12-20-2003 Road trip!!!

Turning to others to help solve problems may be an early sign that incoming Mayor Tom Leighton might do better.--From today's Voice editorial

Road trip!!! I talked to Matt Evans this morning. Matt is the Director of the Operation Give warehouse in Columbia, Maryland. We're on. On Monday morning, my partner in crime, Larry Schultz, and I will travel to the Operation Give facility and deliver the items that were generously donated by city folks for the kiddies in Iraq. From there, FedEx will fly them, free of charge, directly to Baghdad.

When I first encouraged local folks to donate to this worthy cause, I honestly expected a mostly tepid response. Much to my surprise, many of you either sent checks, or raided the local Family Dollar. I know just how much stuff entered this adobe, but now that it's all been packaged and ready to go, it doesn't seem like very much. At this point, I wish that we had more to send, but as the Operation Give site plainly states, we're "Sending Smiles to Iraq one package at a time." One smallish package would be enough to achieve the desired results. So, as we close in on Christmas, let it be known that Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania helped to make a difference in a faraway land where the poorest of the poor children make our poorer kids seem rich in comparison. We done good.

Road trip!!! Once again, thanks to this stupid website, I am soon to be off on another adventure. Will it ever end?

Chief "Wiggles" on MSNBC

I guess this was overdue. From the e-mail inbox: *******Mark,

Before you start painting the city's unionized employees as the bad guys here, let's remember some things. It was NOT the employees who signed the lease for the call center. It was NOT the employees who demolished buildings and poured footers without financing in place. It was NOT the employees who put the city millions in debt in order to gain votes. IT WAS THE MAYOR!

Let's say your boss grossly overspent the company's money on things he had no business purchasing. Then, in order to balance the books, he decides to cut out your raises, and make you pay for your insurance. Would you be so willing to bow down at this guys feet and give it all away? I highly doubt it.

Sure the city is in poor financial shape, but why should it be the employees who have to suffer because of one man's fiscal mismanagement. Sell the call center, sell the hole, sell planters, tax the non-profits, collect parking fines...Do everything else, then look to the employees. They work hard everyday trying to earn a living and support their families. Most of them are taxpaying residents like you are, and want to live in a clean, safe city too.

On another subject, why would Sprawl-Mart need to be sprayed for termites? Isn't it constructed of masonary/steel? Just curious.......*******

Trust me, I had no intentions of painting any employees as bad guys. As a matter of fact, as I'm typing this, I'm wearing an I.A.F.F. Local 60 T-shirt that was mailed to me all the way from Scranton. We have to admit that the responses from the union honchos to even the mere whisper of possible austerity moves will not endear them or their employees to the general public. You folks read SAYSO and some of you listen to WILK. You read it. You hear it. They're lazy. They're greedy. The cops are indifferent. And so it goes. I know that's all bull, but not everyone out here knows the deal. Check this. Way back when, when the police department had dwindled to about 60 officers and 911 was reduced to taking a waiting list of calls generated from within the city, I had a conversation with a guy who resides on Park avenue. His opinion at that time was that it was about time that our mayor finally had those overpaid cops earning their money. Talk about clueless!

So now we're broke and in debt up to our eyebrows. The big question is what are the new commissioners and our new mayor going to do about it and try to improve our quality of life at the same time? So far, we've got one rep saying that the city cannot be cleaned up unless it amounts to overtime for his employees. Another one advised his employees to be far less than cooperative with the new mayor. And a third advises us that we need to dump even more money into Valley Crest. What do you think that guy on Park ave. thinks of the unionized employees right now? The union reps are not exactly dis-spelling some of the incorrect perceptions the public has about all y'all, are they?.

I just feel that they need to choose their words a bit better right now. And I also noticed that when city employees do give back to their community, it usually gets nary a mention from the local press. Why is that? If a girl scout troop collects ring tabs from soda cans for some local charity, the press is all over that feelgood story. But when city firefighters host a Christmas party for disadvantadged kids at The Kirby House, no one knows about it afterwards. Somehow, you're not getting much bang for your buck when you deserve some. Conversely, if the firefighters in Wilkes-Barre were to receive a hefty raise, that news would be splashed across Page 3 of the local papers the very next day. It seems as if not enough attention is being paid to boosting the image of city employees when opportunities present themselves.

I previously worked for two companies that found themselves struggling to stay afloat at some point. Some positions were eliminated. Employees that would have been hired were never hired. We literally did more with less. Long gone were our raises in both cases. At the one job, I was denied a promotion that was promised to me, which was worth a chunk of money to me. At that time, I was earning about $20,000 a year and seemingly spending $18,000 of it on Pampers. I know first hand that austerity sucks and I'm certainly not suggesting that any city employee should be excited about it if it comes to town. As far as paying for my own insurance is concerned, I've been doing that since the days when my hair was longer than Paul Stanley's. I do remember everyone bitching about their lost raises for a week or so and then getting on with things. Some chose to seek other employment opportunities, while most of us stayed put. When it was all said and done, loosing a 3% raise wasn't that big of a deal.

I totally agree with your statement: Do everything else, then look to the employees, but I suspect that whatever may be asked of city employees would quickly be turned into a public relations disaster by your union reps. The only word in their reporatoire lately seems to be "nope." Hopefully, the city will be able to restructure it's debts somehow and ask nothing in the way of give-backs from any city employees. If it ever got to that point though, the new mayor becomes the bad guy, city employees will be percieved as being greedy yet again and all the while; the man responsible for all of that possible rancor would be counting down the days until he could collect his taxpayer funded retirement. The unfairness of it all goes well beyond the threshold of anything that any of us should have to tolerate.

If there really is a God, a certain ex-mayor of ours should never wander outside during any lightning events.

Why should Sprawl-Mart be pretreated for termites? No, they won't eat the masonry or the steel. But, they are very persistent and as soon as a crack appears in any section of that enormous slab, they could find their way in there and mud tube over anything they can't consume until they find something more to their liking. Divider walls would be vulnerable to their stealthy attacks as well as any cardboard boxes within striking distance of their entry point. They're kinda like terrorists. They constantly probe at our defenses and no matter how many you manage to eliminate from the equation, there are always many more waiting in reserve.

Last week, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the Democrats should do away with the donkey image and adopt a termite instead. Why? Because they are eating away at the foundation of this country. Not bad.

Hey, this layoff thing is no big deal. I found 3 e-mails like this one waiting for me this morning:




Thanks and all, but save your prayers for politicians that destroyed their cities. The soil's surface is now frozen driving termites deeper into the soil or, possibly, into your basement. I'll be back drilling the hell out of people's homes in approximately 8-10 weeks. Until then, I'm a free man.

Wow! Only five days late and at overtime rates, but our recyclables were finally picked-up.

So much for what the calendar stated

More profligate spending in a city that holds it's breath whenever a payday approaches.

From where we're sitting right now, we can only go up.

Enjoy the hell out of the rapidly approaching holiday season and then get ready to roll your sleeves up afterwards.

We've got some work to do.