magistrate, mayor, council, squirrel catcher or all of the above...who really gives a flying fu>k? He's about as over as is the three commissioner system. Thank goodness.


Wilkes-Barre City Council race shaping up

This is as interesting as it is wide open.

First of all, we’ve got 3 incumbents bowing out. If that’s not unique enough, we’ve got a retired city firefighter, a retired city chief of police, a former city councilman, the son of a former city councilman and the wife of a current city fireman all vying for a seat. Did you get all that?

Anyway, the breakdown by voting district:

District A: 1-term councilman Rick Cronauer (D) will not seek a second term, instead opting to run for magisterial district judge.

George C. Brown--D
Norm Davis--D
Jamie M. Wert--R

District B: Current councilman, Tony Thomas Jr. (D) will not seek another term.

Tony George--D
Vaughn Koter--D
Darlene Duggins--D
Vincent Guarneri--R

District C: 2-term council lady Kathy Kane (D) will run for City Controller.

Justin McCarthy--D
Shelby Sudnick--D
Calman Baggs--D
Eric Redick Sr.--D
Maureen Lavelle--D

District D: Councilman Bill Barrett (D) is seeking his third term.

No challengers to date.

District E: Councilman Mike Merritt (D) will be seeking his second term.

Virgil Argenta--R

Pretty interesting doings, no?

Although, I think I'm all but ready to declare the winner of District D. There are a couple of people listed above that I really, really like, but they don't reside in my voting district. As far as my district is concerned, District E (Nord End), incumbent Mike Merritt is a shoo-in unless he suddenly goes all Charlie Sheen on us. Not very likely.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Specificity, please

Frankly, this one threw me for a loop.

Ceppa running for W-B mayor, controller spots

More specifically…

She said specifically that she would work to improve the condition of the city’s roads, to improve the response time of the city’s police department, and to establish a website where residents could submit information about problems and other issues in the city.

Uh, I’ve fired-off countless emails to various city officials during the past few years, and I have always received a reply in a day or two. And sometimes the reply even came by way of a follow-up phone call.

Try this: Wilkes-Barre City 'contact page'

I really hate to single out any one candidate at this early juncture, but feel-good generalities feel good until the fast-increasing harsh realities of life lurch up and eviscerate them.

We all want the roads paved, patched or reworked completely, but state and federal funds are drying up faster than the treasury can print them. The trickle-down faucet of Fedrule Govmint control of every aspect of our lives has run itself dry. And as far as improving the response times of the police department is concerned, while that’s something we should always be striving for, I fail to see how a civilian can instantly enhance law enforcement to any discernible degree.

Perhaps we just need plenty more specifics from the candidates. Or as one of our visitors to this site said…”WB has improved, but maybe someone does have better ideas, although I agree with you.......WHAT ARE THE IDEAS?”

So far, we’re getting a steady diet of regurgitated generalities: I’ll fix the neighborhoods. I’ll pave the streets. I'll replace a sign. I’ll improve the policing. Really? How?

And while every candidate would certainly love to be endorsed by the unions involved, did you happen to notice that not one of the candidates has promised to add to, improve, bolster or boost the capabilities of our fire department? Why would that be? I thought that was a hot-button issue in this city…the streamlined fire department. Or as the firefighters would likely call it, the understaffed fire department.

My guess would be that the candidates probably suspect that what the current mayor has said all along is true, that the finances allow for the fire department in it’s current form, and that’s that. Otherwise, they’d be spouting off about adding new hires, new apparatus, new firehouses or other cost-prohibitive things such as those.

Sorry candidates, but vagaries aren’t going to cut it, unless we’re all in for a localized version of the biggest disaster since Chernobyl…the hollow and useless rhetoric that was Hope & Change. You can't eat or power a vehicle with hope. And making a change for the sake of change is often a fool's errand.

Look, we’ve come a long way as a city since January 2004, and I do not want to see the city backsliding it’s way towards insignificance all over again. If Tom Leighton were to be defeated during this election cycle, that’s all well and good provided that we replace him with a more than capable replacement.

I am not related to him. I seek nothing from him in exchange for my support of him. I have no man-crush on him. And I would not book a cruise of the coast of Somalia if he were to be relegated to the political graveyard. But if he were to have to relinquish the keys to City Hall anytime soon, I would want to feel supremely confident that his ultimate successor would be able to build upon his many successes.

And so far, in my mind, that person has yet to emerge. In reiteration, “WHAT ARE THE IDEAS?”

And please, if it's at all possible, be specific. If what you seek is votes by the boatload, let's get specific. As we should all know by now, the Devil is often hidden in the details.



This is it, the entire grandrodent gang.

I do not remember the name of this lake down Knoxville way. Let's just call it Yankees Suck Sound, shall we?

Anyway, that big galoot on the left is my son, but going from left to right from him on over...Taylor Kate, Avery Jayce, Jeremy Nate, Gage Andrew and last but certainly not least...Zachary Bryce.

