6-10-2005 I believe

Now, the biggest obstacle that we must overcome is the negative attitude of a small, but pervasive, segment of our population.

These people who are petty, jealous, constantly complaining and always negative do not share the dreams and goals of the people standing here with me today.

OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT and we cannot let the lack of enthusiasm of a few ... darken the future for us all.--Mayor Tom Leighton

Yes, I attended the mayor’s big press conference at Genetti’s yesterday. And, yes, I too expected to hear of some new brick and mortar endeavor in Wilkes-Barre.

But, unlike practically everyone else around me, I did not allow the growing hype and emotional exuberance to get the best of my thought processes. Remember…my only guess as to what “unbelievable” might amount to concerned something, Musikfest, that the mayor had previously expressed an interest in bringing to Wilkes-Barre. In my mind, some of the guesses I heard were, well…outlandish. New jobs? What was he supposed to announce? That a major manufacturer was coming to a city that lacks enough open space to accommodate a major manufacturer? That a shuttered Public Square bank would be turned into a new enterprise and in the process create 200 new jobs? Take another look at that smallish building. I doubt we could fit 200 malnourished people in there even if we stripped them naked and covered them in Vaseline. Sounds like fun, though. Dorney Park was moving to Coal Street Park? Think, people. It doesn’t hurt.

“Under-whelming” was being tossed around on WILK today as a way of summing up the mayor’s big announcement in one word. Fine. After the week-long build-up and the press frenzy, I guess it’s fair to say that what he had to say did not come close to living up to the massive hype. Yeah, the speculating had gone way off the known scale. And, yes, the great expectations might have gotten a bit overblown. And with all of that said, yes, the mayor should bare the brunt of the blame for all of that fun while it lasted. But blame for what?

For single-handedly forcing all local eyes upon Wilkes-Barre while he delivered what could only be described as an impassioned plea to all to believe that Wilkes-Barre not only is inching back from that frightening abyss, but that it has plenty of reasons to be upbeat about it’s chances all of a sudden? An all-of-a-sudden two years in the making. Of his making.

A guy in work called yesterday’s event a “pep rally,” and he meant it in a very, very negative way. And then he launched into an anti-Leighton diatribe for my benefit. So, I dialed the mayor’s cell phone number, got him on the phone, (Sorry, Tom) told him that one of my co-workers was lighting his ass up, and then turned to Mr. Negativity and asked him if he wanted to talk directly to the mayor. Guess what his reply was. You got it, he cooled his jets faster than Rosie O’Donnell can inhale a gross of Twinkies. And get this, this is fu>king rich--the guy doesn’t even bother to vote.

Is that all it was? A pep rally? If so, it was a god damned good one and it received maximum exposure from the local press. If nothing else, Tom Leighton let the entire county know that he believes in Wilkes-Barre.

I know damn well that if he had announced that the Great Pyramids of Egypt were going to be relocated to River Street next year, the mentally vapid hammerheads among us would have cried foul because of the potholes. Or, if he had announced that every single street in this city would be paved next year, the remaining hammerheads would then cry foul for lack of a single pyramid in the city.

Now, the biggest obstacle that we must overcome is the negative attitude of a small, but pervasive, segment of our population.

So…to hear the madmen tell it on WILK today, he’s a spud because Borders, Dorney Park and Boeing will not be coming to Wilkes-Barre anytime soon. Yeah, for nearly six hours today, Tom Leighton was ripped to freaking shreds on WILK. Actually, just after 6 AM, I was about ready to rip someone to shreds when Kevin Lynn called Leighton’s speech, “whiney and defensive.” He also referred to it as being, “small town…small time.” He added, “My only complaint was the defensive attitude.” And then after about an hour of listening to the “petty, jealous, constantly complaining” callers, he suddenly softened his stance and made a crack about understanding Leighton’s frame of mind while heading into a commercial break.

