1-22-2004 Feedback

I have still not recovered my voice from my screeching in Iowa. I have my warts and sometimes I say things that get me into trouble.--Howard Dean

So? Should the parking authority be a totally autonomous outfit? Should the authority handle it's own business without any further meddling from any out-of-control politicians? Should it have it's coffers drained by the city while our garages are literally falling apart? I've seen copies of the parking authority's financial records, and the once stable year-ending cash balances had quite interestingly dipped significantly as the city's financial situation grew more unstable. Money that probably should have been going towards routine maintenance of our garages was going directly to that quick sand pit otherwise known as the city's general fund.

Based solely on the actions of our last mayor, I think that at the very least, if not some sort of complete overall, the program needs a few more checks and balances. While that mayor made it a habit to burst into parking authority meetings uninvited while screaming and cursing at authority members; one garage was condemned, another is well on it's way, and he invested $5 million in another even though another party had an option to take ownership of it. With that as a track record, how could the authority do any worse if left to it's own devices?

The way I see it, our new mayor has more than enough to worry about right now, so in one respect, it would make sense if he allowed the authority members to assume more hands-on control over the city's parking facilities. Currently, there are some very capable people sitting on that board. Why not allow them to do what they know how to do? I've talked to two current, and one former member of this group, and running the authority efficiently was never, ever a problem until the Tazmanian Mayor was elected. While we await his induction into The Worst Elected Officials Hall of Shame, why not allow the adults to resume doing what they had done so efficiently and quietly for years upon years?

Just so you're not blindsided by the news when it's finally made public, the South garage is said to have collapsed and leaking sewer lines, water lines that have frozen and burst, and an elevator pit that fills with water when we receive any serious rainfall. Once the problems with the Central garage are finally overcome, another garage awaits overdue and necessary repairs. And since it's attached at the hip to the Call Center we so desperately need to attract a tenant for, those repairs need to be expedited right quick. It just gets better and better around here, heyna?

There are lawyers and cops lurking out there somewhere, so you must not allow those little boys to escape.

Q: How many Michael Jackson's does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: I'm not sure, but it takes three pediatricians to remove it.

Here it is. The Michael Jackson interview completely uncensored. Man, I so completely love the freakin' internet.

Wouldn't you know it. Yesterday I offered my painfully honest thoughts on the question of whether city employees should be paying part of their health-care costs. What did I receive in the mail today? No! Not a letter bomb. Rather, confirmation that the cost of my premiums have gone up again. What are the freakin' odds?

Anyway, I received four e-mails from city employees in response to my thoughts on what they may be facing. One was mostly incoherent. Another was the forty word version of F**k You!!! These two are definately worth sharing and interestingly enough; are from the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. From the e-mail inbox:

******* OK, first things first....if you were never run out of Dodge or for that matter, run over by a Dodge in the last four years, me thinks you have some very good survival skills.

That aside and free from worry you really are right about the health care issue. Yes, undoubtedly. The time has come for the reality of the situation. Avoid the inevitable and bury our heads or realize that all of us need to come together for the betterment of our community. The key there is everybody. Elected included. We always seem to forget the community thing when it comes to opening the wallet. How dare they expect me to help bail the city out. But opening the wallet now, just may save jobs for tomorrow and for the future.

I don't like the thought of having to pay for health care either. I think that my profession in the city puts me at great danger for bodily harm and possibly death. Should I be afforded the best benefits for the services I provide? Yes, but that answer comes with a catch, a hitch. Only if it can be afforded to me. Only if I have a job to come to that can ensure those benefits. The thing that amazes me is that once we have them we come to expect them no matter what. Even when things are in the crapper. We believe that it was our right that these benefits were always provided. I'm entitled. Well guess what? Your not. Go out into the private sector and find out that companies do this to their employees every day. No profit and something has to give. Usually it is jobs. Jobs that at least from what I see in the depleted ranks of the police, fire, and DPW are very needed. I truly believe that every department functions today at the bare bones level for the services they provide. But....and this is a huge but.....it has to start somewhere. If we refuse to help, we are our own worst enemy. Can you say Act 47? Then we will have more than just health care change to worry about. The boat is sinking folks, and the eight ounce cup each of us are bailing with can't keep up.

