2-4-2004 McRent-a-Cop?

Janet Jackson has been nominated for three Mammo-Grammys.--Jimmy Kimmel

I'm really starting to like this guy.

I snagged this snippet from the forum. Apparently, I didn't make myself very clear yesterday. My intention was not to tell the employees of this city to "Hit it and git it if ya' don't like it" whereas the proposed austerity moves are concerned.

Telling workers that have served this city many, many years and put their lives on the line most of their career to weigh their employment options is shameful, especially when nothing is currently being done to investigate why this city went so wrong. Coming from the private sector previously, you would almost never, ever hear of such a ludicrious sitiuation.

Shameful? My entire point was that living and working through any drastic austerity program sucks. As I stated, I've done it twice and I can't say after the fact that I made the right decision by staying put. I probably should have changed employers at the time, but I'm a loyal sumbitch when treated well. I'm just saying that those of you that have other options should consider them. At the moment, paying 30% of your health-care benefits is being bandied about as well as wage freezes. Been there. Done that. And it sucked. Having been there twice, I doubt that I'd be willing to go there again. If my current employer went rogue on me, I'd be updating my resume lickety split and I've got tons of options. Not everyone does.

When you mention private sector companies being investigated after going near belly-up, you're referring to large corporations where wrong doing was involved. Global Crossings comes to mind, as well as Enron, Worldcom, etc., etc., etc. Plenty of much smaller companies find themselves fighting for their financial lives only because a series of errors were made and nothing criminal was involved. Committing a financial blunder or two is not proof of criminality. The folks who make those errors usually find themselves invited to an exit interview right quick as our former mayor was. We fired him.

Another thing. To question why he or anyone else that presided over this city's financial demise is not being investigated you are making the assumption that they are not. That remains to be seen, but the state and especially the feds usually do not look too kindly on local governments playing fast and loose with grant monies. We shall see.

Anyway, when you've got years invested in any company, I realize it's a big decision to up and leave, especially if you never thought you ever would. But as we all know, spit happens, and depending on your own situation, sometimes it's better to consider other options while staring down that loaded austerity gun barrel. Like I said, if I had it to do again I'd reach for the eject handle. No disrespect on my part was intended.

I humped it down to City Hall yesterday during the little storm that couldn't only to learn that the budget meeting which would have invited public comment was cancelled due to the non-inclement conditions. Dammit! I was really looking forward to hearing our self-annoited taxpayer watchdogs letting loose. I was gonna pull an Animal House on 'em by mixing a loud fake cough with the word "bullsh*t" mixed in just for fun. You know, if they're gonna allow jerks such as myself to access City Hall maybe we should have a copper dude at these meetings. Anyway, the budget meeting was rescheduled for Friday.

The 'Ayes' have it

There was a bit of crucially important city business conducted before everyone ran for their umbrellas. The Redevelopment Authority has been reconstituted with five new members. Now we can finally set about trying to unload our lengthy list of expensive and embarrassing white elephants.

The most important business conducted at this brief meeting was the unanimous vote to enter into an agreement with AMBAC. Here's the details as provided by the Voice:

Wilkes-Barre City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday entering into an agreement with AMBAC.

The New York firm will issue the city a $4,615,000 bond allowing it to pay off a $4.2 million in old debts. Otherwise, the city would have likely defaulted on a March pension fund payment.

Repayment on the principal will be deferred until 2015, allowing the city more time to get back on its feet. The payment schedule will also change from March and September to May and November. That will allow the city to collect more tax revenue, which will aid in expenses.

However, the city will be responsible for interest beginning in May, on a semiannual payment schedule in $5,000 installments. The bond issue will cost the taxpayers $207,000 in interest payments.


This is a good thing. Rather than continuing the painful cycle of robbing everyone related to Peter to pay Paul, our mayor has smartly persued and landed a debt consolidation loan. He not only convinced AMBAC that Wilkes-Barre is now a good bet, he convinced AMBAC that we're a good bet despite the glaring fact that this city had already defaulted on a previous loan to the very same company. While it's good news that we're going to be able to clean up some of our old debts, it's even better news that AMBAC believes the current management of this city is not only responsible but trustworthy as well. And it should be further noted that Tom Leighton just delivered on his campaign promise to restructure our massive and overdue debts.

