Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trump's W-B headquarters

Help me out, here.

Did Donald Trump acquire the Hardware Bar when no one was looking?

I have no idea what that's all about. Some sort of deranged promotion? Yes, you can register to vote while eyeballing lots of jiggling mammalian protuberances. Or, perhaps it's simply a sign of Trump devotion coming from the owner of the establishment. Got me.

By the way, Trump was completely justified in hammering our mystery man of a pretend president about his long-elusive birth certificate. George W had every single aspect of his life examined in detail...and then some, while the press was constantly clamoring for some proctological permissions. Yet, Obama refused to divulge even something as supposely mundane as a birth certificate. Hmmm.

But what of his immunization records? Where are they?

And what about his library card records? Were there a couple of books that were never returned? Whatever happened to Dick & Jane do Spot?

Was he a Boy Scout? If so, how many merit badges did he earn?

Oops, wait a minute. Scratch that Boy Scouts request. The Boy Scouts are way too pro-American for Obama's Marxist-tinged globalist tastes. Nevermind.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scranton gone Wilkes-Barre circa 2003

When I finished with this Times-Tribune story--Scranton running out of cash, running up deficit--much earlier today, my mind immediately raced back to a online spat I once had with a former, short-lived Scranton area blogger.

His angle was that Wilkes-Barre was hopeless, while Scranton had a shiny new mall and plenty of projects on the-then drawing boards. My angle was that Wilkes-Barre (under the-then new mayor, Tom Leighton) had embraced fiscal sanity where none existed before he took office, and that Scranton's finances even back then were a literal basket case and would only flat-line over time.

It took a little while, but score one for Markie.

Interestingly enough, Scranton's current financial woes almost exactly parallel Wilkes-Barre's financial difficulties from the not-so recent past. See, it's fairly easy to follow: When you need a T.A.N. (tax anticipation note) to retire the previous unpaid T.A.N. in any given fiscal year, you are already reeling well out of control.

And as a general rule, if your municipality of choice needs more than one such loan in any fiscal year, you might want to consider pulling up stakes. Head up to Bradford County. The word is that property values in that area are low, and going lower every day.

And you might want to extrapolate this upon the current brouhaha in Washington. One side says we need to cut back, but the other side says cutting back will hurt people...so, so over their dead bodies!

And wasn't that exactly the argument between Scranton's executive and legislative branches during the last budget smackdown?

Ah, whatever. Like I could really give a flying funk about Scranton.

Sadly, stupidly, down here in Wilkes-Barre, the residents either do not or deliberately will not appreciate what financial solvency is all about. Financial solvency, if I may, that first began to take shape back in January of 2004.

Hey, it is what it is. Mayor Tom Leighton righted our heavily-listing ship. Deal with it.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo outtake

There's something about this outtake of a photo that reminds me of Highlights for Children, that Honesdale-based kiddie magazine.

Don't ask me why. I am a walking, talking, introspective amalgamation of conflicting influences, so much so, that it sometimes makes me wish that I had me one of those glorified Donna Reed upbringings, much like the kids who grew up without fences in Forty Fort.

Did you know that was a locally generated magazine, Highlights for Children? I'd bet big, big, goofy looking Monopoly bucks printed on imported Chinese presses that you did not know that.

Personally, I miss Life Magazine. At least, I miss the award-winning photos that usually graced it's oversized covers. And I truly miss Boy's Life, a rag that is still published to this very day.

Imagine that, a magazine published for boys. In this day and age?


Thanks to our newly-found, enlightened state of feminine awareness that we were heavily prodded into realizing, we now know that boys and all that they bring to the world should be deleted whenever and wherever possible.

Face it. This is an enlightened, crashing society that we are now desperately trying to escape from. We'll save the whales. A couple. And we'll attempt to suck face with dangerous Polar bears, until first contact, when they rip our faces off.



Happy (insert politically correct gibberish)

Well, it's official.

Boscov's does not open on Easter.

My bad.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Checkin' in

Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm still toiling away out here. Or, out there. Something or other.

I'm tired. I'm beat. I'm dinged up, and earlier today I took a disintegrated steptic pencil to two of my bleeding knuckles. Could be worse: could have been one of those liquid (borate dope) patches I used to use for bowling.

