4-4-2003 Stay safe out there

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.--Anais Nin

It seems that those of you who wondered where our police chief was yesterday during the SWAT event got your answer. Check this e-mail:

******Hello. I was one of the police officers at the S. Main & Ross Sts. incident on Wednesday and I would like to clear up a gross innaccuracy in an e-mail you published on your 4/3 post.

The author of that e-mail wrote that Chief George was not at that incident. Please allow me to set the record straight.

Chief George was on scene from the beginning of the incident and stayed until the operation was completed. He was with his officers on the floor where the suspects were believed to be. Believe me, if there was gunfire he would have been in the thick of it with his officers.

After the proper number of officers were in place the Chief then took up his rightful place at the command post where he is most needed.

There wasn't an officer present who did not appreciate the fact that Chief George stood side-by-side with his officers in a potentially life threatening situation.

Thank you for your time.******

And there it is! The dude was right in the middle of the possible “trigger time” event. While it certainly proves that he’s no coward as some others were speculating about, it actually surprises me to a degree that the chief would be so close to the action when everybody has their guns drawn. I guess I pictured a SWAT style hostage situation as a military operation where the general tells the colonel the plan, the colonel radios the captain and the captain...you get the idea. I pictured the chief being hunkered down with a radio, maybe a coffee and a floor plan of what’s left of the building under siege, while the young bucks waited nervously for the order to charge. Anyway, the record has been set straight. Chief George was not only there, he was “in the thick of it with his officers.”

I tell him the same thing I tell his officers when I run across them in town, “Stay safe out there.” It takes a special breed to face gunfire for $40,000 or so a year. On that note, consider the bravery of our volunteers in Iraq that face fierce combat for much less pay.

Here’s another e-mail on the same subject:

******Hey Mark,

great photos of the N Main st Fire. The posting about Tony George was a bit off. I was at fire headquarters during "The Standoff" and chief George was right in the middle of things. He was inside FHQ with the state copper dudes and some of the detectives be they from the county or the city and were doing alot of planning. He may be a XXXXXX but give the credit where it is due.

Thank for listening******

What’s up? Are we buying the Planters Peanuts building or not? When it was first announced that we could acquire the property for $100, we were told this was the best deal since Zeb Wilkes and Huck Barre traded the Indians a few thousand bullets for the land rights to the entire city. The Voice reports that the closing date was March 27th, but the mayor says he’ll finalize the sale by April 15th. This sure sounds familiar. No city business ever seems to be dealt with in a timely matter, except paving during an election year. Who’s to say that some real estate dude didn’t read the Voice today and get right on the phone with the owner of the property and say “Muck Wilkes-Barre, I’m prepared to offer you $1,000,000 for that property.” Even the good news turns into more confusion and more negative press for city residents to awaken to. We should buy that peanut building and utilize it as our new city hall. What better place to house the nuts?

Here’s a snippet from today’s Voice:

City sources claimed on Thursday the charter allows council members to serve on boards and authorities as long as they are not financially compensated.

Does anyone out there in what’s left of Wilkes-Barre actually care if Jim McCarthy is a member of the Parking Authority board? Do you? I don’t! The mayor keeps bringing this up, but if he was honestly concerned about a possible violation of the law by council members, then why didn’t he take the steps necessary to force them to comply to the letter of the law? Because he doesn’t really care, he’s just trying to cement his Mayor Good/Council Bad message with as many voters as is humanly possible. Our Council Chairman had some comments for the mayor that were published in the Voice today and were 100% correct. The mayor’s response to those comments?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Does it bother him that Wilkes-Barre is being called a few less than flattering names across the state these days?

I gotta cut this short. Wifey still has the adobe turned upside down. Private Sector Dude weighed-in today:

****** Mark,

Man, oh man! I've been so busy lately with work and with trying to get my own business off the ground that I haven't been able to get my thoughts down on paper-not that that matters or anything. But I have to say that you have been right on top of things the past week. So much has been going on around here and in the world, then top it all off with a new arrival, yet you managed to get out some great posts and some really funny stuff.

You really couldn't have a better comic actor than what we have in hizonner and his supporters. Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, and Steve Martin could not do the job.

First of all, God Bless Peace, Scott, Gage, Taylor and your whole family. I couldn't help but smile while reading your post on the birth of the awesome granddaughter-Taylor. It is so nice of you to allow us to share in your joy. Those of us with children understand. Those without children, I hope some day you will understand the joy and the miracle of having a child. Grandpa Dude-has a nice ring.

