12-29-2006 National Drunk Blogging Day

Christmas was fun and I’m hoping you all feel the same. Three more days to go and then you can all swear to be resolute about changing some aspect of your lives only to go and display a clear lack of willpower. Don’t sweat it, though. Misery loves company.

That reminds me, since today is National Drunk Blogging Day, I figure I am in no way responsible for what I may type from this point on. I got me 60 cans of Natural Light and I’m ready to rock. Fasten your seatbelts.

I see that some of the locals who scribble away on the internet have pointed to the following Times Leader story as being proof of county-wide corruption. Woe is us, corruption is rampant. These would be the same people too completely hapless to properly operate YouTube.com. Whatever. Take it for what it is.

A free parking flap in W-B

WILKES-BARRE – It’s 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the heart of a workday in a downtown occasionally strapped for prime parking spaces.

Along North Franklin Street and West Union Street, just a block from Public Square and next to King’s College, cars of students, workers, and business patrons line the curbs in front of coin-hungry parking meters.

And on the prowl are those meddlesome meter police, waiting to see the flashing red light atop expired meters to expose a vehicle hogging a space without paying up.

Then comes the parking ticket, affixed between the windshield and wiper blade. But those police are apparently blind to some of the flashing meters in that part of downtown. And now a city boss says he’s going to try to find out why.

Parking tickets were plastered to the windshields of only some vehicles this particular Tuesday, as it has been every other workday for at least several months.

The beat-up blue Ford Bronco? Expired meter, parking ticket.

The silver Honda behind it? Expired meter, no ticket.

The economy-size Ford? Expired meter, ticket.

The Ford pickup behind that? Expired meter, no ticket.

Why?

I used to collate with one of the parking enforcement guys, but I don’t think he works in that position anymore. I once had the opportunity to listen to him fend off complaints and excuses from those he had ticketed. Funny as all hell, as well as educational. Long story short, he seemed to take his job very seriously.

As for this current bunch, they are to radio etiquette what Rosy O’Donnell is to being sexy--but that’s another problem. The selected ticketing reported by the Times Leader are, as of yet, allegations. But for the sake of the argument, let’s assume them to be accurate and true.

It needs to be noted that these allegations of selected ticketing are by no means new. During the McGroarty days, quite a few college kids contacted me about the very same goings-on, especially on South Franklin Street. Seems the college kids got ticketed quite regularly, while the high-priced cars belonging to the business professionals did not. I was even promised a picture of a nubile girl from Kings exposing her rather healthy mammalian protuberances to the parking enforcement guy as a protest of sorts, but it never arrived. Darn.

I will say this: if girls exposing themselves is the worst protest I’ll ever face, I’m real good with all of that.

Anyway, the accusation is not a new one. The questions I have with all of this is, who do these parking enforcement people answer to, how often are they being observed in the field and is the selective ticketing of cars an offense worthy of an immediate dismissal? As far as I’m concerned, after being proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by their higher-ups, they should be cut loose faster than fast.

As for the question of how often they are being observed while doing their assigned duties--to hire, train and then deploy someone and then never follow up on them is just begging for some sort of malarkey to be going on. And since these allegations are nothing new, this suggests to me that the parking division might just be suffering from a lack of direct oversight. I mean to say, why is it that I encounter these guys cloud watching in front of the Steam Heat building almost every time I cycle on by there during the late afternoon?

Again, assuming this is all true, in my mind this is nothing short of theft. If the parking tickets are not written, the city loses income. If the tickets are not being written, the return investment on the ticket writer’s position is falling short of expectations. If a waitress purposely doesn’t charge her family for the desserts she served to them, that is theft. If a meter guy purposely doesn’t write a ticket for whomever, what’s the difference? That’s theft. And if it hurts the bottom line of the employer, it’s clearly grounds for immediate termination.

The thing I find to be most annoying about all of this is that county employees may have been treated to free parking on an on-going basis. Who the fu>k are they to be receiving free anything? Very many of these people got where they are because they know somebody important. Tell me I’m wrong. So, if you sucked up and got yourself a job, that’s not enough from the treasure trove that is the Luzerne County Lottery? You need more freebies? More perks? You need free parking, too? That’s a pretty cavalier attitude coming from those that are supposed to be serving the public, not bilking it at every possible turn.

