2-20-2004 I miss Renee

What's good for the goose obviously in her mind is not good for the gander. He can appoint a friend but I can't? It's good for him but not me? I want people to know I believe it was a setup and I was attacked and that the whole thing was orchestrated.--Commissioner Greg

Yo! I thought that the bad ole days were over. Our commissioners are arguing in public about hiring their friends? I also thought that nepotism and cronyism was a thing of the past in this county.

cronyism: partiality to cronies especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications

Should we expect more friends being hired, or girlfriends being appointed whenever a job needs to be filled? If so, what exactly has changed by changing majority commissioners? What happens if Dave Lupas resigns his position for whatever reason? Will cousin Jiggy be called upon to leave Whammy Burger and become the interim district attorney? Or will it be somebody's buddy at the car wash?

Skrep does have a point about being setup to some degree. Our minority commissioner has sat on his thrown for over four years while his trusty sidekick in the gallery has been tearing into the two majority commissioners. And I'm supposed to accept his word that he has no idea what's on her mind when she goes nuclear on the big two at every meeting? Another politico that thinks we're completely brainless.

And we've learned during the past few days that not only does Skrep have a fog horn for vocal chords, he has a bit of a temper too. This could be fun to watch as things progress. Who was it that Tom Makowski sent flying over a chair or something? Wasn't it Bob Reynolds from WNEP? I think so. I'm wondering how close the members of the media should get to Skrep when his nostrils start flaring again. Y'all wanna get hit by that? Try attaching a microphone to one of those telescoping pool poles as a safety precaution. Interview him from across the street when he gets that look in his eyes like he just got chop-blocked by a defensive lineman.

"Mr. Skrep, what's your reaction to Mr. Urban's charges against you? Yo! Yo! Over here! I'm over here!"

We already know that our council babes saw to it that the city charter would be gender neutral from here on out. I think it's silly, but it won't cause a murder or anything. No biggie. Did anyone read the letters to the editors of the Voice today? I was in freakin' stitches this morning. How 'bout a couple of exerpts?

We are in a hole in Wilkes-Barre because he and rest of the council people, except the two women and Tony Thomas, wouldn't let Little Caesar do what he wants.

Tony Thomas and the two women do not take the benefits, but councilman Latinski sells his back to the city. What a joke.

Dude! Get with the program! Holy frig! Ya wanna know why Wilkes-Barre is so screwed-up? The fault lies with the mayor, the council, and those two women. Reminds me of that whacker in the movie Falling Down. The guy in the Army/Navy store. "Why don't they call you people officer-esses?" There we go. The councilmenesses. That'll work.

How about this one from that laugh riot of a letter?

I voted for Leighton, but I, and a lot of others, won't vote for him again.

You know, he's absolutely right. It's been seven weeks since Leighton took his oath. All of our problems should be fixed by now. Dontcha think? How many more weeks does he expect us to wait?

So McG's pothole promise is still biting us on the ass. Another blunder that still has to be dealt with. Gage Andrew and I were out on the bike last Saturday and guess what? After we parked it back here at the adobe the front tire went flat. So now what? Do I wheel it down to City Hall and hand the patch kit to J.J. Murphy? Should I fix it myself and charge the city for an hours worth of my precious time?

I was standing on the side of North Street yesterday and that stretch from Penn ave. to Washington looks like a few roadside bombs went off there. The traffic was heavy as always, but as the cars approached the worst of the potholes, the drivers flowed the cars to a crawl. The result? No damaged rims and no damaged tires. I'm not suggesting that potholes are acceptable, and I'm also not suggesting that we should be forced to drive 15 mph while out and about. What I'm getting at is that we all know the city is in some seriously poor shape right now. And the potholes have recently received a healthy dose of publicity. So if the streets are a wreck and we're all well aware of it, why are cars still going 45 mph down Penn ave. and why are they still flying up Wilkes-Barre boulevard at speeds easily exceeding 50 mph?

It seems to me that if you suffered $954 worth of damage to your vehicle after hitting a pothole, you are most likely guilty of driving too fast for the conditions. The condition of some of our streets are horrible. Will anyone slow down as a result?

Two more hose dudes sent their thoughts along. From the e-mail inbox:


You seem puzzled about the discontent within the fire department. Depending on who you talk to it is very obvious. We are better than a month into the new administration and we have no idea who is being promoted, demoted and the like. The interviews for promotion were a sham. The interviews were conducted in 2 rounds, those interviewed in the second round had already received our thanks but no thanks letters in regards to our resumes. It wasnt until people started expressing outrage that additional interviews were conducted. If this administration wanted to be above board they would promote assistant chiefs by civil service exam (Scranton and most other cities do) rather than politics. Politics has taken all of the motivition for firefighters to increase their knowledge so they can advance. Most people I have talked to feel the new administration thinks we are less important than other city departments. afterall other cities have volunteers do what we do.....at least they think they do*******

It wasn't so much that I was puzzled. It was how completely nasty some of the stuff I was receiving was. Should I have posted that stuff that only would have proven to be further devisive? I chose not to. I completely agree that all promotions should be based on tenure and merit. If there were no gray areas regarding promotions, no one would ever have a legitimate gripe. I know very little about the processes of which you speak. Heck, I'm still trying to understand all of the implications being unionized means to an average bloak such as me. I will say this. If your claim that "Politics has taken all of the motivition for firefighters to increase their knowledge so they can advance." is even remotely true, that's a very scary situation. In your line of work, ongoing training should be encouraged at every turn.


maybe I'm a little behind things. I am on vacation. So fill me in: Are there some of my brother firefighters who are upset by the removal of the "Goon platoon"? Is there someone out there who believes that Jay and the Hitler Youth were doing a smashing job? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Well, anyone with half a brain has to realize that it will take years to get the city back on track and especially the fire department. But we now have a place to start. Step one is apparent. Higher an educated temperate mind. Step one accomplished. Step two: fix the problems with a shrinking budget. God help the new fire chief on that one!

