1-7-2004 Dirty bombs, a Carbon-based City Council, and Tree Bark tea.

The long-awaited Rapture can't be too far off

Just like I said, we are going to go out and surround ourselves with people who are knowledgeable. I'm not going to lie to you, this (city's financial problem) is way above my expertise.--Mayor Tom Leighton in today's Voice

He's not going to lie to us? Yep, I could get used to this.

Can somebody help me out? I stopped at Oh Yes yesterday and grabbed a few groceries for wifey. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the adobe, I discovered that I had somehow lost the whole chicken I purchased. If ya' come across a chicken anywhere in the Nord End, I'd appreciate a ring.

My e-mail was fun this morning. Lighten up Eagles fans. I was just funnin' on y'all. I'm fully aware that the Jints dropped their last eight games and looked pathetic while doing so. The Eagles don't suck. Please don't tell my brother I said that. Please.

See Larry! I told ya. While we were zig-zagging through Baltimore happy as two pigs in slop, the feds were concerned that we might be vaporized. 'Dirty Bomb' Was Major New Year's Worry. Let's make our next road trip a bit closer to home. We can collect and deliver Chia pets to the less fortunate in Noxen, or something. If I have to see a mushroom cloud any time soon, I wanna see it on CNN.

This sucks. Apparently, I'm poor. That is, if I'm reading this report correctly. I only own one air conditioner. I have to suffer with an undersized, 31" screen television. My DVD player was the cheapest one on the shelves. There's no Humvee parked out front. I can't even afford one of those 40,000 watt monster boom boxes at Rent-a-Center that have so many lights and whistles, they could easily pass as the instrument console in a Boeing 747 cockpit. Why should all of the rich people get all of the expensive goodies simply because they're willing to work more hours than I am and they risk their own capital? I want it all and I'm not willing to work more than 36 hours a week.

The results of the council meeting were interesting. It's refreshing to have the mayor in attendance for a change, rather than sending his underlings to face the pointed questions. We're hiring the PFM Group to help us restructure our debts. I was surprised to read that this could cost us anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 per year, but when you stack up $60,000 against $50 million in debts, it amounts to chump change. I was equally surprised to learn that our usual January Tax Anticipation Note was only $4 million. I thought it would end up being much more than that.

Council passed an ordinance authorizing a veritable clutter clean-up program for all city properties. That's actually somewhat amusing. The time has come to dispose of all of the former mayor's acquired junk and equipment that was not properly maintained during his heyday. Our self-proclaimed garbage expert left piles and piles of garbage in his wake. Go figure.

And our city administrative code will now be gender neutral, which proves that we can be just as politically correct as the next goofy town. In the future, please refer to our council members as council persons. Or council folks. Or council carbon-based units. Anything but what they actually are. Council boys and girls.

Here's one that has this lunatic bordering on being flummoxed. Council decided against spending $15,000 to conduct a forensic audit? That one has me scratching at my head lice. I'm assuming that they've got something else up their sleeves, because a forensic audit is clearly called for and soon. I could make a call and find out, but I suspect that the folks wearing ties at city hall are up to their elbows in work right now. I'm not gonna bug anybody.

Walter Griffith wasted no time this morning and got right on the blower to Sue Henry at WILK. I'm as sick as a Democratic Presidential hopeful right now, and I didn't want to call Sue and be the first person to ever puke "live" on WILK. Walter's anti-council tirade included barbs at the length of last night's council meeting. His oft-repeated rants against council enjoying health care benefits and a suggestion that last night's meeting smacks of "Business as usual" for Wilkes-Barre. I fired off an e-mail response to Sue, but after completing it, I realized that she wouldn't read it on the air. So be it. Here's that e-mail:

*******Hi Suzie Q,

I would have called, but I'm so completely ill that you'd probably get sick by talking to me on the tele. I enjoyed Walter's, our council wannabe/champion of the taxpayers latest circumlocution. If the average council meeting lasted all of 5 minutes as he so bogusly claimed, then how would having a cop at the meeting reduce our police presence on the streets?

As our elected leaders are currently considering layoffs, concessions and other assorted austerity moves, the potential for an ugly incident at any one of these meetings increases exponentially as city employees are filled with trepidation as to what they're immediate future might be. And to make the claim that an ex-policemen sitting on council is security in itself is knuckleheaded. Bill Barrett was not elected to a council position to wrestle anyone to the floor in council chambers.