And, yes, I called it. I was a day off, but I called it. No sooner had Sue Henry donned her zircon-encrusted headset, Walter Griffith was on the blower and repeating his ridiculous and vacuous assertion that to bring Wilkes-Barre back we need to “fix the neighborhoods first.” Yeah, that’ll get Raytheon to building missiles in the Nord End. Look…we fixed that broken curb, replaced the nets at the basketball court, and removed that unsightly building on Courtright Street. Yeah, baby! We’ll all be building Patriot missiles just off of Linden Street after this guy joins the early retirement party at City Hall . If inane platitudes is what you seek, vote for this pretender.

So…Leighton was sliced and diced every which way from 6-11:45 AM. I was the one who called him and told him to tune in to WILK (Sorry Tom) as the big announcement was THE topic of the day. But twenty minutes in, after all of his appendages were violently removed and fed to the multitude of unlicensed dogs of the city…I honestly hoped that he had gotten sidetracked by important city business and was no longer to privy to the bloodletting that he really didn’t deserve.

Putting all of the media hoopla and the feeding frenzy of great expectations aside, what did he really do wrong? He dared us to step forward and proudly proclaim, “I believe…in the City of Wilkes-Barre.” I, for one, would be proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him and make that very same proclamation in public. But, I understand that bringing a third-class city back from the edge of the grave is a financial balancing act not for the faint of heart. I know that before Wilkes-Barre can walk, it has to crawl just a bit longer. And if it will in fact run one day, it has to believe that running is actually possible. To hear the numbskulls on WILK tell the tale, Wilkes-Barre has no future until it patches the potholes, trims the weeds and imprisons both city council and our current mayor.

Now, the biggest obstacle that we must overcome is the negative attitude of a small, but pervasive, segment of our population.

After listening to the endless parade of less than enlightened bullspit this morning, I have come to the conclusion that the demographics of the city are as follows:

Elected officials: 9

All-knowing activists: 19

Negative nincompoops: 15,000

Urban planning experts: 15,000

Responsible voters: N/A

Consider this unmitigated nonsense. We, as in, Tom Leighton, just devoted $50 million over the next five years to our fire department. And what dominated the news reporting of such a positive announcement?

From the Times Leader:

But neither the activists nor the council members who demanded the plan during a council meeting last month were happy with what they received. And some say the fight for a fire station in the Heights is not over.

“We’re still going to keep it up,” said Denise Carey, who has led residents in their fight for a reopened station. The Heights station was closed “temporarily” about seven months ago and permanently Wednesday.

“I’m not surprised, but we will not stop,” Carey said. “We have another town meeting planned for June 17 and we’ve talked about picketing Leighton’s house, so I guess we’ll have to do that.”

Carey also said she and others are putting together petitions for a referendum that would change the city’s system of government from “strong mayor” to “strong council” and said, “That’s the only way we’ll get change, is to take all this power out of the hands of one person.”

For such a referendum to reach the ballot, 975 people (equal to 10 percent of the city voters in the last gubernatorial election) would have to sign petitions demanding it.

Great! Just what this city needs. Even more loose cannons running around with ill-advised referendum petitions in their hands. Lately, in this city, referendums are like assholes: seemingly everybody’s got one. Consider the sources. Okay. The reduction of council thing turned out to be a bummer for many. Oh, and the still up in the air redistricting thing now looks like a healthy pile of horse manure. Yeah, and that petition to reduce the salaries of the elected went down faster than a B-17 over Dresden short both of it’s wings. But…now we need another petition designed to turn the entire city government on it’s pointy little head? Is it any real wonder that Tom Leighton seems frustrated by the abject negativity at times?

If I may, I would suggest to the most vocal, the most obstinate and the most short-sighted of the disgruntled Heights residents that she should consider a pearl of wisdom offered forth by one Margaret Thatcher before she sets her political sails for the Utopian atoll:

Consensus is the negation of leadership.

Take that one back to the bar, honey.

Maybe Tom Leighton was indeed foolish to believe that his unbridled enthusiasm for our city’s chances would immediately become infectious for those of us that can’t see past that destructive negativity that hovers incessantly between their eyes and the uplifting reality nearly at hand.

Maybe, just maybe, he grossly, grossly overestimated our collective capacity to put aside our completely dimwitted and well-entrenched capacity for self-loathing when he asked us to believe not only in our city, but ourselves to boot.

