Before you read the story I snagged from the Citizen's Voice, please inspect your respirators and be certain they that fit snugly. If you can breathe regularly and no odors are detectable inside your mask, proceed to the Voice story. Minority Commissioner Steve Urban has a nasty habit of laying some real stinkers to attract some attention from the media, but this one really, really smells.
Urban wants Wilkes-Barre City to hold special election to abide by referendum
By James Conmy, Staff Writer 03/03/2005
Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban is pushing for a special Wilkes-Barre City Council election this year to reflect changes voters approved in a 2001 election.
The referendum eliminated two council seats and replaced at-large elections with district-based seats for the remaining five members. A court case challenging the election, however, delayed the implementation of the new format, and voters elected seven, at-large council members in November 2003.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has since upheld the 2001 election results, and Urban believes the Luzerne County Board of Elections should force the city to implement the revised format.
If Urban succeeds, Council members Bill Barrett, Kathy Kane, Phil Latinski, Jim McCarthy, Michael McGinley, Tony Thomas and Shirley Vitanovec would have to seek re-election.
"The jobs of these council members have been eliminated, and there should be elections as soon as possible," Urban said Wednesday. "Upholding the law is five council members elected by district, not seven elected at large."
To defend his position, Urban cited another Commonwealth Court case where a Pittsburgh councilman was ordered to give up his seat after two seats were eliminated. The city's remaining seven seats also went to district-based elections.
"Commonwealth Court draws a distinction between a new home rule charter being adopted for the first time (Pittsburgh) and an existing charter changed by the vote of the people (Wilkes-Barre)," Urban said. "When an existing charter is changed by the people's vote, existing council members lose their jobs."
The city disagrees with Urban's argument.
"I respect Mr. Urban's legal opinion; however, the other case governs the City of Pittsburgh, which holds council elections every two years," Wilkes-Barre Solicitor William Vinsko said. "The councilman he refers to lost his seat two years after he was elected, but in a normal election year.
"The City of Wilkes-Barre will abolish two seats for the 2007 municipal election, its next election year."
Election Board Solicitor Neil O'Donnell would not comment on the validity of Urban or Vinsko's argument. The election board, consisting of Urban and fellow Commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid, will make a decision on how it plans to handle the issue, O'Donnell said.
"I think it is fair game, and we have an appellate court decision on the issue," O'Donnell said. "I will answer questions on the parameter of the board's authority."
Vonderheid is interested in O'Donnell and Vinsko's interpretations of the Commonwealth Court ruling. The issue will be discussed at Friday's election board meeting.
"I'm more focused on the way the decision deals with the districts and number of council members," Vonderheid said. "I don't recall a clause in the verdict that talked about a specific implementation time table.
"We'll deal with that as soon as counsel brings us a recommendation."
Candidates already are circulating nominating petitions for this year's May 17 primary election. The primary election would not impact the special election, Urban said.
The respective political parties could forgo the primary election by nominating candidates for a November general election, the commissioner said.
The issue also is complicated by the county's plan to eliminate 127 polling places, including 23 in Wilkes-Barre.
An apportionment commission chaired by Attorney John Moses divided the city into five districts. The plan was based on population and the city's 43 polling places.
"I have directed council not to adopt the districts pending the decision by the election bureau to change polling places in the city," Vinsko said. "Effectively, if the city adopts these districts, it's quite possible they can be changed without the benefits of a neutral committee and public input.
"The council members and the city are acting in the best interests of all residents so this next election reflects the changes made and is fair and unbiased."
If I didn't know better, I'd think somebody was playing a joke on us. Steve Urban demands a special election in Wilkes-Barre? Who the f**k does he think he's kidding other than the hopeless dolts and the failed, bitter politico wannabes that troll the polluted SAYSO waters?
He doesn't give a flying f**k about upholding the damn law in Wilkes-Barre. All that this easily flushable affront to my intelligence is about is getting his "activist" pals yet another shot at an elected office, sooner (2005) rather then later (2007). You know, those folks that fancy themselves as the selfless protectors of the powerless dimwits, i.e., the taxpayers, when they're not trying against the odds to get themselves elected to or appointed to something or other. You know, the taxpayer activists, i.e., the stealthy republicans.
