12-13-2003 Rent-A-McWreck

I had no idea that after I left in 1986 they would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates…. Clearly, my former Greenpeace colleagues are either not reading the morning paper or simply don't care about the truth.-— Patrick Moore, Greenpeace co-founder, writing in Canada’s National Post (October, 2001)

That's two now. The officials representing the city's employees are not very adept at public relations, are they? First we had the Teamsters, representing the DPW sick day-aholics filing a grievance because someone dared to care and cleaned but a miniscule piece of the city. That went over big out here where the silt covers almost the entire landscape. The DPW does not have enough manpower to clean this city and the city cannot afford to hire anymore DPW workers. In the meantime, the city gets shoddier looking with each passing day. But...if anyone dares to clean anything in the city, the Teamsters object to that? In other words, unless we're willing to raise taxes and funnel that money directly to the Teamsters, Wilkes-Barre should continue to look horrible with no help in sight. And these simpletons wonder why so many of us out here basking in reality tend to bash unions???????

Today, the Voice reports that the Local 1300, representing City Hall employees has encouraged those employees to ignore a questionaire sent to them by Mayor-elect Tom Leighton. The Voice reported that Leighton sent the letters so he could "become more keenly aware of employee perceptions and the functions they provide to the city." In other words, my words, the city and it's employees are being audited top to bottom. In a city that already qualifies for Act 47 status, nothing less than a top to bottom audit of city operations should be expected from a new mayor promising to move the city forward. Apparently, the words "efficent" and "cost effective" do not sit well with the President of the Local 1300. I'm guessing he'd prefer to hear "status quo," "tax increase," or "new hires," while Wilkes-Barre ponders whether it can cover the next two payrolls. What's not to bash?

Over the course of the past troubled year or so, I've met many of the unionized city employees and I like, respect and enjoy the company of most of them. We've got some truly good unionized people working for this city, many of which supported Tom Leighton while he battled the forces of incompetance. I want to see those very same people become part of the solution and not the next hurdle that needs to be cleared. And I also don't want to see those people being viewed as villains by the taxpaying residents of this city. And...and they need to understand that Wilkes-Barre is well, well beyond broke right now and they need to be intensely aware of exactly what light their union representatives are casting them in right now. We've got average residents excited for once and ready to get involved, but if the union reps plant the seed in the residents minds that city employees are greedy or worse; the spirit of cooperation and selfless volunteerism could evaporate overnight. We cannot allow that to happen. If we're ever going to turn that elusive corner, we won't be able to do it without an overwhelming rush from the nobodies to finally take pride in their communtity. I'm just sayin'. Let's not drive a wedge between the residents and city employees when what the city needs most is a temporary dose of austerity.

You'll not see nothing like The Mighty Quinn. Oops! Let's try that again. You'll not see nothing like The Mighty Quint.

An e-mail from a hose dude:

*******Got a good laugh when reading the article in the paper. Just a few months ago, no longer than a year, we had a repo- Quint from Moosic sitting on the apparatus floor at fire headquarters. The quint, a 100' platform, 200gpm pump and all the bells and whistles(generator, lights, cascade, hydraulics, 8 man cab, AC, etc.) and "we" didn't want it, most likely, because it was red.

The thing cost in the area of $350,000. This was an upgrade from our current truck. So, we settle for a new 75' wannabe(though new has a nice ring to it). Can you say, "Hovercraft Part II".

Don't get me wrong, our fleet needs serious updating, as well as, the police and DPW vehicles. PLEASE, just once somebody use your head.*******

Another e-mail on the same subject:

*******You are right on point about the mayor and his comments regarding the FEMA Grant to help purchase a new ladder truck. I just can't believe that a city that must depend on one ladder will only purchase a 75 foot ladder. If that is true somebody really goofed. I hope the mayor realizes that if this truck does not meet ISO standards to be considered a ladder truck that at some point in the future the city's ISO rating will drop. Of course by that time he will be just a bad memory and the new mayor will have to deal with the fallout. I assume this truck will be a " Demo model". Nothing wrong with that if you get the equipment that you really need on it and it meets the specifications that were publicly advertised by the city in May of 2002. It would be interesting when the new truck arrives to compare the specs to the actual truck. I believe that Edwardsville just received a 100 foot ladder at a cost of about a half million. Maybe with some luck, KME the manufacturer of that truck, has a twin demo waiting in the wings for WB. Take a look at KME's website which lists some of their demo models.*******

