ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹf a that ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Cupcake" or: disrespect begets disrespect

This is fun.

According to the CV's Politics Blog on May 4 mayoral challenger Charlotte Raup scheduled a "mystery press conference" for Thursday, May 5, only to cancel it later in the day. According to her, it was to be an "important" press conference. The only hint she floated was when she said “they’re trying to bully me.” Ah, we're playing the chick card, are we? Oh, and the "important" press conference has yet to be rescheduled.

Allow me to venture a wild guess.

Uh, perhaps she put too much hope and too much stock in this fledgling but soon-to-be short-lived Internet assassin who portends to know and who promises he'll prove that Mayor Tom Leighton is a thief.

Honestly, I know full-well that Charlotte Raup is deep-down, a caring, outgoing and engaged person. She deeply cares about Wilkes-Barre and she has proven as much over the years. I even volunteered to help her when she sought a seat on City Council. At the time, I thought she deserved a shot at Wilkes-Barre's managerial lower tier.

But the thing is, by running for mayor armed with her resume and experience, she is seriously overreaching. And with the country teetering on the 'hope & change' abyss, with funding sources drying up, with the state and the Feds both flirting with insolvency, now is not the time to elect a newbie to lead this city into a very uncertain future.

The way I see it, we've already got a guy who led us into an uncertain future and passed with flying colors, Tom Leighton.

Now, before you go repeating that well-worn bit about how someone has ignored the neighborhoods, know that neighborhoods do not generate income. In actuality, neighborhoods consume a great majority of  a given municipality's income, assuming said municipalities actually generate any income to speak of.

So, if you're elected mayor in a town that has millions of dollars in unpaid, overdue debts, a bond rating in the dumpster and your primary producer of income--your downtown--vacant, what should you do?

Well, to listen to Charlotte as well as the rest of the mayor's vacuous critics tell the tired tale, he should have focused his efforts on the neighborhoods. More specifically, on their neighborhoods. The only problem is, neighborhoods cannot hope to match the income potential of a thriving downtown. Payroll taxes. Mercantile taxes. Transfer taxes. Parking receipts. Neighborhoods offer next to none of these much-needed proceeds.

So, if you hope to take back the streets, if you want to purchase new apparatus, if you need to make infrastructure upgrades, you need to be filling the city's coffers to make all of the above and much, much more possible.

Note the history of the city since it was rebuilt following the Agnes flooding. The downtown went belly up, the city's financial wheels came off, and everything deemed to have slipped slipped because of a lack of financial wherewithal.

And the quickest way to reverse the slide? Fill the city's long-empty coffers. Namely, get that downtown producing all over again. And we did. Or, the mayor did. And where once the downtown caused the whole shebang to slip all around it, now it will  prove to be the catalyst for better times to all that surround it.

It's simple economics, folks. Library branches, civic centers and police substations do not generate income, booming downtowns in small cities do. And if your small city is broke when you take office, where would you start? Rather, where should you start?

Anyway, Charlotte Raup is, in my opinion, good people.

It's just that she's not mayoral material.

As for Bob Kadluboski's high-profile assertion that the salaries and pensions of our elected officials in the city are bankrupting us, I respectfully disagree. Well, a little bit.

I have no problem with the salaries of our mayor, our 5 city council folk and our controller. Off the top of my blockhead, these salaries amount to far less than $200,000 a year. That's $200,000 culled from an operating budget of $43.8 million in 2011. Do the math. Figure the percentage.

What I do take serious issue with is any elected official in this city drawing a generous pension after only 20 years as an elected official. The previous mayor served 12 years as a part-time councilman, 8 years as mayor, and now he's drawing a $40,000 yearly pension? Sorry, but that's a rip-off no matter which way you spin it. And our current mayor is also going to partake of this overly-generous pension.

A pension built primarily on part-time work? And they don't even belong to a union? Sorry and all, but that's highway robbery. That has to change. And in that, Bob and I are allies.

Bob recently approached me and said we need to get together and discuss why I've been giving him a hard time on this here forum of mine. In my mind, I have not given him a hard time. It's just that, showing up at every council meeting and starting the same confrontation with the same city officials is redundant to the point of being annoying. I applaud his tenacity. But I don't see the point in the continuing dust-ups.

But I also need to point out that while his redundancy is apparent, that is no reason for city officials to feel free to publicly insult him by way of the "cupcake" comments. Give him his 5 minutes of fame all over again. And again and again and again. Gavel him away as soon as his clock expires. Then make like a class act and thank him for his concerns.

Thing is, if I called a customer a "cupcake," I'm absolutely certain that my boss would have a big, big, big problem with that. And as a resident, one of many of the elected officials' bosses, I demand that they too abide by the accepted rules of decorum.

Anyway, enough with the public show of disrespect.

Perhaps Bob and I should work together on a public referendum question concerning the pensions of our elected officials. Up or down? Yes or no?

Do short-term, part-time employees deserve handsome pensions?


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