The agenda for last night's meeting was threadbare because as things currently stand, we have more questions than answers right now. Once the game plan becomes more clear after the audits are completed, the meetings will drag on much, much longer as they usually do. We've got some complex problems that will require complex solutions and those solutions will not be decided upon in 5 minute meetings. Even Walter knows that much.

If I remember correctly, 3 of our council members enjoy health benefits provided by the city. Yes, if the unionized employees are forced to pay for a portion of their insurance, so should council. But in the great scheme of things, it would be a mostly symbolic move that wouldn't amount to very much in savings for the taxpayers. Candidate...oops...taxpayer watchdog Walter knows that too.

Basically, Walter is going to loudly bang his "City Council Sucks" drum until his message will revert back to "Vote for me" during the next election cycle. He's just another example of an advocate for good government that simply seeks his own piece of the pie.

Markie in Wasteland-Barre

P.S. I dare ya' to read that on the air. BANG!!!*******

Nice try and all, Walter.

Are you ready for a scoop? If you consider that I do this as a hobby of sorts, the folks at the Leader and the Voice have got nothing on me. BANG! We have a new business coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre and it should be open for business by Spring. It's exactly the type of business we need. A specialty shop that will provide products and services that will never be offered by the Sprawl-Marts of the world. I would love to tell you what it'll be and where it'll be located, but somebody who trusts me asked me to leave it at that. One of those empty buildings in our downtown is going to be filled and soon. The only hint I will provide you with is that it will be a store that tailors to one of my hobbies. I can't wait.

Check this out from Boortz.com


Evidently The Tallahassee Democrat, the only daily newspaper in Florida's capital, has a column not unlike the "Vent" in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Readers phone or send in their pithy one-line comments and some are selected for publication in the "Zing" column. I'm told that on December 24th the following "Zing" appeared:

"Discourage incest: ban country music".

The following "Zing" was, however, rejected and not published:

"Discourage violence: Ban rap".

In politically correct circles it's perfectly OK to slam country music fans ... after all, they're probably (gasp!) Southerners! But leave the music of violence ... rap ... alone.

We've got a new Hispanic grocery store right here in the Nord End. I have often busted on wifey about the foods that her Polish ancestors created. Polish foods are comprised of mostly bland ingredients. I love pierogies, but to be very honest, they are boring as all hell if you think about it. Mashed potatoes wrapped in dough. Wow! Halushki? Chopped cabbage and pasta. Again, Wow! Piggies? Kielbasa? Horseradish? Culinary courses are not required to throw this slop together.

Other than a few remote African tribes who eat burgers made from flies, Mexican foods excite me the least. Sure, they're zesty and they're spicy, but they have to be considering that the ingredients are mostly filler not worthy of a chicken croquette. Refried beans? Are we serious? Cactus leaf? Pinto beans? YUK! Peppers that could melt the paint off of an automobile? Not! Dried tree bark used to make tea? Tree bark? If those suddenly became the only food sources available to me, I'd make those once-starving Ethiopians appear to be grossly overweight in comparison. To each their own. No biggie. Enjoy. But, I'll never pay anyone a plug nickel for tree bark. Keilbasa is starting to sound pretty good right about now.

This is a keeper. From the e-mail inbox:


"A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, but her father was a staunch Republican. One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to high taxes and welfare programs. He stopped her and asked how she was doing in school. She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA, but it was really tough. She had to study all the time and never had time to go out and party. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying. On top of that, the part-time job her father insisted she keep left absolutely no time for anything else. He asked, 'How is your friend Mary?' She replied that Mary was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied, but was very popular on campus, didn't have a job, and went to all the parties. She was always complaining about not having any money, but didn't want to work. Why, she often didn't show up for classes because she was hung over. Dad then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and request that 1.0 be taken off her 4.0 and given it to her friend who only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a respectable 3.0 GPA. Then, she could also give her friend half the money she'd earned from her job so that her friend would no longer be broke. The daughter angrily fired back, 'That wouldn't be fair. I worked really hard for my grades and money, and Mary just loafs. Why should her laziness and irresponsibility be rewarded with half of what I've worked for?' The father slowly smiled and said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party'." --Unattributed


My drug-dealing, Vampire High Priestess of a neighbor, Shaqia, is paid regular visits by a Terminix pest control technician. How utterly perfect is that? We have to tolerate all of the crimes associated with the proliferation of drugs in this city, but Shaqia, alias "Nicky," cannot tolerate a few crawling insects being inside of her stash house. It seems to me that the wrong pests are being targeted at that address. I'm still waiting for a huge mother of a hole to be punched through her front door.

Whatever. I've annoyed enough people for one day.