Maybe he could have managed this entire “unbelievable” press event much differently and, in effect, escaped the wrath of the consistently vocal folks who know not what to do, only what not to do.

Maybe he deserves better than the lot of us.

All I know is…call it what you will, but he managed to pull off quite the unprecedented publicity stunt, for lack of a better term. And he stood before the assembled crowd of hopeful hoi polloi nobodies, his fellow politicos, the high-falootin’ movers and shakers, the television cameras, the radio celebrities, and the newspaper scribblers; all in an attempt to put the entire area on notice that not only does he believe in Wilkes-Barre, but the rest of us have plenty of reasons to do likewise.

Fact is…I believe, too.

I believe we’ve got tons of barely tapped potential.

I believe that we’re definitely headed in the right direction.

I believe that many more unexpected obstacles will appear in our way.

I believe that Tom Leighton is more than capable of overcoming those unforeseen obstacles.

And I believe that without Tom Leighton calling the shots, sooner or later, we’d all be living elsewhere.

Basically…I believe.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

Remember back when I had said things would get worse before they get better. Well, with the mayors announcement yesterday, things are definitely getting better. I am not totally happy with fire house placement but, your fire fighters will make it work.
I also think that the announcement was strategically planned with a clue as to what today's major announcement will be. But I could be wrong on that.

Bill Ulichney

Okay. Your prediction was wrong…too! Join the largest club in NEPA.

Dude, I gotta tell you. The one variable rarely discussed during this entire firehouse closing brouhaha was the undeniable fact that the professionalism of our fire department will overcome whatever happens to be thrown in it’s way. Anyone who knows anything about the folks that do what y’all do would have to feel good about your ability to adapt to a changing reality. Well…to a point, that is.

You know what I mean.

You simply have to attend this event. Right?

YOU’RE INVITED TO…

The Luzerne Foundation's

Operation Thank You!

JOIN US!

Operation Thank You! will be a community-wide recognition and thanks to ALL of our local troops AND their families for their service to our community – both overseas and closer to home. All of us are deeply indebted to ALL of them for the security and protection they provide both to our community and our nation. Bring your family, friends and colleagues. All are welcome!

The Luzerne Foundation's
Operation Thank You!
Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14th
Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre
Free General Admission

6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Fun, Food and FIREWORKS
Entertainment and music including Jamie McLean, The Wyoming Valley Band and X
Country, and Other Special Events and Family Attractions

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Program and Military Recognition
Master of Ceremonies
Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Perugino

Invocation – Msgr. Andrew J. McGowan

Multi-Service Honor Guard

Pledge of Allegiance – Baker and Karpowich Families

National Anthem – Clark Luis

Welcome from The Luzerne Foundation
Recognition of the Event
The Hon. William W. Scranton, III

Presentation of Mary Bevevino Community Service Award
The Luzerne Foundation’s Board of Directors
Recognition of Troops, Families and Businesses

Keynote Address
The Hon. Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Operation Thank You! Scholarship Fund *
Philip Decker, Vice Chairman – The Luzerne Foundation

Closing Thanks!
Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Perugino
God Bless America

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Fun, Food and Entertainment
FIREWORKS at Dusk!! *******

They were there, protecting our freedom. They were there, keeping us safe. They were there, away from their families, coworkers and loved ones. Will you be there to support them?

Operation Thank You! is a special project of The Luzerne Foundation, honoring all active and reserve Luzerne County veterans, their families and the employers who all sacrificed so that we as a nation can be free. Show our veterans that we care--be there at Kirby Park June fourteenth from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m... There'll be free admission, music, good food, fun and fireworks!

They'll be there, will you? ********

Thanks to the assistance and support of so many individuals and businesses from throughout Luzerne County, The Luzerne Foundation has established the Operation Thank You! Scholarship Fund. This Fund will provide scholarship assistance to qualified veterans and their immediate family members from units based in Luzerne County. Additional tax-deductible contributions are warmly encouraged and gratefully accepted.
Please contact The Luzerne Foundation at 570-822-5420 or info@luzfdn.org for more details.

