12-19-2003 You can count days or make everyday count

I agree the calendar is very popular with our residents. But I need to see if the grant will be approved before I can make a commitment.--Adult-elect Tom Leighton

I enjoyed Wendell W. Young III's guest piece in the Voice today and I have come to the conclusion that being a public employee union boss in these parts right now is not an enviable position. With the city being millions in the hole (Hole, I love it!) and the county being tens of millions in the hole, making the anemic case that unionized employees should not be made to give back in any way, while the taxpayers are shell-shocked by the massive and piling debts, is an argument that is falling on deaf ears. Actually, it borders on being infuriating.

Wendell's arguments against liquidating Valley Crest in any manner were articulated very well and he comes across as being a very well spoken person. He sites memories, case history, studies and even questions the wisdom of a past governor. He's obviously well-read when it comes to the shameful warehousing of one's parents or grandparents. But...at the very end of his letter, he does the unthinkable. He suggests that the county needs to invest even more money into Valley Crest.

"The best thing that Luzerne County officials can do with Valley Crest is to invest the money into the home to make it a first-rate residence for those who need it. Once that happens, the county can look into expanding the resident base, and turning the home into a profit center for the county again."

Make it a first-rate residence? He just contradicted the prevailing wisdom that Valley Crest already is a first-rate home. So which is it? Is it first-rate? Or is it second-rate? Apparently, Wendell and the majority commissioners are not on the same page here. Wendell's argument has another major problem. Invest money into it? What f**king money? The county is currently facing a $23 million budgetary shortfall, $4 million of which was spent to subsidize Valley Crest last year alone. It has been losing millions for years now, so where is the "profit center" scenario coming from? This is yet another example of another union boss going down in flames, while the city and county go down financially simultaneously. And remember this, this man does not represent the residents of Valley Crest, he represents the employees of Valley Crest. The only reason he felt the need to speak out now is the fact that some of the Valley Crest employees are facing pink slips for the very first time. If it was up to him, Valley Crest would be hiring while we'd all be searching for a second job.

I just love this compassion bit:

I will never forget hearing Hubert Humphrey remind us that, "The moral test of government is how that government treats those in the dawn of life, the children; those in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

Any effort that will negatively affect the high standard of care that Valley Crest residents and their families have come to expect, seriously fails this simple test.

Hubert Humphrey? Who??? Wasn't he a game show host or something? Let's cover "those in the twilight of life." The last thing that "those in the twilight of life" deserve is to be bin-located in some smelly warehouse somehwere out of sight and mind. It would be kinder to clamp a pillow over their faces for a few minutes. For this guy to site some socialist manifesto line in an attempt to make us feel guilty about doing what needs to be done is nothing short of shameful. Remember, I used to deliver for Bevaco and I've visited more nursing homes than I care to recall. If anyone thinks that their grandma or their mom is happy to be in a nursing home, they are deluding themselves to ease their own conscience. When elderly women frequently grab the arm of a passing truck driver and plead for his help, or ask him why her family did this to her, you have to know that they'd rather be somewhere else. Somewhere being their own home, surrounded by family.

Close Valley Crest. Close 'em all.

What happened to "Mayor McGroarty was not available for comment?" What happened to "Mayor McGroarty did not respond to several pages seeking comment?" Tom Leighton dared to suggest that we might not recieve a city calendar next year and mayor McTommyMan donned his tattered cape and flew straight to City Hall. Excepting for this year's scaled-down calendar that excluded all of the undelivered "Progress as Promised," horse hockey, McG's calendars were thinly-disguised re-election pamphlets. I hope we do end up printing a 2004 calendar and I also hope to see more useful information contained within and less "Vote for Me" bullspit.

I never really understood the need for the calendar when the city advertised every single curbside pick-up it ever attempted in the newspapers. If the calendar was such a useful tool, why did the city waste so much money on the newspaper ads? Maybe McG was playing General McG again and building redundant safeguards into his recycling system. It amazes me how much time, energy, resources and manpower this mayor expended on curbside pick-ups, while the really important issues that plagued Wilkes-Barre went seemingly un-noticed until they were well beyond his grasp. And still, he's touting the benefits of his silly little calendar. He remains clueless to the bitter end. Take your left-over calendars, ram 'em up your snout and zip your lip. We do not need to hear the advice of an abject failure.