My younger daughter tells me she is going to be with child before the biological clock gets too, too wound up, so the rodent roster should be enlarged before you know it.

Just what the world needs, yet another descendant of mine.


Saturday, March 5, 2011


Taylor Kate...

...our Chipper Jones--slash--Deborah Harry wannabe.

And backing up, a thoroughly bored-looking Zach.



Direct from Knoxville, Tennessee (left to right), Gage Andrew, Taylor Kate and Zachary Bryce.

Be all that you can be, even if you're a rodent, right?

I have no idea who that goofy-looking dude in the foreground may be.


He's baaack! (or just fu>king with us)

No more sign-in screen.

It seems that Gort 42 has gone live again. Not that NEPA's favorite alien has posted anything new on his site, he hasn't. But with this latest development, he's either pulled himself up out of the synthetic mothballs imported from outer space and ready to post anew, or he's teasing us.

My best guess would be that he's coming out of his self-imposed exile to tell us about how robust the economic "recovery" is. Or how public sector unions are not bankrupting cities and states. Or that our pencil-neck geek of a pretend commander-in-chief is not in over his swollen head. Or how hard-left leftists really, really, really hate being called what they actually are...easily-led born-and-bred communists.

Anyway, uh, welcome back, Gort.


Friday, March 4, 2011

2007 W-B City Primary Election numbers

For what it's worth...memberin' history back...

THOMAS M. LEIGHTON . . . . . . . 3,854...70.24%
TIM GRIER . . . . . . . . . . 1,613...29.40%

City Council
District A
TIM GRIER . . . . . . . . . . 76...4.93%
RICK CRONAUER . . . . . . . . . 847...54.96%
JOHN R. MADAY . . . . . . . . . 62...4.02%
SHIRLEY MORIO VITANOVEC. . . . . . 556...36.08%

District B
RAY ARELLANO . . . . . . . . . 107...10.74%
BRUCE J. REILLY . . . . . . . . 407...40.86%
TONY THOMAS JR. . . . . . . . . 480...48.19%

District C
JUSTIN MCCARTHY . . . . . . . . 275...32.82%
SAM TROY. . . . . . . . . . . 124...14.80%
KATHY KANE . . . . . . . . . . 437...52.15%

District D
JOE DANIEL . . . . . . . . . . 341...24.62%
TIMOTHY ANDERSON . . . . . . . . 100...7.22%
BILL BARRETT . . . . . . . . . 453...32.71%
SARAH MCCAFFREY . . . . . . . . 62...4.48%
MICHAEL J. MCGINLEY . . . . . . . 226...16.32%
JAMES G. TAYLOR . . . . . . . . 22...1.59%
BRUCE SZCZECINSKI. . . . . . . . 180...13.00%

District E
VIRGIL ARGENTA. . . . . . . . . 112...12.39%
FRANK MATELLO SR.. . . . . . . . 96...10.62%
MIKE MERRITT . . . . . . . . . 351...38.83%
CHARLOTTE RAUP. . . . . . . . . 174...19.25%
RON SILKOSKY . . . . . . . . . 171...18.92

Now the political dead men walking…that is, the Republicans.

District A
WALTER L. GRIFFITH JR. . . . . . . 211...83.73%
District B
VINCENT GUARNERI . . . . . . . . 91...52.00%
LISA MCGLYNN-COPE. . . . . . . . 75...42.86%
District C
PETER J. GAGLIARDI . . . . . . . 127...96.21%
District D
LINDA J. STETS. . . . . . . . . 152...86.36%
District E
JOHN M. YENCHA. . . . . . . . . 201...97.10%

Crunch 'em

Happy Little Hot Dog Co. or: More Proof of Reverse-Gentrification in the Neighborhoods

Check the picture...

Yeah, that's two more new businesses in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

If you're up on the latest, you already know the mayoral race in this city is suddenly attracting potential candidates faster than Council Chair Kathy Kane can hammer-down on the gavel. If all of the people currently carrying nominating petitions actually declare their intent to run for mayor, the candidate's debate may need to be a marathon to cover all of the pressing issues. In fact, we may need to rent the Muckahegan Sun Arena so as to provide a stage wide enough to comfortably sit this fast-growing group.

But the picture posted above makes me wonder about how many of those potential candidates could have taken a shuttered, abandoned and broken downtown and turned it into a thriving center of commerce in less than eight years. Based on their preliminary resumes coupled with their threadbare, contrariety-laced platforms (neighborhoods), I'd bet that not a one of them could have worked the virtual miracle we've recently lived through. Not a one.

With that said, I can't even imagine being so completely bereft of ideas that I'd base my mayoral campaign on the promise of much more timely replacements of missing street signs. Aren't there phone numbers on those city calendars they distribute a month late every year? Last I checked, the city had a better-then-average Web site with feedback email addresses provided. A street sign? What's this? A return to the McGroarty years? Vote for me, I'll show up with a new sign and the press in tow, meanwhile, we rack up $10.5 million in overdue, unpaid debts?