Sure, it's been annoyingly cold, but it's been equally wet. Oh, and then some. And mature termite colonies will always predictably flock to moisture, moisture and then those elevated moisture levels within structures. And where there are no fallen forests within 300 yards to feed upon, there are frame structures. You get the picture.

Anyway, the waistline is shrinking, the overall muscle tone is increasing...and I'm looking forward to two days of doing nothing.

I'm still here, but I am currently engaging the fast-emerging enemy.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dump the Chump in 2012

There's not much going on on my end. Zach, Jeremy and I enjoyed a spirited walkabout throughout the Nord End earlier today.

I received a rather impersonal e-mail invitation to the upcoming blogger/candidate event to be held up there in Pittston, but I seriously doubt that I'll bother to make an appearance. The thing is, no matter how hard I force myself to try, I cannot get myself even a little excited about the impending primary election. My reasons will follow after the paragraph break.

I don't care what the latest polling data may suggest, we've got a pencil-neck geek recently escaped from academia running the economy of the country into the jagged rocks awash with ocean spray. We're going down fast. We're going down hard. And if the geek actually secures a second term in the White House, there will be no coming back from the damage already done, as well as the damage soon to be done.

With all of that having been typed, how am I supposed to get excited about any of the multitudes of candidates running for the multitudes of local offices? Um, because they seem to be the best of the rest whereas the implementation of austerity programs are concerned?

Be it City Council, the soon-to-be seated Luzerne County Council, magistrate, judge or what have you, all of the people to be elected next month will become impromptu bean counters like none that came before them.

The Fedrule Govmint is melting down financially, and with those formerly engorged Fedrule teats now gone all but dry, our city and state governments, as well as our local school districts are now doing the previously unthinkable by instituting austerity programs. In fact, while the initial budget cuts may seem to be draconian in nature, they will easily be dwarfed by what is likely to follow.

My point?

Well, nothing really matters until we unceremoniously dump the clueless 'community organizer' chump from Chicago. Not really.

It's time to dispense with this foolish and destructive notion that only the recipients of entitlements and union members matter, and get this country back to work...back on it's feet.

As for the hordes of locals trying to get themselves elected in these denuded parts, until we dump that aforementioned chump in 2012 with all corresponding and thoroughly deserved glee, all that they need to do is tell us how we will balance our increasingly strained budgets. That is, how we'll do much less with less and less.

Other than that, I'm in a pretty good mood.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Zosh Road revisited

For Sale: Abandoned Encana fracking pad.

Plenty of available acreage. Plenty of residents still ready to accept gratuity checks. Plenty of smalltime politicians ready and willing to look the other way for a, ahem, percentage. And plenty of elected officials at the state and county level willing to endanger our water supplies for a cut of what has yet to be delivered.

To those of you still fighting the good fight, fight on!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I cannot speak for anyone else, but this Blogger platform has become increasingly unstable for me of late.

It started a couple of weeks ago when the posting of more than one picture became all but impossible. Soon afterward, posting a single picture became a tenuous chore.

The reason I switched to Blogger in the first place was to avoid having to deal with HTML and Javascript coding. But very recently, I've been repeatedly forced to alter the misapplied HTML in my posts.

Then some of you complained that I was blocking your ability to comment, when that was not the case. After quite a bit of head scratching and noodling around, we figured out that Blogger had changed the commenting process by intsalling spam filters. Something they failed to make reaily apparent to me.

So, now that we've bumbled our way through that morass, it has come to my attention that comments that were to have been deleted were actually published. And this is a first, a single comment was actually attached to two indiviual posts. (?)

Anyway, I have deleted the comments deemed to be offensive. And I have also suspended the ability for readers to comment, since I have now come to distrust this entire platform.

I've been writing on the Internet since December 2, 2000. And while we've explored many issues over these many years, never have we gotten into accusations that could not be proven, or anything that could be construed as personal in nature.

That was sound policy when I started, and nothing has changed.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bruce Simpson press release


APRIL 9, 2011




In an effort to revitalize both our economy as well as our areas that have fallen into a "blighted" status, Simpson is recommending the use of LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act) as a tool for achieving the above goals.

