12-15-2003 Public Relations 101 anyone?

[Earth First!] had become militant vegan feminist witches for wilderness. People wanted to talk about tree-spiking and bombing, not ecosystems.-— Earth First! co-founder Howie Wolke on why he quit the organization, in the March/April 2000 issue of Sierra, the Sierra Club’s magazine

I'm Saddam Hussein. I'm the president of Iraq and I'm willing to negotiate.--Hole Boy

Yet another coward who encites Jihadists to martyr themselves, but prefers capture at the hands of the dreaded Americans to martyrdom for himself. Negotiate this! Somehow, the fact that the proponents of Jihad that are screaming the loudest are well removed from the violence never seems to dawn on the folks strapping the C-4 to their abdomens. Basically, those brave martyrs are chumps and their leaders are pussies. Is that assessment very far off? Enough with those fools and their centuries old quest.

Three of our council members and our controller felt the need to attend the recent League of Cities conference in Tennessee? Try as they may, they'll never be able to justify that expense in the minds of the taxpayers, while the city faces an uncertain financial future. There's no way. I'm not saying they weren't productive. Maybe this conference was one sprawling affair and they spread out and tried to absorb as much as they could before returning to Wilkes-Barre. Maybe not. Even if they did, the timing of this trip was horrible being that Walter, Claire and Christine are circling like vultures over City Hall and just praying for some issue to raise hell with at the next council meeting. In my mind, this trip served to throw more fuel on the fire for those taxpayer watchdogs/candidates in waiting among us, and quite frankly, I'm so tired of picking up a newspaper, or turning on my beloved WILK only to have Wilkes-Barre ridiculed yet again.

No, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but why send 4 of our 9 elected officials to the same conference when the unwashed masses out here are waiting to see all of this fiscal responsibility that we were promised for much of 2003? Why invite the criticism that was sure to follow? Why help to generate the headlines that will only serve to perpetuate Wilkes-Barre's image as one screwed-up place led by greedy folks that really don't care? Come on, council! I know you folks have to be glancing at the SAYSO pages on occasion in order to catch a snippet of the prevailing attitude out here. And you know that Walter and Claire are going to be jumping up and down while posing for the cameras if any of you dare to as much as jaywalk.

We can clean the streets and we can plant flowers. We can resurrect the copper dude bike patrols, put a few on scooters and then set them loose in our downtown. We can promise a new theater and much more to come afterwards. But in the meantime, can we do what we can to see to it that Wilkes-Barre's image is not further bloodied in the press? As we rapidly zoom in on 2004, the mood in this town is suddenly upbeat and hopeful. I want that feeling to continue without any further blemishes staining the city's reputation, or draining the newly found enthusiam many residents are feeling. Our new mayor has been busting his tail for 12 months and people are starting to believe that we're headed for better things, so why encourage criticism and generate more negative press now? Why?

"Gee whiz! I sure hope we make the city's last two payrolls. If you need us, we'll be in Tennessee," sure works to re-enforce the image that some have of our council as being folks that are in it for themselves. Paying a bit more attention to the public's perceptions, right or wrong, would benefit all of us right now. Perception is reality for many of those among us. If we're all supposedly working to rehabilitate our city's putrid image, this isn't how I envisioned going about it.

In the future, maybe all of our council members recently returned from expensive junkets should be forced to publish a maticulously detailed report of what they learned while out and about at the taxpayer's expense. Such reports could prove to the general public that the trip's in question were well worth the expense. Conversely, they could also serve to prove that the trip's are a needless expense. Basically, the published, blow-by-blow reports would amount to holding our council members more accountable, and I'm sure they wouldn't have a problem with that. Would they?

After reading yesterday's Voice story Leighton targets city's non-profits, it was interesting to guage the reaction to Leighton's revenue generating ideas from the Wilkes-Barre residents I work with. Turns out, the boys were 100% in favor of Leighton's ideas. We've all read that the city is comprised of 52% tax-exempt properties, but I wasn't sure how the hoi polloi would react to pressuring non-profits within the city for more of what would be their fair share. It was also interesting to read that the non-profits themselves directly targeted by Leighton didn't react negatively. He keeps repeating himself when he says that some tough and possibly unpopular decisions may have to be made soon. So far, as he has been honest about what those decisions might have to be, everyone has remained calm in the face of those possibilities. Yeah, a couple of union reps have made the mistake of alerting us to the fact that their employees come first and the future of the city comes second, but with all of the rumors currently swirling around the city, things have been quite muted. We shall see how long that continues. When the results of that forensic audit come due early next year, the honeymoon may be over.

Another Voice article that caught my eye was W-B takes properties to pave way for bridges. This interested me only because I happen to reside in a city in which our mayor has been preoccupied with preparing for calamitous natural disasters and terrorist attacks for eight years, and managed to accomplish little more than deploying sandbag carts. We're going to replace four bridges that run over Solomon Creek, but we're going to eliminate three tax generating properties in the process? It seems as if every other decision made in this city results in less income flowing into the city's coffers. Here we go again, heyna? Why not eliminate that little-used alley that runs along the creek and leave the taxable properties intact? I'm certainly no engineer, but I'm not fond of our solution to nearly every problem being a wrecking ball. Besides, we can't afford to repave that alley anyway. We'd simply be removing another pot hole (whole) alley. I don't know. I've never had my name painted on a rotting fire safety trailer, or a sign announcing a super-duper fire station that was never built. I don't understand how government works.

Saturday, we were treated to that madcap Leader piece about Leighton inheriting McG's convoy of rusting hulks and yesterday, during the height of the snowfall, another city vehicle went berzerk. I'm fairly certain it was one of our plow trucks and it was funny as sh*t to listen to on the scanner. I heard this frantic cry, "431 to base!" It sounded as if the dude was standing directly in front of a 747 engine that was running wide open and about to explode. I was waiting to hear an explosion and then a tone for Medic-5. "Medic-5: Respond to the intersection of Butler and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard for a report of a man down with a crank shaft protruding from his torso. Time out 11:32."

227 city vehicles and one mechanic. Yeah! That program is working!?! Then the dude calls out again, "This thing just shut down, but it's having a major problem. I still need Kevin over here." I have no idea what magic Kevin may have been able to work, but if he did work some magic, I'm sure it included some duct tape or crazy glue. When you're at the curb, make sure that no city vehicles are rolling toward you when you attempt to cross the street. Only a fool would assume that the brake pads on any such vehicle would be thicker than Twiggy's waistline. I mean it, be careful out there.

Good luck. The best time that I could manage was 12 seconds.

Hey golf fans! This one is way cool. Verti Golf

Check some of these pics. What the hell were the goofs at Abercrombie & Fitch thinking? Ijiots all!

You got me, man. Is this one for real?

Did the Jints and the Bengals trade their entire rosters this past summer without my noticing it? Yesterday's "game" brings back some rather painful memories from the seventies. That is no exageration. The Jints have not looked this completely awful since Phil Simms was a rookie in '79. If ever there was an NFL player that deserved a career ending cheap shot from the blind side, it was the Saints' Joe Horn yesterday with that ill-advised and ridiculous cell phone stunt. I was disturbed that not one Giants player took it upon themselves to crush his eye sockets, but it was equally disturbing to see the refs have to huddle and figure out if the phone stunt was taunting and deserving of a penalty. Grow a pair.!!! Make a freaking decision there fellas!!! Jesus...H...Christ!!!

It appears we'll be getting a high draft pick and a new coach after this season. So be it.