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5-31-2004 Click those pens


A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?--George Washington

Yeehaw! I had me two whole days off in a row and I made the most of them. Heck, I didn't even bother with the sometimes tawdry chore of further polluting the internet with any of my meandering bunkum.

We had a kickass cookout/party on Saturday and I wandered aimlessly on the Stomper yesterday. I spent two hours at Kirby Park. I had already seen the flags, the food vendors and the rides. Oddly, what I found so interesting yesterday was the sea of humanity filing through the park. It was nuts. It was nonstop. And it was awe-inspiring. In my opinion, this was patriotism on parade. People of every possible shape, color and size were drawn to, were compelled to visit Kirby Park, wander amongst the field of flags and remember.

And I can't remember ever seeing so many bicycles in the same place at one time before yesterday afternoon. I tend to notice weird stuff.

So today is Memorial Day and I'm sure ya'll know what we're supposed to be doing other than flipping pieces of dead animals over a charcoal grill and drinking copious amounts of some of the most heavily advertised beverages in the world.

Today is Memorial Day, we are at war, we as a nation are at risk, and the country is polarized. We seem to be evenly divided over how we should address the risks we face. I chalk that up to the return to complacency now that 9/11 seems as if it happened a long, long time ago. If '9/11: The Sequel' were to come down anytime soon, the need to adopt a proactive defensive stature for the foreseeable future would gain more support from the mostly ill-informed citizenry. You know, the folks that mistakenly believe that watching Dan Rather or Peter Jennings every night and then reading Mike McGlynn's never ending stream of anti-Bush screeds passes as being informed. We need to stop teaching our kids how to slip condons over fruits and vegetables and return to the days when civics class was not an elective. And we need teachers that are consumed more with a passion for teaching than they are inflicting their political agenda on my kids. The "war for oil" was not drawn up in Crawford, Texas. It was drawn up in the now less than hallowed halls of academia.

Please don't send me any e-mail dribble defending teachers and the federally manipulated curriculum. I have spent many an evening in the recent past deprogramming the bunk that was plugged into my kid's heads. "What did you learn in school today Ebon?" "I learned that the reason we nuked Japan was because we (you white folks) are racists."

American history since 1865? We fuggin' suck.


The healing field...

...really, really, really was an amazing event when you consider that it was flawlessly staged by a city that just a few short months ago could not even manage to find the keys to the street sweepers. Think about it. Last year at this time we would have had great difficulty trying to stage a freakin' softball game and we wouldn't have been able to come up with the funding for a box of new softballs. And our mayor at that time would have had the cops swarming on any softball player stupid enough to introduce alcohol to the softball curcuit.

Yeah, I know. Every event ever undertaken should be alcohol-free, but genocide, famine, and terrorism goes mostly unnoticed while the hollow do-gooders are transfixed on the latest stock quotes. Sorry. It'a been a couple of days. And my brain cells took a serious beating during the past 48 hours. I am currently suffering with Cerebral Alcohol Syndrome. Victim status, baby! Yeah! Send along my check.

Anwho, from the e-mail inbox:

*******Mark,

The Wilkes Barre Crime Watch and the Black Diamond ATV Club (The folks who do search and rescue missions), have been volunteering their time 24/7 providing security at the Healing Field. It was very eerie to be there at about 4 a.m. and watch all those flags blowing in the wind. It is hard to imagine that every flag represented a person who died.

CXXX*******

First off, you are correct. I was over there twice after dark and it had a whole other feel for me to wander through the thousands of flags in the darkness. By daylight, the field is an upliftling place when I forget why it's even there. By moonlight, it was somewhat surreal. Almost as if I was walking through a temporary cemetary. I don't know. I can't explain it.

The other point is that many folks, in this case, The Wilkes Barre Crime Watch and the Black Diamond ATV Club donated their time and efforts in a big way to a great event and also to seeing to it that Wilkes-Barre finally prospers. We are slowly working to change our tattered image. Instead of our neighbors reading the papers and being dismayed by what they read, now they read the papers and ask their neighbors, "Hey, did you see what's going on in Wilkes-Barre?" Why? Because we have the adults firmly in charge and scores of volunteers that are energized by our suddenly brighter prospects. Another group that deserves tons of praise are the corporate sponsors that offered up some serious dollars for this event. Without them, without their dollars, the field of flags might not have been possible.

Early next summer, when the nervous optimism many of us have is being steadily evaporated by concrete signs of progress, the city should stage the 'Mother of all Cookouts' for the common folk that had nothing more to offer to the mix than some blood, sweat and blisters. The hoi polloi deserve a bit of recognition too, even though some of them are out there at night smashing the windows of passing cars.


I was doing a job...