A major obstacle for business has always been that improvements both minor and major to their physical structures increases the value of the property and would or could lead to increased taxes being levied on the property at a time that they might not be able to afford it. LERTA allows local taxing entities under authority of Article VIII, Section 2(b)(iii) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to provide tax assistance in the following form:

"This act allows local taxing authorities to exempt improvement to business property IF SUCH PROPETY IS LOCATED IN A DETERIORATINAG AREA AS DETERMINED BY A MUNICIPAL GOVERNING BODY or is subject to a governmental order requiring the property to be vacated, condemned or demolished by reason of noncompliance with law, ordinance, or regulations.

Improvements eligible for tax exemption include, repair, construction, or reconstruction including alteration and additions having the effect of rehabilitating a structure so that it become habitable or acquires higher standards of safety, health, economic use or amenity, or is brought into compliance with governing laws, ordinances, or regulations." Tax exemption may be based on actual costs of the improvement or renovation, or a graduated tax increase each year for a maximum of ten years when the business would pay the full tax levied by the taxing authority from then on.

This program offers the County and municipalities a unique tool to encourage the revitalization of areas that are now producing little if any tax revenue and no jobs. With revitalized buildings, companies will reopen and employ people in need of jobs. If the owner of a building is interested in revitalizing a building they own, but not to reopen a business, they would be urged to put the building on the rental market for a company to move into.

Luzerne County would have to engage in a robust working arrangement with the various Chambers of Business and commerce to recruit outside companies to move into Luzerne County and create the badly needed jobs. How many buildings that now stand empty could house a call center? Hilton International closed their call center in Hazleton, laying off almost 140 employees and shipped the jobs overseas. Other companies have decided to locate their call centers here in Luzerne and a concerted effort can be made to attract new call centers into the area using various means.

Manufacturing jobs might be added to the county to manufacture the various parts for the wind turbine industry. One company is already operating in this field in Luzerne, why can't we bring in more of this type of job? Solar panel manufacturing plants would be another excellent industry to bring into the county.

A second program that might benefit the County is called PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) which essentially asks tax exempt organizations to make a voluntary payment to the County in recognition that they are legally exempt from taxes, but still benefit from municipal services. Any exempt organization including churches of all denominations can be asked to contribute in these tough times when funding is so badly needed to meet the requirements of government. They of course can say no, but the County should at least make the attempt to get voluntary donations while maintaining the integrity of their exempt status.

Luzerne County is currently engaged in these programs but increased use can and should be sought. Additionally KOZ, or Keystone Opportunity Zones need to be more vigorously promoted by the County in order to continue to add one more avenue for increased industry and jobs.


Intemperate musings

I really haven’t been in the mood for this during this past week.

Professionally speaking, I am on the verge of being overwhelmed. I’m almost in need of some Icy/Hot patches, and it’s early yet. That is to say, I’m fast approaching needing help from my sometime sidekick.

And if you know anything at all about termite biology, this makes no sense being that March was too cold to be conducive to termite activity.

With record high temperatures predicted for tomorrow, the swarms will begin in earnest. Wish me luck. Or ill. Don’t much matter to me.

Despite the fact that the out-of-control Fedrule Govmint is cooking the books whereas inflation, unemployment, deficits and the so-called “recovery” is concerned, we should all feel good that that very same government has set about to ruin Barry Bonds.

Priorities, people. Priorities.

Speaking of priorities, now that the promised government shutdown has been averted at the very last nanosecond, all that’s left to do is figure out which political party benefited by these needless experiments in politics as insanity. And that’s a tough one, iffin' you've been huffing kerosene.

Do the Democrats benefit because they have demonstrated that they will deficit-spend no matter what? And to the point of financial ruination?

Or do the Republicans benefit because they don’t want the Fedrule deficit to outnumber the number of heavenly bodies in the entire universe?

Well, since damn near all Americans seem to think they are entitled to all entitlements all of the time no matter what, I’d say the Democrats look good on this one. At least, until all of the unpaid debts come due.

Two weeks ago I spied a squirrel dragging a slice of pizza up the side of a tree. And wouldn’t you know it, it was at that exact moment when the batteries in my Kodak decided to make like a school teacher and go out on strike.

Assuming that squirrels have humps hidden somewhere under their fur, that squirrel was busting it’s hump. It was squirming and snorting and tugging and periodically stopping to catch it’s breath. And that’s when it hit me…

Remember when Americans used to work for their food?

