Holy Progress Batman!!! From the e-mail inbox:
*******Hey dude, check this out:*******
A street sweeper? In Wilkes-Barre? What a concept? That new mayor of ours is a true visionary. No more stepping off of the curb and then slipping on all of the wet, slimy thus-and-suches? No more broken glass wreaking havoc on the Stomper's tires? No more crushed soda bottles lining our streets that were in such abundance they appeared to be marking a trail through the city? After the drubbing he took in the May primary, the debris and silt was more or less inflicted on us by you know who as some sort of punishment. Stupid, stupid residents. Rather than vouchsafing a glimpse of divinity while in his presence, as we should have, we went and banished him to the political graveyard. How silly of us.
You know we've sunk just about as far as we could as a city when the appearance of a lone street sweeper can be claimed as progress. One street sweeper caused someone to scramble for their camera. Sadly enough, in this city, that street sweeper making it's way through the downtown this morning IS progress. It may not seem like much, but it's actually a great start towards changing our image as a dirty and unsafe place. If the weather is agreeable, they should keep those suckers running 24/7. We've got much to clean.
It's starting already. A caller to The Sue Henry Show today questioned why our new mayor would replace such a qualified and experienced fire chief. She also wondered whether the new chief, Jake Lisman, would be able to collect his retirement pay as well as his salary. I'll take a shot at attempting to answer those. The new chief has vastly more experience than the former chief. He also has something that the former chief never had. Namely, the respect of the men serving under him. If nothing else was achieved with this move, it'll vastly improve the morale of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department. Gone are the days of vindictive management. Gone are the daily hydrant paintings. Gone are the days when the primary responsibility of the fire department was clearing sewer basins that were causing floods every time it rained. Gone are the days when the mayor of the city would lie to the general public in an attempt to paint those who are sworn to serve and protect us as Public Enemy #1.
The members of our fire department do experience periods when they have no one to rescue and no fires to fight. And they do earn a decent wage and enjoy decent benefits. Should they be continually punished because of that? Should they suffer the indignity of having their reputations sullied by a clueless politician who thinks they're overpaid? Should they be intimidated when negotiation is obviously called for? If they're jobs seem so freaking cushy, I encourage anyone who bought into mayor McG's campaign of deception to march down to headquarters and fill out an application. But be warned. You might find yourself climbing into a structure fire with a small child's life hanging in the balance. And you might find yourself doing some soul-searching after a resident trapped by fire wanders away from you and into the blackness hoping, but failing to save his wife, while you're watching helplessly through a tiny window from the top of a ladder. In between selfless acts of heroism, they might not have anything do. So what?
With higher taxes comes a paid fire department that responds to all emergencies within four minutes. Much lower taxes usually provide a volunteer fire department. You get what you pay for and we're getting top-notch emergency services right now. And the people paid to provide us with those services should have never, ever been presented to the residents of this city as lazy, overpaid oafs. If we truly cannot afford to compensate them at their current levels, they need to be brought to the negotiation table and told the facts of the situation, rather than be accused of being paid to lean on a pool table.
A television appeared at fire headquarters this morning. Good! Productivity is wonderful and all, but improved morale in a city that is somewhat demoralized is much more important at this juncture.
Can a firefighter coming out of retirement continue to collect his retirement benefits and his salary? I sort of doubt it, but it's really not that big of a deal. Even if he can, it won't cost us anymore than we're currently paying out. But, it should provide some interesting SAYSO fodder. Cool!
Not only does our new chief command the respect of his own men, his swearing-in ceremony at the Kirby tonight drew some of his brothers from outside of his department as well.
Captain George Langan-Scranton F.D., Cheif Lisman, Paul Lesser-PP&L Fire School, Deputy Chief Jim Wills-Kingston F.D., Assistant Chief Jim Floyshak-Scranton F.D.
The swearing-in ceremony at the Kirby drew a packed house. Someone estimated the crowd to be 700 or so. All I know is the entire lobby was elbow to elbow with folks standing all the way out on the danged sidewalk. Our new mayor was sworn in as were our seven city council members, controller, police, fire and paramedics chiefs. These folks sure have their work cut out for them. Many a hope and prayer goes along with them as they face the daunting challenges that await them.
Before marching to the Ramada (Yes! Again!), council elected Kathy Kane as our new council chairwoman and Shirley Vita-nova-II our new vice-chairwoman. The chickies have assumed control. Mayor Tom Leighton announced to the assembled hordes that his door will always be open to anyone. He's heard many suggestions from every possible source already. Now it's time for him to do what he feels is right and in the best interests of the city and it's residents. There is no way that he can possibly please everyone, but I'm supremely confident his decisions will eventually put us back on the right track.
I behaved myself at the Ramada by nursing three beers. No, that's not a typo. Three beers. Before the ceremonies at the Kirby, I popped into Joe Nardone's and picked-up my 4 CD set, "Sex, America, Cheap Trick," so I was itching to get on home and further damage my ear drums. I done got my last free beer out of Tom Leighton. Bummer. Besides, the battle against the McPrince of Darkness was won long ago. There was no pressing need to party on this particular night.
I wandered out of the Ramada, took one last fleeting glimpse at those searchlights lighting up the clouds above the city and headed home. Mission accomplished. We've got a responsible new mayor, a council ready to work with him and for the first time in a very long time, we have a renewed sense of optimism in this city.
I was on the phone last night with a friend who was telling me how big my role was in all of this. He said that this site got the word out in a big way whether I wanted to admit it or not. That may, or may not be completely accurate, but I will admit to being well past satisfied no matter how much, or how little I contributed. At some point, I became horrified by the direction this city was headed in and I got involved. I was probably crazy to do it the way I did it, but that's old news at this point. What we need to do from this day forward is to make sure that people get involved. Many more people need to be motivated to take an active interest in their city and if that ever came to pass-what happened to this city during the past few years could never happen again.
Our elected leaders need to be closely scruntinized no matter how well things might appear on the surface. Our own apathy helped to create a lot of our current woes and we can never allow that to happen again. If we won't pay close attention and if we don't get involved, a repeat of the past eight disasterous could be a distinct possibility one day. The one thing I've learned thanks to this stupid web site is that we've got too many good people still residing in this city to ever allow that to happen. I think we've learned our lesson. I think.
I wandered home through our streets tonight one thoroughly satisfied camper. No matter what role I played, I can hold my head high knowing that I fought the good fight. In my opinion, Wilkes-Barre was always worth fighting for and beginning tomorrow-that belief will slowly but surely be proven to be correct. To those that laughed at us, laugh no more. Wilkes-Barre is on it's way back.