...in Ashley this past Friday and I ran into one of WILK's mainstays, otherwise known here as "The Franchise." In my mind, this was a truly weird happenstance. Weirder yet was the fact that we gabbed away as if we knew each other from the old neighborhood. Until Friday, I had spent all of two friggin' minutes talking face-to-face with this chickie way back on May 20, 2003, when we dispatched Darth McVader to the political graveyard. This is a phenomenon that only talk radio can produce. To know someone without ever having meeting them. Day after day, I listen to her espouse her views on her radio show, I know what she's all about and I have come to like her in absentia. And for whatever reason, she has taken a peek or two at my useless internet ramblings. And yet, here we were carrying on as if we were once the co-captains of the St. Boniface cheerleaders.

I've stated it here before and I'll do it again. The greastest gift this ill-advised foray into internet publishing has given me was the chance to meet so many great people that I would have otherwise never met. And that's probably the sole reason why I haven't pulled the plug on this hi-tech gibberish after we managed to defeat the forces of darkness right here in Wilkes-Barre.

And if we're real, real lucky, we are going to have co-DJs at this year's 15th annual Thompson Street block party.

Oh, yeah. It is now official. Saturday, August 21st---The 15th installment of the Thompson Street block party. And remember, the giant circus tent will be deployed, so there is no rain date to be considered. As our Thompson Street T-shirts so boldly proclaim: Party On!

I'm down on my knees, An' I ain't got a dime.


This is interesting...

...albeit, completely short-sighted. Another post from the forum page where our suddenly divided fire department members are currently slugging it out:

There is one Fact that stands perfectly clear, All of this that is going on is the fault of the Past and PRESENT Administration that is running this city. Shall we get giddy with glee because we are going to have a movie theater to sit in in a year and a half while our lives and homes are being put in grave danger? This adminstration needs a good dose of reality already and from what I hear it's coming rather soon, not one single resident I have talked to is happy about the changes that were made regarding their safety. From this present standpoint, good ol" Walt is about to become the Man of the Hour, if I were the mayor and council I'd make some changes for the better rather soon, I already hear the pens clicking.

This is scary. One more time:

From this present standpoint, good ol" Walt is about to become the Man of the Hour, if I were the mayor and council I'd make some changes for the better rather soon, I already hear the pens clicking.

Click those pens in anger if you must, but be warned, what Walter is proposing is not even remotely forward-thinking, or even worthy of a fleeting second thought for that matter. What Walter is proposing is a healthy dose of class-envy driven payback. What Walter wants, we can't afford. Walter wants to see to it that our elected officials recieve only the most bare bones compensation for becoming a walking, talking target for abuse and scrutiny. With that said, forget about the elected officials currently making the decisions. If you have a bone to pick with the sitting leaders of the city, consider what Walt's ridiculous vision of our future might entail.

Let me prefice this by stating that no part-time employee of this city should receive health-care benefits. That's the kind of La-la-land nonsense that resulted in this city being completely broke in the first place. The writing has been on the wall for quite a while now. What our council should do is revoke those benefits and de-fang the clueless wolf before he manages to sidetrack the populace from the important issues currently at hand. Will they? I doubt it.

Here's where we're at, kiddies. If we offer nothing more than the paltry proceeds that could be acquired by tossing a few newspapers before the sun rises, how in the hell are we going to attract the folks with some business acumen and professionalism to City Hall? Is $75,000 too high of a salary to pay any future mayor? You tell me? Do you want a competent individual that has duly proven themself in the private sector pulling the purse strings, or do you wish to elect another forklift salesman?

What should the mayor's salary be? $75,000? $50,000? How about lowering it to $35,000? It depends on who we're trying to attract. At $75,000, we might be lucky enough to attract some candidates who understand the importance of the bottom line to any operation. At $35,000, we might attract ourselves someone much less qualified. And don't mistake my arguement as some sort of shameless endorsement of Tom Leighton. We're forward-thinking here. Something Walter has not considered.

If low budget leadership is what you want in the future, don't be surprised when our situation becomes financially untenable and Act 47 becomes our next mayor. Proven, successful folks will not take a huge financial hit to become our future leaders. But there are plenty of forklift salesmen that will gravitate towards that $50,000, or $35,000 salary in an attempt to increase their financial standing.

Click your pens if you must. Being small-minded and short-sighted is certainly not a crime. But when our collective situation worsens in a measureable way, will you have the cojones necessary to loudly and publicly state that your ultra-vindictive agenda driven by a bitter nincompoop finally pushed our city over the edge? DUH! How silly of me. The anonymous experts have spoken once again. And once again, they have proven that their anonymity is necessary when one considers how completely inept their stated position is. Let's try this another way, so even the dolts among us can understand it.

Walter wants to dictate the salary caps. Okay, let's set them. Now all that we have to do is decide whether we want to attract the next Joe Montana, or the next Ryan McLeaf.

Click those f**king pens all you want, but don't come bitching to me when Councilman Griffith proposes that we switch to a volunteer fire department and Councilman Clueless seconds that destructive motion.

Logic needs to rule the day while emotions are running so high.

Beam me up, Captain.

Live long and prosper.

Here's one for ya'll. If Walt was running this city into the ground, would the Healing Field be happening right now? Nope. Under his mob rule, "expensive" junkets would no longer be enjoyed by our council folks.

Be real careful when you click your pens.