I've heard it wasn't our fault this happened....that they or more so, HE broke the bank. True. No argument from me on that. But it still doesn't change the fact that it has to be fixed. As a proud city resident and employee, I really believe that the employees are worth every penny. Now they are being asked to do more once again with less to show for it. We are not alone. This same story is unfolding in countless cities across the nation and in Pennsylvania. I don't have the answers, but I know the important thing is to keep our people working. To bring back Wilkes-Barre. Though it will plain suck to lose the benefits that I have come to expect for the type of work I do, and that I feel are reasonable in relation to my current profession of choice, it could be a lot worse. To see people laid off. To see less people doing the work of an already bare bone police, fire, and DPW department tomorrow would be a huge mistake and loss. Chances are that if less are doing the same amount of work in the future the health care benefits are going to see a huge jump in usage. Like I said before something's gotta give. If that happens it will probably be the health and welfare of the few employees the city will have left.*******

E-mail #2:

******* Mark, You won't get run over, backed over or hosed off your bike....You are just stating your opinion. I'll be stating my opinion now.....The reason I fired the last e-mail off to you in reference to the employee co-pays is because I was dissapointed. It doesn't seem fair that the employees should bear the burden for the rest of the city. Sorry but the fact that I get paid health care is the result of YEARS of negotiations in past contracts. If you want the employees to contribute, then everyone should contribute. RAISE TAXES! I didn't make the mess, the past administration did...INCLUDING COUNCIL! The new mayor needs to understand that for the last 8 years we've been hacked on, threatened, lied to, forced to spend thousands on arbitrations, and quite frankly, I'm not interested in talking about co-pays until he straightens out the mess he was left. Sell the damn call center, planters, the hole, shapiros, the buildings on S Main, the hovercraft, the huge water tanker, the soda trailer, the cement mixer...etc. You need to realize that aside from being city employees, we're also taxpayers (most of us) and I pay more taxes than about 90% of all the residents in the city. There is nothing more disheartening than picking up the paper and reading that your going to loose your benefits, and on the next page read that the city is building a theater! Or an Intermodal thingy! Sell all that crap, then we'll talk. The unions weren't the only ones who voted the idiot in the last 8 years. Opinion over....thanks*******

Under the circumstances, it's hard to argue with either one of those positions, but I also feel that my opinion on the matter is equally hard to contest. If we're ever really going to run government like an efficient business, we can't pick and choose only certain parts of the successful model we seek to emulate. That approach would never deliver the desired results.

Trust me on this, sitting here debating whether my friends and acquaintances should have their income reduced is not enjoyable at all. I debated whether I should even go there yesterday. But I fear layoffs more than anything. If the unions wanna play hardball as they so frequently do, we could find ourselves doing well more with well less than we already have and that, to me, is simply unacceptable. We'll never convince anyone that Wilkes-Barre is a great place to open a business, or raise a family with only sixty cops, with only two firehouses and ten fire fighters on any given shift, or two garbage trucks manned by a total of two men. In my mind, we do whatever it takes to avoid layoffs. But, then again, my perspective is that of a resident and not that of a city employee. A chunk of my income isn't at stake here, but the city's future is and I can't see a brighter future anytime soon if we're forced to do more with less city employees.

I'd rather be debating the merits of my Eagles comments right now, but Thomas McGroarty has relegated mindless internet fun to the back burner for the foreseeable future. How does he sleep at night?

Is this really satire? Or it is just a bunch of "I hate Bush" bullspit?

You just have to scroll down a ways and check out some of these menu selections. Yummy!

You have to see this video from the news archives. This is a treat. The 'Internet?' What the hell is that?

Don't give me no guff. It's for a charitable cause. Jeez, they're only boobies for Pete's sake.

Rice burners. You tell me, man. I'll never understand the attraction.

Never underestimate the Russian military when it has a clear objective.

I'm gonna go watch the Dems two hour debate on the Fox News channel. Is tonight the night when Howard Dean goes "zone" on the lot of them? Ya never know.