4-14-2003 36 more days

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.-- Sir Winston Churchill.

I used to get a kick out of the e-mails that suggested that my support for Tom Leighton was some sort of effort to benefit myself or secure a city job. I finally thought of something I could get out of it. I wanna’ be hired as a bike cop. Cool! Me, the aging Huffy, a flashlight and a gun. I could get paid to do what I love most-riding my bike. Can I? Can I? Huh? I promise not to shoot anyone that needs shooting until there are no witnesses around. Can I?

Alright, what gives with this one I clipped from the Times Leader’s SAYSO column today? Does anybody know what this is all about? Ya’ got me.

I received another e-mail from the Nord Ender who disagrees with my thoughts about the college kids.


I got your message to phone. I tried once today, but the line was busy. I had gone to Tom Leighton's meeting tonight.

Sorry man, I don't agree with you on the student thing. Where I live were all family homes, and can be again if this city gets a second chance at life. The kids get too out of hand and there's no excuse for it. They need their own spaces. The Margarita is just a start. What's more, if it wasn't for my bitching that building would be a parking lot instead. This was a decision the school made in order to take the kids out of these family neighborhoods. When a person lives near a bar, it is usually only one bar, not ten. That's what it used to be like before many of us on North XXXX put our collective foot down. What we put up with is simply asshole-ism. If I move, it will be because of McG. And, as far as I'm concerned, the kids will go before I budge an inch. One other thing, it was the student mess that got me into this "rehabing" the city mode I've been in. This is how it started with me. It was also responsible for my first run in with XXXX XXXXX, who was less than nice to me. I guess he thought I represented a threat to his rental empire or some shit like that. But, back to the point, if the kids didn't carry on like that, they'd be welcome to live in the neighborhood. Kings officials, who have been sensitive to our situation, have agreed that the conduct of certain students has been out of bounds. When that happens, they reel them in now. My XXXX and I ought to be able to live in peace too.******

I hear you man, I really do. I completely understand and I was not hinting that anyone should move away from the colleges due to the shenanigans of the partygoers. It’s just that they don’t bother me as much as they bug some others. I can tell you this, when the bar patrons used to attempt to run roughshod over our turf, we dealt with it in our own creative ways. We never once called the police for assistance, or showed up at a city council meeting demanding action. People, even drunk people in most cases know how to take a hint after they sober up. They tend to notice that the sidewalls of their tires were punctured. They don’t seem to appreciate bayonet puncture wounds through the bodies of their cars either. They abhor crayons stuffed into their key slots. They usually back off, way off, when confronted with an axe handle too. Whatever, confrontation and vigilantism isn’t for everyone.

I remember back in the late eighties, I skipped Charlie Weiss across a South Main St. sidewalk and into the street after he flew into a profanity laced tirade when I refused to sell him a half cup of soup at Franklins. The day after I launched him, he began pressing his ugly mug against our front window during the height of the always frenzied lunch hour. Being that the temperature was hovering around zero, I popped the roof hatch of that Humford Equities property, climbed up onto the roof and poured five gallons of cold water on him. A direct hit I might add. An outraged citizen coughed-up enough spare change to get the cops down there. Charlie was screaming at the top of his lungs that he was going to have me arrested for attempted murder being that he was now thoroughly drenched and exposed to near sub-zero temperatures. The cops arrived, listened to his story and told him to hit the road or else and also warned him to stay out of the entrances of Boscovs. He does stink to the high heavens. Another round of free coffees for the cops (copper dudes) as they were once called.

I’m not sure why I shared that with you as it has nothing to do with the college kids and I’m not going to retell the story about how I bombed Charlie with 100 pounds of bakery flour from a second story window at Percy Brown’s back in the seventies. Although, I really want to. I do tend to be laid back most of the time as evidenced by my frequent use of the word ‘whatever.’ But when I do receive bad treatment, asshole-ism as it was just called-I tend to get even and not so much mad. You wanna’ know what? It usually yields pretty good results. I guess the Silly String assault is not for everyone, but it sure is fun.