To those who continue to belittle those who proudly identify themselves as members of the fledgling Tea Party, I offer the following…

While you may be able to demonize an individual, you cannot demonize millions of nameless and faceless Americans.

Knock yourselves out.

Move over Palin, here comes Trump.

Did “The Donald” dare to suggest that our current vacation planner-in-chief makes Jimmy Carter look like an award-winning economist by comparison?

Hurry up. Belittle him, too!

We got no need for no truth-telling at this point.

I keep telling Wifey that 102.3 FM, The Mountain, continues to take me back to places that I have not visited in a long, long time.

And today, while out and about, they hit me with some ancient John Lennon that went like this…

Father, you left me,

But I never left you

I needed you,

But you didn’t need me

I have not heard that since, well, since junior high when first it resonated deep within me.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Scott Koppenhofer press release

Hey Mark,

Just thought I would send you my press release that both papers have yet to print. I sent it in 2 times but they never ran it. But they did print the former fire fighters press release. Anyway, here it is.

Scott Koppenhofer is a candidate for the primary election for Wilkes-Barre City Council for District B. He is hoping that with new council members there will be new ideas that can be shared with the Mayor and we can work together to improve our city.

Scott, 41, is the Store Manager for AutoZone in Wilkes-Barre and has experience in retail management with stores operating with sales from 20-66 million dollars a year.

Scott has volunteered for the Alliance of Guardian Angels for the last 22 years and currently serves as the Pennsylvania Regional Director for chapters in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan and the southern tier of New York.

He graduated from Wyoming Area Senior High in 1988 where he then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He is a Veteran of Desert Storm and was Honorably Discharged from the Navy in 1994.

"I am not a politician but if appointed a seat on city council I will make myself available to the residents to listen to their concerns so that I can share them with the Mayor and fellow council members where we can work together to improve our city."

Scott feels that his experience with the Guardian Angels in the city, around the state and in surrounding states will help bring some suggestions to the city council and the Mayor which may help improve public safety. Also he believes his experience in retail stores operating with budgets greater than Wilkes-Barre City's budget will be a benefit when it comes time for budget approval.

"My most important concerns are the financial state of the city going forward considering the lack of government money that will be available and our public safety issues. We need to learn how to do more with less and without cutting necessary services and we need to put political parties aside to accomplish this task. I do not agree with every idea or agenda of any party but we all bring something to the table and need to work together to develop realistic plans that will help the city grow and improve."

Scott and his wife Dawn purchased a home in Wilkes-Barre City a year ago and they believe you should improve not move.


Scott is running for Wilkes-Barre City Council.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Facebook policy

Consider this a preemptive strike.

I think Facebook is the biggest waste of electronic ether since MySpace. Frankly, I am flat-out embarrassed to have my name listed on Facebook. This social networking claptrap should be beneath any adult that considers themselves to be from the northern quadrant of the Bell Curve.

I am a member of Facebook for two reasons. Firstly, I can keep up on the latest from my three children and five grandchildren. Secondly, I keep my name on there in the fast-diminishing hopes of meeting my father one day.

Anyway, here’s my point…

I do not intend to “friend” every candidate for elected office from every far-flung corner of this bucolic county. In fact, I seriously doubt that I will accept any friend requests coming from those who seek to run the world. There’s no need to take it personally, nor is there any concerted attempt on my part to shun any or all candidates.

My email address is prominently listed on this site. If you, as a candidate, want to strike up a dialogue or gain some exposure on this site, that’s the vehicle you ought to drive.

That’s all I got, my Facebook policy.


$4,780,960.00: Ignoring my neighborhood?

As is usually the case on a typical Saturday night, I played Civilizations IV into the wee, wee hours of the morning, all the while listening to the police scanner.

If I had to sum up what I like to call Corona Night in a single word, I’d have to go with idiocy. The police were going from one outbreak of idiocy to the next, with nary a moment’s rest. Altercations. Public drunkenness. And fun-filled combinations thereof.

This is anecdotal in nature, but a veteran scanner listener would probably call it a trend too consistent to not to be considered the norm. That is, when the police respond to bar brawls and start running identifications through the computer system, a great percentage of them come back as being suspended…D.U.I.-related.

The way I see it, if you’ve already lost your driving privileges due to excessive alcohol consumption, I’d say you’ve had enough bar hopping.