I don't know that much about the grant process, but I suspect that the folks presently running Wilkes-Barre into the ground don't fully understand it either. Why is it that Edwardsville and Kingston can acquire better firefighting equipment than we can? How is it that Plymouth has a hovercraft four times the size of our die-caste version? Why does Swoyersville have brand new garbage packers, while our cast-offs from New York City lie in pieces at the DPW junk yard? Why does every surrounding community have shiny, new equipment, while Wilkes-Barre has mostly Army surplus garbage? While the wheels have certainly come off of our city, the city's fleet of vehicles makes the city's physical condition almost appealing. I haven't bothered to fully study the various grant programs available to the city, but it seems to me that no one at City Hall has either. Unless, of course, if getting less than what we really need is somehow considered progress in someone's imploding universe.

Thanks to Kasia Kopec, of The Times Leader fame, I began my day chuckling in the dark at 5:30 am. Her article, McGroarty's prizes are Leighton's lemons had me begging for more this morning. To read of a mayor defending his habit of buying and then presiding over Rent-A-Wrecks was just too much that early in the morning. I absolutely loved this snippet from mayor McJunk:

Now there are people who think new is always better...

That would be me! Gosh, I'm stupid! I don't understand how government operates, right, mayor McTAN?

New? Point them out! We'll re-educate those illiterate lot lizards one and for all. New? Who in the heck could prefer new vehicles, when so many WWII Army surplus vehicles are readily available? Some people just don't understand the bigger picture. Why the hell would we want to purchase new vehicles and have the city's six mechanics maintain them, as the city once did, when we could be buying spent vehicles and then expect one lone mechanic to keep them roadworthy? See that! We really don't understand how government operates on the mayor's home planet. I believe he's from Pluto, but I'm fuzzy on that. What in the hell is he talking about? This can't be real. Kasia made up those quotes. No elected official could dare to sound that stupid. Could they?

Here we go again. It speaks:

I hope we never have to use it. But isn't it better to be prepared for a disaster, just in case?

Disaster? This guy has been preparing for disasters for eight years and he never managed to notice the impending disaster surrounding him. We have trailers filled with sandbags, but we can't manage to clean or properly police our dwindling downtown. His complete lack of focus is record-shattering. What we needed was new light standards, but instead we received WPUU. What we needed was police cars that didn't drop five quarts of oil all at once on the tarmac, but instead received Emergency Management Communication vehicles, or some such mental patient clairvoyance.

It gets worse. Another snippet from the Voice story:

Police cars are easy, they cost about $18,000.

Is that so? Then please explain to us why our copper dudes are driving vehicles that couldn't pass a legitimate inspection at Pep Boys? In all honesty, I find it refreshing when I happen upon a city police car that doesn't have a headlight, a taillight or a brakelight burned out. Isn't it interesting that when the new Impalas arrived, not all of them went to our police department that constantly tries to find a driveable car for each on-duty officer. Close to half of them were assigned to the mayor and his closest supporters and are parked at private residences every night. Police cars are easy? This guy is having a serious problem dealing with the reality that he alone created.

Believe it or not, he actually mentioned the city's I.S.O. rating again. He's way out there at this point. Nobody knows, nor cares what the I.S.O. rating is all about when bullets are flying around the city, when trash is piled in our empty downtown, and when our city has been reduced to being the laughingstock of the state. I'd say "He's got to be kidding," but I think that he actually believes he's done something good here during the past eight years. Is it time for a reality check?

And what of his I.S.O. comment?

That's something people can't see, but it makes a big difference.

From what I can see, nothing he has done has amounted to a big difference, positively speaking, of course.

Leighton's lemons. I love it! If I'm beginning to find some humor in all of this, maybe there is an actual light at the end of the tunnel.

Only in Wilkes-Barre

The amazing grandson, Gage Andrew, was visited by his cousin Mason last night and for the very first time; he came very close to getting himself beaten. Boys will be boys, heyna?

Settle down BOY!

Gage has a cold and his sister, Taylor Kate, is so ill that I am actually worried and advised her mom to seek medical attention if her condition does not significantly improve during the next 24 hours. Due to the illnesses the little ones are suffering with, the entire crew packed up and headed back to Pottsville tonight. BIG bummer. No Sunday morning walkabout to Oh Yes. No bagels. No Matchboxes. No Dum Dums. No little buddy.

I guess I'll have to be content with some copious amounts of trendy agricultural amusements and some very loud music.

Live from Thompson Street!

It's Saturday night!