The other thought that came to mind after reading the e-mail was that if our housing stock was filled with families rather than being converted into apartments by unscrupulous and uncaring robber barons, the college kids would not be mixing it up with the few remaining families in this neighborhood. Therein lies Wilkes-Barre’s biggest challenge. Becoming an attractive bedroom community rather than a slumlord community.

By the way, our corner bar burned down one Sunday afternoon and I’ve always wondered if our fire inspector was correct when he deemed the fire to be electrical in nature. Don’t look at me! I was at work when that thing burned.

Oh yeah. I am envious. I wish that I had written “Our fu*ked up mayor would blame Wilkes-Barre's problems on sun spots if he could,...” Sun spots. You’re cracking me up man. I suppose he could blame the sun spots on city council.

Ask and you shall receive. Where the hell is Gore Street? Another e-mail:

******Parkin to Mill Sts., near Scouton Lee Park. It's only about 300 feet long.******

That makes sense. We paved another trail. I’ve got garden hoses longer than that. I wonder if any voters were won over on Gore Street as our insipid and shameless ‘Paving for Votes’ program progresses.

This paving for votes nonsense is just not resonating with anyone capable of coherent thought in this city. At least not with anyone I’ve met. What I keep hearing is something along the lines of “Can you believe this guy is using tax dollars to campaign with?” Actually, I do. I told ya’ this guy was from the Bubba Clinton school of ruthless politics. Anything goes at all times, no matter how borderline unethical, or how vindictive, or completely boorish. His brand of politics is to be on a war footing at all times. Unfortunately for this city’s sake, his scorched earth policy has left the city needing more humanitarian aid than most of Iraq. And the war continues.

What do we have left? 36 more days of the “World According to Mcg?” I ran across a dude today that predicted that the mayor might actually finish third in the democratic mayoral race based on the feedback he is getting from city residents. Wow! That’s the first time I’ve heard that one! Third? Wouldn’t that be a hint. I heard his fund raiser was a bust unless you want to play make believe. 150 people at the fund raiser of a two term incumbent mayor? Yikes! Who’s running this campaign? Crazy Kevin? Seven years of fighting some bum funk, ramshackle trailer park of a borough for the right to the title as Pennsylvania‘s “As*hole of the State” and all they’ve got is “Council did it, council did it” and the late breaking trail paving gibberish. Man!

The series of ultra-expensive and embarrassing blunders, the threatening and cajoling to get his way and the public tirades and insults are all about to come to roost on May 20, 2003. The pinup boy of the Asphalt Lovers of America is about to be defanged. We won’t have the mayor to carp at anymore, we’ll finally have our progress and a civil and organized city government to boot. We’re going to have an open and honest city government and we’ll all reap the rewards that a little cooperation and teamwork can deliver. We’ll finally have the mayor, the council, the Chamber and the important private sector types on the same page and if anyone elected or otherwise decides to rock the boat, I say the Silly String then needs to be purchased by the case, if not by the truckload. Let’s get May 20th behind us and then start moving forward toward a clean, neat and safe city. When the little things, the things we used to take for granted are restored, the big things should fall into place with some capable management.

We’ve suffered through nearly eight years of tumult, rancor and empty promises of Pyramids. The mayor had his number called twice and he threw interceptions both times. The time has definitely come for those of us that still want to attend the games to demand that a new quarterback be given a chance. I want to see the ball handed to Tom Leighton. If the city has a better chance in someone else’s hands, I just don’t see it.

Guess what? They paved that block of Butler Street behind the adobe today. That was the nice smooth block of Butler that didn’t even need to be paved. You tell me man, I don’t get it. As I was recently told by a city player “You don’t appreciate anything.”


Wasted dollars!

Or, to put it in a more common parlance, I’m not fu*king stupid enough or fu*king corrupt enough to buy into pathetic election year gambits. I’m not buying into anybody’s camp or anybody’s games. What I want is to see Wilkes-Barre rise from the ashes. When are the politicos going to make me happy already?