Can anyone provide me with a downside? Is this not great news for those of us that haven't joined the exodus out of Wilkes-Barre? Did you catch that one sentence from James Conmy's story?

Otherwise, the city would have likely defaulted on a March pension fund payment.

That would have been a default that would have completely killed this city's ability to borrow anything in the future, and unless there's something this goof on the outside looking in has overlooked-Act 47 couldn't have been very far behind that probable default. You know the deal. Stick a fork in it. It's done.

I think it should be known to all involved that one person thought this AMBAC deal was a bad idea. Yup. There is one among us who sought to convince the good folks at AMBAC that our elected folks were not deserving of this loan. Yepper. There was one person who took the time to repeatedly e-mail the folks at AMBAC and he pleaded with them to deny the City of Wilkes-Barre this much needed loan. 10-4, Rampart. There was one person who thought that continuing to rob Peter to pay Paul less than he was owed was a sound financial plan. That one person was none other than one of our highly visible and overly vocal self-appointed defenders of the taxpayers. Yet another failed candidate for elected office that just can't turn off his self-aggrandizement apparatus. Another person who believes that by adopting an automatic contrary position and getting their name published in the newspapers as a result will one day lead to their being elected to a position of power.

Say what you want about our current council types. I've heard it all and then some. Some of it's probably accurate. The only reason I encouraged y'all to re-elect these people last year was because I firmly believed that what we needed as the city faced insolvency was experience and not a bunch of overzealous trainees. After learning of the ill-advised e-mails sent to the folks at AMBAC, I feel completely justified having suggested that 2004 was not the correct time for a voter tantrum in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. At the very least, our current council has enough experience to know that desperate times require a well thought-out and responsible response. And that's exactly what they and Mayor Leighton provided us with last night.

And to the pretender that claimed to know how to govern a successful Third-Class City, and attempted to demonize those who he sought to replace, I would have to suggest that he stick to harmonizing in the future and allow the experienced folks armed with the facts to do their jobs.

Face it Walter. McG may have led us to the cemetary, but you were the one that tried and failed to hammer in the final nail needed to bury Wilkes-Barre. May your mostly dubious, albeit extremely short political career rest in peace.

Candidate Griffith
Rest In Peace

I watched a report on the video advertising box about a week ago about how the folks in Bloomsburg that refuse to clear the snow and such from their sidewalks were being fined by the city. Man, did that get my mind spinning. I don't know what the official policy is regarding death-trap sidewalks in Wilkes-Barre, but I'd like to know what the heck the deal is and I'd also like to see the issue addressed already. I have the correct and expensive outdoor biking gear that would allow me to pedal my way through the city no matter what the temperaure is. The one thing that always puts a serious crimp in my biking adventures is the fact that every sixth property or so has sidewalks that are never shoveled after it snows, and eventually, with a bit of melting, those sidewalks end up covered with unsalted ice.

Maybe I'm asking for too much while wanting to bikeabout the city during January. Okay. Fine. But should I have to risk serious injury while trying to walk a few blocks to City Hall? I really don't care whether the sidewalks are being neglected by renters or homeowners for that matter. If any property becomes completely overgrown with grass during the warmer months, Sally Healey may come a callin'. That's a good thing, but the last time I checked, tall grass does not usually lead to increased ambulance calls or curtailed outdoor activities. Gage and I went for a walkabout on Sunday morning and the little guy would be hospitalized right now if I hadn't latched onto his hand during the entire slip and slide foray.

If this city has enforceable ordinances concerning passable sidewalks on the books, I'm saying let's enforce them already. And if not, I'm asking that the council folks consider passing one or two. Somebody owns these properties and somebody is not even worried about taking care of even the most minute details of their business. I shouldn't have to risk a fractured skull just to head out for a copy of the Voice.

And then there's another angle. If we fine these negligent property owners, that would amount to increased revenues for the city. BANG!