I copied the following blurb from the Voice story. It's scary. While Tom Leighton struggles to put this city back on sound financial footing, McG continues to babble away about the benefits of recycling in a city that easily qualifies for Act 47 status. If Wilkes-Barre was ever home to a bigger fool, we'd be hard-pressed to identify said fool.

The blurb:

"I've been spending a majority of my time working on the budget, which will have some very significant cuts or concessions," the mayor-elect stressed. "I cannot commit to the time frame of the calendar until I know the financial stability of the city and the status of the grant."

McGroarty said he would like to see the calendar back in 2004, but acknowledged it was not his decision.

"In fairness to the new administration, if they want to change the schedule, they should put out the calendar, not me," he said. "But it's surprising how popular it is, and it does work. Our recycling has drastically increased."

Our recycling our drastically increased...while our city's standing has dramatically decreased.

I seriously doubt that he'll ever be able to fully comprehend what he has done to this city.

I posted that Times Leader report of the Larksville Borough Council meeting because I thought it funny. All of a sudden, we've got Larksville Online on our hands here. From the e-mail inbox:

*******Hey Mark,

I know the reference to Larksville was made in jest but I'll tell ya, that little town on the west side has consistently managed to carry a balance of nearly $200,000.00 into each of the past few years after all the bills have been paid. Maybe we here in the city could learn a little something. Keep the faith, Happy Holidays.*******

A balanced budget? A surplus? What are those folks in Larksville smoking these days? Don't they know anything about operating a government in Luzerne County?

Wait! There's more on Larksville:

*******I have never wrote to you before but I thought I would since I have been reading your website since the first time I showed you XXXXXX's XXXXXXXXX. I was one of those guys giving you the run down of it one night at Nesbitt Park. Anyway, I saw your post about Larksville council approving the TV. Well here is the scoop with Larksville. The television was bought by the cops, the cable wire and everything associated with it was bought by the cops. They just put together a new police station and bought new desks, although no chairs. The cops had to buy their own chairs. Larksville Police is made up of 4 fulltimers and the rest are part time officers. Well Larksville council will not give the part time officers a key to the station. All just to be in control. Just thought I would let you in on some of the bullsh*t that goes on over here. If you have any questions let me know. And when it gets warm I owe ya ride in the XXXXXXXXX.*******

The cops don't have a key to enter their own station? Now, why didn't McG ever think of that? No key? Christ! You can't even send pizza to headquarters and subject the pizza delivery guy to being surrounded and interrogated. That's no fun. What did we start here? Is the Larksville P.D. television story about to splash across the pages of the Voice and the Leader? Larksville has a helipad. Can we expect to see Skycam 16 landing there anytime soon?

It's all relative, I guess. Our cops can't even get keys to a vehicle that is operable.

Can we afford a re-cap?

Dallas met Santa. Dallas, the cutie that she is, is the daughter of one of my co-workers. As long as I continue to post here, I will also continue to post the pics of adorable kids. Gage Andrew has some stiff competition for the title of cutest member of the "Toddlers for Leighton."

Dallas & Santa

Guess who got laid-off today. That would be me. I can foresee a brief beer-soaked respite, a trip to the Operation Give warehouse and then lots of bicycling, weight-lifting and isometrics. I've also been invited to partake of cross-country skiing for the very first time, which I fully intend to follow through with. I've mentioned it before and here it is again. Thanks to this silly internet foray, I've met tons of people I would have never otherwise met. And thanks to many of them, I've learned things I would have never otherwise learned. And thanks to many of them, the adventures continue to present themselves.

During the bleakest of times in this city's storied history, being the internet madman has been a truly enriching experience. Being the internet madman during the city's rebirth is sure to be a glorious experience. I'm poised and ready to dive in head first.

Join me.

P.S.--N.O.T. in Wilkes-Barre