I know, I know. It must be me.

The cops say the Legion employees were sleeping in front of the wall of surveillance camera monitors. So then the Legion honcho says, no, the cops were sleeping in front of the monitors.

Again, is it me?

Let’s see, when you enter the main entrance to police headquarters, you are immediately confronted by the room where the wall of monitors is located. And the only thing between yourself and the monitors is a wall of glass.

So, yeah. If I’m an on-duty police officer, that’s the exact location I’d pick to nod off for a spell, right where the general public and members of the local media enter the structure. Yeah, that’s where I’d snooze.

Whatever, man!

With the exception of Karen Ceppa, all of the various and sundry candidates for Wilkes-Barre mayor and city council positions have adopted the tired ‘fix the neighborhoods’ bit as the anchors of their campaign platforms. Practically every candidate for any city office since 2004 has repeated this well-worn mantra because it’s easy and lazy.

We were told as recently as 2003 that our downtown was dead in the water, and that it would never again regain any semblance of it’s former glory. And now that those claims have been thoroughly debunked, I guess it does make some sense to take a contrary position as a way of appealing to voters.

So here we are a little more than a month away from voting for critical positions in the city, and we’re left to pick and choose from a lengthy list of contrarians. The downtown is booming, so somebody must be neglecting the neighborhoods. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

As I’ve said a number of times on these electronic pages, when I traverse my neighborhood--my voting district--I do not see these obvious signs of neglect no matter where I look. Sure, there are some properties that need attention. And we do have a smattering of drug houses and habitually problem properties. But in a country driven by unemployment payments and bath salts, what community doesn’t have it’s fair share of warts?

A good while back, I approached a high-ranking city official and requested a list of improvements made in the city since 2004. No small request, but unlike some here on the Internet might tell you, I did not have to contact a Philadelphia law firm to have my request for information fulfilled.

Anyway, I have city-wide data, as well as a list of improvements by voting districts. And so as to reduce my chances of coming down with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, I will list the improvements made in my voting district--District E.

Paving…total dollar value of paving (since 2004, mind you); $1,185,000.00, 21 streets, 4 miles.

North Main Street wall repairs…$150,000.00.

Court Street wall repairs…$25,500.00.

Upgrades to weir Street pump station and Brookside levee system…$220,000.00.

Murray-Courtright demolition…$1,500,000.00.

North Washington Street (temporary) bridge repairs…$50,000.00.

Catch basins repaired or replaced…210, $480,000.00.

Sewer repairs…$204,460.00.

Mill & Laurel Run Creek merge…$185,000.00.

Hollenback Golf Course…$650,000.00.

Hollenback firehouse…No dollar figure listed.

George Avenue sidewalks…$135,000.00.


Ongoing…construction of new homes and townhouses on Courtright Street.

Planned for 2011:

Construction of the Sidney Street bridge will begin in the fall…projected at $2,600,000.00.

Reconstruction of the Court Street wall.

Paving on North Washington Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.

That’s one district, folks. That’s my neighborhood. And that’s quite the financial outlay from an administration that supposedly, as the factually threadbare like to say, ignores the neighborhoods.

If some cheery candidate comes to your door looking to glad-hand, make them give you more than that factually incorrect “neighborhoods” spiel. Ask them if they’ll be able to increase upon the number of projects completed and the dollars already devoted to our neighborhoods while the state and Fedrule spigots run dry. And if they claim that they can, then ask them where the funding will come from.

Make them fidget and sweat.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Franklin's: 400 Kidder Street

They went and ripped down my Franklin's Alma mater...400 Kidder Street. I was there early this morning, watching the machinery tear through what little remained. And I was saddened by it.

Citizen's Voice: Shuttered W-B restaurant demolished

Yeah, that's me in the back and to the right. And assembled with me there on the front steps were a group of employees who were accompanying me to WVIA circa 1988 to answer phones during one of the television station's many pledge drives. Actually, we still have the broadcast video from that night that Wifey taped on VHS.

Oddly enough, the only part of the building that was still standing when I arrived this morning was my old office. Not sure if that has any significance, but this is the second time I've had to witness a restaurant--a building--being torn down that I absolutely loved working in. Percy Brown's, now Franklin's. And fortunately enough, the very last time.