Okay. Fess up, Stevie. Who needs a job? Who planted this ridiculous idea in yer ole noggin? Who is it? C'mon. Spill it, champ. Don't get all pissy and sh*t with me. It's not my f**king fault that you need a three-step step ladder to see what's on top of the fridge. Who's idea was it? Linda's? Christine's? C'mon little guy, you're not foolin' me one bit.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but weren't our council folks elected to four year terms in 2003? Hmmm? 2003 plus four equals 2007. Am I frickin' good or what?
Stevie, please stick to doing whatever it is that you do best. I'm sure you're good at something other than biting on the big people's ankles. So stick to that and allow us to manage our own city free from anymore of your far from transparent electioneering muckity-muck. Sorry, but you aren't near smooth enough to hoodwink the dumb masses...er, the dumb asses.
Who's running against this charlatan the next time around? I may be very interested in working for their campaign in an effort to unseat this amateur. Stay tuned on that.
By the way, is it too much to ask that city council determine the new city voting districts and make them law before Super Bowl 77? Is it?
I'm still trying to figure out just what it is that needs emergency repairing on this North Main Street wall of ours?
We had one Nord End resident disappointed with the lack of attention his "Save our firehouse" petitions got him, so he sicced the papers on the mayor over this stupid wall. Then, I came to learn that one of the leaders of our ineffective, if not neutered Nord End residents group was recently after the mayor for not seeking out federal or state funding as if this nondescript stone wall was a historic site worthy of an expensive taxpayer-funded preservation and a nifty historic plaque.
First off, if there's actually something wrong with this stupid wall, I can't seem to find it. Secondly, if there is something amiss with this asinine wall, I really don't give a rat's ass. Like that would be anywhere near the long, long list of things we need to do in this freakin' city. I'm not sure what the dated roach clips on N. Main Street reak of these days, but I'm beginning to think I'm missing out on something really, really special.
Can you even imagine trying to turn that, that into a newspaper story? Can you imagine trying to turn that into a political hot potato when we have so many more pressing issues? I can't. It's beyond me.
I 'member what we used to say at Franklin's after beating the drunken snot out of someone who desperately needed it at roughly three in the morning. Went something like this: There's no way you can convince assholes that they're not assholes. Meaning, there's no way to speak sense to the senseless. That's why we'd usually end up just pounding the snot out of 'em before the cops got there.
We weren't very polished in those days.
This is interesting. What we have here is a list of the projects that were completed during fiscal year '04 with Community Development Block Grant funds. The first page is a cover letter, with the other two pages actually listing what was accomplished. Note: The first listing of "Public Improvements" refers to paving projects. Take a gander at those last two pages and I'll catch up with ya on the tail end.
I didn't bother to get the final number on what was spent during '04, but let's just go with $2.5 million, which is probably close enough.
With a couple of million dollars at our disposal, you'd think the list of completed projects would be somewhat longer. Wouldn't you? I would have. I think what this shows us is that $2.5 million doesn't go quite as far as we thought or as far as we'd like it to. Sure, there's plenty of worthwhile and important things on that list, but there is still plenty to be done in this city.
Can we really afford to do with less CDBG funding from here on out?
Hey! Try this one on just for size. How about if we discontinue our financial support of the Osterhout library and fix that stupid wall? Or we do without an aerial ladder truck in our fire department and fix all the walls? Demolition of deteriorating structures that pose a risk to all who encounter them? Not! Screw that! Fix my wall or I'll call the newspapers!
Below you'll find the entire list of scheduled (hoped-for) CDBG funded projects for fiscal year '05, but take note on the very last page that our expected entitlement from the feds has already been reduced from $2,379,000 to $2,224,683. In other words, there's a good reason why the stupid wall must remain on the back burner for the time being.
These documents and many others like them were provided by The City of Wilkes-Barre, by which it's newfound transparency can only help to further educate that segment of the voting public that cares enough to investigate the important issues facing us all.