131 Wyoming Street

From the e-mail inbox:

I just finished reading the e-mail from Tom Burke and I agree with everything he said...My sincere thanks for not only Mayor Tom Leighton appointing a well liked chief but one who knows exactly what to do and how to deal with fires,but more so to let our men do their job..........I know Chief Lisman and he is one of the best. He has all my respect.

I am not a firemen but I am a hosechick and very proud to be one. In our house we have a scanner that goes 24 hrs. a day, being home all day I get to hear what goes on. I have to admit when Jay was chief I wanted to jump in the scanner after him for the way he took control when there was a fire so instead I turned the scanner off. well now it's nice to have the scanner on and listen to how our men can now do their job without interruption ,at least that's my opinion.

So I just want to say CHIEF LISMAN you are doing one heck of a job!!!! And to our firemen now you can breathe and do your job the way you were trained.

My hat off to all you firemen !!!!!! You finally have someone that will work with you and not against you but most of all he gives respect!!!!!!!!!


It's funny. I was told recently that I suck-up to our firemen. Even if that was true, other than a couple of free T-shirts and mugs; what has that gotten me? Friendship comes to mind, and maybe even a bit of mutual respect. I caught on a long time ago that the fire department had become someone's favorite whipping boys in the press, and for the life of me, I'm still clueless as to how to explain why. After what came to pass on 9/11, all across this entire country, firefighters were being praised as long neglected and unsung heroes. But in Wilkes-Barre, suspiciously, they were being treated to a long, slow torture at the hands of an ex-forklift salesman purported to be the second coming of Christ. In my deluded mind, that was a red flag of enormous proportions. And then one night, long ago, an e-mail appeared in my inbox from one Larry Schultz. And then the confusing blanks started to be filled in.

While we're being bombarded with news of needed employee give-backs, and other possible austerity moves, it's great news to hear that at the very least, the firefighters in this city are no longer the whipping boys and happy to finally follow a proven leader again. They deserve no less. Showing up for work should not be an event that fills one with trepidation.

Chickie, you are right about one thing. I have encouraged everyone to buy a scanner now and again. If you really want to gain some serious insights as to how your municipality is being managed, there is no greater tool available to the average nobody.

Someone in the fire department might prefer that I not bring this up at this time, but I happen to possess a keen memory and I remember a structure fire that erupted over thirty years ago when I resided at 396 N. Washington street. I climbed the wall at the back of our yard and watched the proceedings from across the street. Two of my close relatives fought that fire. Fatalities were involved. I recognized the name of the family who's house had erupted in flames. Some of the younger residents of that home attended Coughlin as did I. I didn't know them, but I knew of them. Eventually, I headed home bummed that someone had lost their lives, but being a kid obsessed with music and football, I never gave that fire another thought.

And then, unbelievably, thirty years later I came to find out that one of the residents of that house barely older than I had decided to become a firefighter and now worked to protect others from what had happened to his family so long ago. I've never expressed how I felt about that to him directly, but I cannot imagine undertaking a more noble and heartfelt pursuit. For one of our firefighters, structure fires aren't just a part of his job. They are a part of his calling.

If our local newspaper reporters want to interview actual hometown heroes, they need look no farther than Tom Burke.

RUTRO! This can't be happening. Buy six dozen eggs and meet me at the Social Security building. We're gonna egg us a Rent-a-Cop.

I haven't written in a while but I just had to tell you this one. Guess who was at Social Security on Monday, looking for a job as a security guard?

I will give you one hint--he totally destroyed the City of Wilkes-Barre.

Fondly, MXXXXXX********

Holy friggin' aspirin swallowing contests, Batman! I have not tossed an egg at any security guard since my Coal St. Park days, but I'm more than ready to revisit those clandestine, after dark raids. A security guard? That's worst than fumbling for the "Super-Size" button at the local drive-thru! McDeputyDog??? Who's with me? Let's assault that complex with dozens of eggs and a few cameras in tow.

Whatever, man. This place is nuts.

I'm about to retreat to the safety of my headphones. Escapism is a necessary evil now and again. "Agents of Fortune" here I come!