***************

Kayak Dude sent along this news bit from WTOPNEWS.COM. WTOPNEWS.COM? What in the muck is that?

Acid Mine Drainage: Susquehanna's 'Unknown Danger'

Updated: Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2005 - 1:46 PM

Derek Williams, WTOP Radio
Colleen Kelleher, wtopnews.com

WASHINGTON - A small part of northeastern Pennsylvania is causing big problems for the Susquehanna River.

"A portion of the Susquehanna River that flows through the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania provides for the majority of the impurities and problems of not only the Susquehanna but also the Chesapeake Bay," says Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa.

"When you clean up those two elements -- combined sewer overflow and acid mine drainage in the coal regions of northeastern Pennsylvania -- you're going to go a long way to cleaning up the industrial pollution of the Chesapeake Bay."

The Wyoming Valley in the Middle Susquehanna subbasin includes Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Carbondale and Sunbury.

The valley churned out coal that fueled America's Industrial Revolution before the mines shut down. Those mines have long been abandoned, but their 3,000 miles of underground tunnels -- some of them 5,000 feet below ground -- are still causing problems, Kanjorski tells WTOP.

Kanjorski describes the problems along the Susquehanna River along Wilkes-Barre and along the Lackawanna River through Scranton as "a hidden, unknown danger way up stream that nobody knows about."

Water from a fallout of the Susquehanna's bottom entered and flooded the tunnels. That fresh water is flushing out heavy metals and toxic pollutants. According to Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River Basin Commission, acid mine drainage is the source for more than 70 percent of the stream impairment in the Middle Susquehanna subbasin.

Kanjorski says the acid mine drainage that's turned the streams orange is an issue that's overlooked, one that would cost roughly $500 million to clean up.

"Even when you talk to federal agencies, they look at this as so expensive -- $400 million - $500 million. There are never any funds made available that would even begin to attack this problem," he says.

The other problem for the Susquehanna and the Lackawanna, its largest tributary, deals with communities that use combined sewage overflow systems where storm sewers are combined with sanitary sewers. When rains and snow melts flow into the storm sewers and overload treatments plants, the untreated sewage is discharged into the river. Infrastructure that is old complicates the problems and so does community growth. "The investments made in sewage systems, treatment systems and combined sewer overflow systems have not kept pace with what they should if we are really intending to clean up the Chesapeake Bay," Kanjorski says.

Kanjorski describes the money going into piecemeal efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay as "somewhat like cleaning the tires on your car but not patching the defects in the tire or addressing the flatness of the tire."

He estimates it would cost around $70 million to clean up the Susquehanna's combined sewer overflow problems.

"We can get to 85 percent of solving that problem with the investment of about $30 million. It's obviously a good investment," he says.

Cleaning up the Lackawanna River, he says, probably would cost about the same amount. He says those clean-up funds would take care of "the infusion of bacteria and viruses in the water."

"The Susquehanna River lends itself to good treatment because the process of solving that problem is not that expensive and it would give us a great laboratory to show the effectiveness of this investment of a small amount of dollars to attain significant improvements, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay."

Money is being spent in small increments in Kanjorski's district to make improvements along the river. He says a $250 million levy system has been completed. About $45 million has been spent on a secondary treatment system and $7 million on combined sewer overflows.

"You could never raise enough money to clean up the Chesapeake Bay at the Chesapeake Bay," Kanjorski says. "We have spend and be intelligent in our expenditures to clean up the tributaries that bring the water and bring the filth to the Chesapeake Bay, and when we do that, we're going to have a major impact on it."

It’s high time that we cover what was probably the most off the wall prediction of what Mayor Leighton was going to announce before he finally went and did it.

My trusty sidekick who has swallowed and snorted much of the same concrete dust that I have bravely predicted that Tom Leighton’s big, big announcement would be that Wilkes-Barre Online would be named Wilkes-Barre’s “Blog of the Year.”

Obviously, that never came about. So, in other words…WRONG!!!

WRONG!!!

Nobody got it right. Well, that is, except for Tom Leighton.

As for me…I believe.

I do.

Later

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