I snagged a snippet of this letter sent to the editors of the Voice by a person who attends every political meeting possible and treats every politician, save one who is a personal friend of hers, with as much disrespect as humanly possible. She calls WILK and babbles misrepresentations that cannot be challenged in such a forum. And she presumes to know much, much more about how government operates, or should operate, than any of her peers.
And then she wrote this embarrassing abomination and exposed herself as being totally clueless as to how Wilkes-Barre City operates.
I blame the condition of the fire stations on Wilkes-Barre's maintenance department, because small roof leaks should be addressed when they occur, not when they become gaping holes. It appears that none of the problems in the buildings had ever been reported by the firefighters to the maintenance department. I believe the firefighters also have a responsibility to report problems when they occur, before they become irreparable.
Linda J. Stets
The maintenance department??? I could be wrong, but I think she was being totally serious when she scribbled that cry for help. I'm freakin' tellin' ya. I really think she was serious. The maintenance department? That kinda went the way of the McDodo bird around the same time the Woolworth's luncheonette raised the price of their primo banana splits from $1.39 to $1.59.
It appears that none of the problems in the buildings had ever been reported by the firefighters to the maintenance department.
OH...MY...GOD! If she only knew how utterly clueless and completely stupid that groundless accusation is, she'd either change her name and appearance, or she'd move to Montana and start a mustard farm. The firefighters didn't report "small roof leaks?" Excuse my Yiddish, but holy fugging son-of-a-son-of-a-Senator's bastard of a son! What in the hell is she f**king going on and on about?
There's a reason why our ex-mayors Namey and McGroarty both neglected those firehouses. In Namey's defense, during his run as the city's top gun, the condition of most of them was not a very pressing issue. But he did try to reduce the size of our fire department during his stint as mayor. And less firefighters means less firehouses, does it not? He wouldn't have sunk much money into those firehalls while he was working to reduce the size of the department. A petition drive by the hose dudes put his plan out of it's misery. And then along came McGroarty.
He made no secret of the fact that he wanted to reduce the size of the fire department. And he tortured our firefighters. And he did whatever he could to make their lives miserable. And he screwed a few of them out of veterans benefits thay had rightfully earned. And he used them as errand boys. And he told the newspapers and us a spate of childish lies intended to damage the credibility of the fire department in the eyes of the city's residents. And he totally ignored the slipping conditions in a few of our fire stations, and obvious repairs that were needed in others. Many of those repairs are being addresses right now in our three surviving firehouses.
Our closed Northeast Station was known as "The Rain Forest" by anyone who knew anything about the city's operations and that included the mayor. Why the hell wouldn't he just throw a new roof on that twenty year-old fire station and save the place from ruination? Why? What the hell was he thinking?
He was thinking that if a few of them all but collapsed, or had to be condemned, he could make his case for a much smaller fire department to the taxpaying public. How could we justify having our contracted compliment of 88 firefighters when one or two of our firehouses were condemned, never to be reopened? Structurally speaking, he knew the Northeast Station was in some real trouble, but he wouldn't replace what was left of that swiss cheese of a roof. He knew what he was doing while the apparatus assigned to that place rusted away and it's resale value was reduced to mud.
But there came a day when we voted him out of office. And the new mayor was then faced with dealing with firehouses that hadn't been upgraded for decades on end. And two of them are in some serious trouble, despite what some of the politically-motivated folks up there in the thinner air are saying. McGroarty did nothing. Namey did nothing. And the guys that preceeded them did nothing. And yet, here we are in 2005 literally demanding that Tom Leighton fix all five of our firehouses in a matter of a few months with next to no available monies. Whatever.
And now Linda is clearly placing the blame for our long-festering firehouse troubles on a non-existant maintenance department, and a fire department that has taken enough abuse to qualify for battle pay at this point. Linda is just another local activist who presumes to know all that there is to know about our city and it's government, but knows not of which she so frequently speaks.
The maintenance department?
What a maroon!
What's this? New overhead doors at fire headquarters? Expensive repairs being undertaken at a city firehouse? It's how many years overdue? And which administration got it done?
Don't send your answers all at once.
The boys from Service Electric put about two miles of new wires and such in this place today. I'm a gonna see what kind of difference it made.