It seems the Tom-Tom boys are at it again. Talk about a CYA. Not that it's surprising in this county. We have grown accustomed to the back room dealings, closed door politics, obfuscation, and then the lies to CYA. This from the Times Leader, "The audit is expected to be critical of Makowski and Pizano's past handling of the fund, partly because they moved pension fund money and hired managers - many of them political donors - without public retirement board votes." I guess the Tommy twins have also stated that they were going to sue Merrill Lynch as well, for what I don't know. The city hires the financial consultant to manage their money, and if we are talking investments here, then there is an assumed risk. If there has been a gross mismanagement of funds, it will come out in the wash, especially if funds were liquidated, turned into cash and used elsewhere. It seems to me at this point the terminology is vague-"to determine if the fund lost money when part of its assets were liquidated." I guess we will have to wait and find out what is meant by assets." Were the Tom-Tom boys part of moving or using this money? Time will tell, but if the financial management company was responsible, why stop the report? Hmmm.

According to the Leader, "Controller Steve Flood, a member of the retirement board and a candidate for commissioner in the May primary, says outright that commissioners Tom Makowski and Tom Pizano got the injunction to prevent Schnader's report from being completed and publicly released." I heard Flood on WILK this morning saying that nothing would prevent him from doing his job. He really is the only watchdog we have in the courthouse that cares about how money is being managed. It seems that he has finally taken the open cookie jar from the children and slapped their hands. He might be a Democrat, but he is fiscally conservative-and that's what this city needs. Stay with it Steve, and thank-you for DOING you job and taking ACTION.

We got pyramids on the horizon, except ours will undoubtedly be built upside down and will never be finished, but they will definitely contain many secret passages and booby-traps. Can someone out there tell me how the city can get away with ignoring the same policy they demand the rest of us to adhere to-call before you dig? Remember the "CARES" program? I mean this is really a "no-brainer"...oops, never mind, I answered my own question.

We got "smooth street paving" going on-sounds like a Billy Joel song. Hell, Mark, you got your whole (hole?) street paved because of your website, do you think West Side Dude, Hose Chick, Wilkes Dude, Kings Employee Dude and myself could at least get our driveways done for being regular contributors?

As for emergency preparedness, hizonner's knowledge extends to about the snow shovel level-by the way, you hold the smaller end. Sheesh! Your little spoof on Command 100 and chiefie was funny (jocular and farcical to you more "enlightened" readers). Sadly, it was just about right on.

We got more "recycle for votes" PR going on. How does hizonner get to use a grant funded (ultimately, city funded) program to distribute his campaign fliers? A seven page letter? Who paid for the paper? We saved 3 million dollars? Perhaps we saved 3 million dollars we might have had to spend, but bet your bottom dollar it wasn't money that was already budgeted, otherwise it would be a hard savings and we could produce the cash and use it somewhere else.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed the great, dry humor of Bud Brown on WILK. He has some of the best one-liners for a news guy that I have ever heard. Today he reported that Playboy was going to once again send out Playmate letters to our troops. Bud's comment was along the lines of "this gives new meaning to the term pitching a tent." I nearly drove off the road.

We got Rendell saying what a great idea reducing property taxes and increasing the state income tax will be. Folks, wake up out there. Listen to what he is saying, not the gesture. We do have some control over our property taxes. We have a choice of what house to buy and what town to live in-we can choose how much taxes we would like to pay in this regard. We have no choice when it comes to the income tax. Not only that, property taxes are collected at the local level. The income tax all goes to Harrisburg. How much of a chunk will they be taking? Then it will be proportioned out to the local governments who will take their chunk. Then the schools will get their turn. How much more money will we be getting locally? Not much. How much more control will we have locally? None. When has moving tax dollars around ever accomplished anything? Not to mention the fact that every year we pour more and more into our schools and every year we get less and less for our funds, and we have been saddled with the same complaints for years-more money, smaller classes, higher salaries, more benefits. Remember, 1980: Avg. US teacher salary $16,715, avg. cost per student $2491, avg. class size 18.7:: 1999: Avg. teacher salary $42,488, avg. cost per student $8118, avg. class size 16.1. SAT scores-flat 994-1016. What has the money done? How about allowing our teachers to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic? How about taking the handcuffs off of them and allowing them to discipline the bad eggs? How about allowing our teachers to set high standards, reward the achievers and mentor those that are behind? How about allowing them to fail those students that just didn't get it? It doesn't mean they are bad kids or even stupid or less talented. It means they just need more help. How about teachers, school boards and parents working together?

Keep the faith.

Time for some Tool-Schism.

Private Sector Dude.******


Dude, I want to commend you on your flawless puncituatation.

Gracie doesn‘t shoot pool