At the risk of possibly misrepresenting my brethren I'm going out on a limb by saying that most of us are behind the new people in charge. Trouble is we're all a little gun shy because we've suffered eight years of neglect and abuse. Morale is improving at a steady pace. But it will take time to quell the voices of the "true believers" that filled the McGroarty ranks. None of us think Tom Leighton is the new messiah. He's just another elected official and will one day be replaced. However he has set a tone for the fire department by undoing some of the most profound damages. So we're off to a new start despite the whining of the old guard. Amen to that.

I read your last two pieces about Davis Place and Wyoming street. Perfect examples of the need to enforce the long lost Rental Inspection Ordinance. How much effort do you think the landlords will put into those properties if left to there own devices? How much more do the neighbors have to endure? Unfortunately, the new administration will turn a blind eye to that particular law. Check the names on campaign expense reports. But that's politics. You can't have good without first having bad. Gotta go, dinner's ready. Talk to you again soon,


This e-mail is tame in comparison to the ones I refused to post. "Goon platoon" and "Jay and the Hitler Youth" are almost complimentary when compared to some of the stuff sent my way. I guess a bit of rancor was inevitable when demotions were thrown into the mix, but I was surprised to see so much venom being spewed. I have been passed over for promotions in the past, and I felt as if I was wronged on a few occasions. But I never bad mouthed any co-worker promoted over me except to my wife. And I would certainly not attack them anonymously on the internet. I just took things in stride and kept toiling away. You know. Whatever, man. To do otherwise would have negatively affected my attitude and that could never help my situation in any way.

I was demoted once, and that move was the biggest bunch of sh*t I was ever forced to eat. Trust me, I got screwed. I should have quit immediately, but I didn't. I'm still not sure why. Anyway, after a very short period of time our company was bought out and I ended up with a much better job than the one I was demoted from. By not reacting badly, somehow, things worked out for the best. I'm not going to tell anyone how they should feel, or how they should react to a demotion. I was simply caught off guard by the furor coming from the fire department. The last I had heard, the hose dudes finally had a leader they respected and it seemed like clear sailing from here on out. I do suspect that the great majority of them are not alarmed by current events.

Good question. What happened to the Rental Inspection Ordinance? That'd be a good one to rehash sometime soon with our councilmen and councilmenesses. Although, the common wisdom among the great unwashed is that Tom Leighton will not put any pressure on his buddies in the real estate field. I don't see how that's entirely possible when we're trying to attract young families back to this city. I can guarantee you this much. Without putting some pressure on these property owners, we're never going to attract any young families to Davis Place.

One of the neighbors claimed that one of the rowhomes on Davis Place had no floor in the property's kitchen. Think someone from the Back Mountain is gonna snatch that up and move in any time soon? Basement apartments with carpets laid directly on the soil? Somebody better put some pressure on somebody if we're ever going to have vibrant neighborhoods again. Time will tell.

I attended my Uncle Bud's viewing last night. I haven't seen him since my mom passed away in 1988 and I'm not sure why. At one time, this was one extremely close-knit family. It seemed that once my grandma passed on and her matriarchal influences were no more, everyone just seemed to drift away. That sad fact has bothered me on occasion, but there came a point where nothing could be done about it. Why? Because there just aren't enough quality jobs in this area to keep our younger folks here.

Four of his five kids, my cousins, fled this state in search of good jobs and never came back. There I stood last night yapping away with my cousin Renee who I have not seen since the early eighties. This, that, and the other thing came up, but it didn't take very long before she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I had a good job and she commented on what a rarity a good job is in this area. I provided her with my e-mail address and asked her to please stay in touch after she heads back to Maryland.

As I was walking home, I got to thinking about how my cousins live far away, and how many of my good friends from high school moved far away, and I felt something akin to having been victimized. I haven't seen Renee in so long that I rarely even think of her, let alone miss her. She got to reminiscing about our summers spent with grandma at the grove across the road from Sandy Beach. She giggled about the lot of us grandkids eating breakfast at a picnic table in our underwear. She reminded us about how many of us managed to stay in a cabin with only one bedroom. After spending an hour with her again, it's apparent to me that I do in fact miss her. I guess it was a matter of not missing what you could barely remember in the first place. What should I do about it? Move to Maryland? Or wait until she one day retires and returns to this area?

For far too long, the road to prosperity for the folks outside the political loop has led directly out of this county. I have a decent job, and I could find another if need be. But seeing Renee again last night reminded me that the seemingly perpetual lack of quality jobs in this area has indeed negatively impacted upon my life. And I have to wonder if the exodus will ever end, even though everyone making the big, big bucks claims to be working so hard to end it.

I miss Renee.

And I shouldn't have to.