So everybody and their kid brother wants to be the next mayor, everybody is promising to fix the neighborhoods, but I have yet to hear a single specific about what they will fix or how they will endeavor to fix it. All I've heard is this incessantly inferred claptrap about how the neighborhoods must have suffered while the downtown was being incrementally reclaimed from the druggies, the prostitutes, the homeless vagabonds and the petty criminals. Remember when?

And I would say to you that the great majority of the perceived problems in your neighborhoods more closely correlate to the general breakdown of morality in our society than to anything any administration of this city has or has not done. Societal decay cannot be blamed on any one mayor, on any one city council or on any one chief of police. And to purposely pretend otherwise is to immediately disqualify oneself from being suitable for public service during the ongoing decline of Amerika.

Anyway, the owners of two more new businesses have invested in Wilkes-Barre's future. But somewhere out there in the darkness, there's a sign post crying out for a replacement sign.

I'm certainly no political consultant of the legendary Ed Mitchell ilk, but y'all have got to do better than this.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Press releases

First up...Congressman Lou Barletta...

For Immediate Release Contact: Megan Sweeney
March 1, 2011 (202) 225-6511

Congressman Barletta Votes To Keep Government Operating

WASHINGTON – 11th Congressional District Representative Lou Barletta released the following statement regarding his vote in support of the stop-gap Continuing Resolution known as H. J. Res. 44.

“Today, I voted to keep our government open for business,” Barletta said. “During these tough economic times, it is important that we must make every effort to present a needless interruption of government services while at the same time finding ways to get our fiscal house in order. The Continuing Resolution passed today will not only keep our government running, it will reduce government spending by more than $4 billion.

“While this bill serves as an answer to the threat of a possible government shutdown, it is by no means a solution to our current fiscal situation. I was proud to join with at least a dozen of my colleagues in the House in calling on the Senate to pass an additional $100 billion in necessary spending reductions, because it is time for our government to accept our new economic realities.”

In addition to voting in favor or H.J. Res. 44, Congressman Barletta joined at least a dozen of his colleagues to ask Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye to begin consideration of H.R. 1, which would fund the federal government through the end of Fiscal Year 2011.



Megan Sweeney
Press Secretary
Office of Congressman Lou Barletta
510 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Work: (202) 225-5981
Cell: (202) 604-1425

Next up...Luzerne County Council candidate Bruce Simpson...

Contact: Bruce J. Simpson
March 1, 2011
Phone Number: 570-824-5451
Bruce J. Simpson Announces Plan For Trying To Reduce Crime in the County
Bruce J. Simpson has announced that, if elected, he will call for a study commission made up of volunteers consisting of police officers, municipal elected leaders, the District Attorney’s Office, and financial analysts to consider the feasibility of creating a Luzerne County Police Department. In many larger jurisdictions throughout the country, a centralized police department protects and serves the citizens of their community with increased efficiency.

Simpson's initial thoughts on the matter include a stronger patrol bureau acting in concert with the District Attorney's Office, Attorney General's Office and the Pennsylvania State Police. A county police department would be better able to coordinate the response to narcotics issues as well as a gang problems. These types of crimes are destabilizing the county in many areas and are lowering the quality of life for the citizens of Luzerne County.

With a county-wide police department, specialized forces could be moved into an area that is experiencing a particular increase of a certain type of crime that must be crushed as quickly as possible. Narcotics have been entering Luzerne County from New York City, Newark and Philadelphia along with other cities. This issue must be addressed by a police force dominant enough to take on these narcotics traffickers and continue the work being done now by various police agencies.

Just as serious a problem is increased gang activity throughout the county. All one has to do is drive through various areas and read the gang tags that litter the walls of buildings, railroad cars, and even street signs. It is imperative that law enforcement meet this threat with a highly professional, trained and motivated task force that can put this situation under control before we lose control of the streets. Gangs that people associate with Los Angeles and other areas can be found right here in Luzerne County. This problem must be aggressively addressed. Simpson also calls for the closing of MinSec in Hazleton and it's removal from Luzerne County.

One of the issues to be studied by the committee would be how to pay for such a police force and whether or not some communities could opt to maintain their own police departments within their jurisdictions. A key duty of the study committee would be to ascertain whether or not it would be possible to go to this plan without any increase in spending.

"We live in troubling times, with major assaults from the criminal elements of society, and we need to meet these challenges by utilizing 21st-century solutions. I’ve spent part of my career as a uniformed police officer, special agent for the FDA, as well as a magistrate. I had the opportunity to work in Prince Georges County Maryland (which borders Washington, D.C.) as both a police officer and a magistrate. I understand the challenges modern law enforcement faces and I hope to improve the effect Luzerne County law enforcement can have on the forces of crime which seek to destroy so much that we hold dear."

Bruce J. Simpson for Luzerne County Council