Hey Commissioners, let the savage beatings begin! This is the kind of rubbish that makes people apathetic in the first place. Some suck-up of a party apparatchik gets free parking for life, but the poor slobs paying the skyrocketing taxes get ticketed left and right? This is why the average Joe gets to saying you’re all fu>king corrupt after but a few beers down at the corner watering hole. Why? Because you self-serving folks force him to mouth those words.

Who are these people who put the business cards in plain view so as to be exempt from ticketing? I’d really, really like to know. And I’d also like to know if they’re going to pay restitution to the city. They willfully and gleefully damaged the bottom line of this city over time, so when are they going to pay for their crimes? Yes, Commissioners, theft of services is a crime.

Think, for a moment, of what other seemingly innocent scams are being perpetrated upon the unknowing taxpayers by the self-serving county apparatchiks .

Makes me want to urinate on my keyboard.

(No, the Natural Lights have not kicked in yet.)

One thing is undeniably certain whereas this proposed inflatable dam is concerned. Over the years, the dam’s dwindling number of proponents have issued one contradictory statement after another. And I’m left with one or two possible explanations. They either don’t know what they are talking about, or, truth be damned, they are saying whatever is necessary to get the damn permits to erect the dam.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

County readies response to inflatable dam concerns

The county response to the agencies, which are reviewing the county’s application for permits, is due in mid-January, Brozena said.

The county could propose a notice system to alert the public to stay out of the river when water quality is poor, Brozena said.

Dam critics complain it would collect water polluted by old mines and sewage. Sewage pours into the river after heavy rain largely because storm runoff and sewage share the same pipes in many spots in the Wyoming Valley.

I snagged a couple of smallish blurbs from our Dammer-in-Chief’s Web site:

Paul E. Kanjorski

Maintaining Aquatic and Terrestrial Wildlife

The project will not interfere with the annual shad migration because this process typically occurs in the months before the dam would be inflated. An environmental impact study found that the inflatable dam would pose no significant environmental danger to local aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

From today’s Voice story:

Brozena said DEP and the Corps rejected a plan to partially deflate the dam at times to help fish get upstream. He said the county will go back to a plan to build a fish passage facility.

From Uncle Paul again:

Promoting Economic Growth Gannett-Fleming's award-winning feasibility study indicates the project would attract up to 400,000 visitors each year, bringing about $70 million in economic activity. The state and local governments would recover more than their original stake in the construction cost through the economic benefits that this project will bring to the Wyoming Valley.

Now let us get this straight. “The inflatable dam would pose no significant environmental danger to local aquatic and terrestrial wildlife,” and “ the project would attract up to 400,000 visitors each year.” But, now they are back to telling us “The county could propose a notice system to alert the public to stay out of the river when water quality is poor.”

When the river quality is poor? Wow! There’s an admission of sorts. I thought creating a lake on a now free-flowing river would have no adverse effects on the water quality. That’s the con job we’ve been getting up until now. It won’t hurt the fish. It might hurt the fish. Wait, that’s right, it will not hurt the fish. Um, well, maybe it will hurt the fish. This is hogwash wrapped in floaters.

Oh, and what of those 400,000 visitors who might make the weekly trek to Wilkes-Barre to recreate on damned sewage and what have you. After they arrive, spread open the blanket and start their picnic, county vehicles appear on top of the dike with loudspeakers ordering the picnickers away from the water’s edge? It’d probably be a lot easier to clear Lake Kanjorski and it’s surrounding banks if they’d just have some girl stand on the dike, point off in the distance somewhere and scream “Shark!” at the top of her lungs.

This is all so much abject foolishness it’s staring to approximate wrongdoing on the part of our local officials. Right from the get-go it was a bad idea proposed for the wrong stretch of the river and yet, our local officials absolutely refuse to cut their losses and admit their long trail of mistakes.

Fact: Pennsylvania leads in the nation in the removal of dams.

Fact: Many of our long-polluted tributaries and such have been returned to their original free-flowing states.

Fact: Free-flowing bodies of water can regenerate themselves over time if the pollutants are systematically removed from the mix.

Fact: Dammed rivers cannot regenerate themselves.

But in the Wyoming Valley, we’re being told that our lives will be significantly enhanced by putting a dam across a polluted river that receives a steady dose of sewage from a long-antiquated system of subterranean pipes.

Now, you tell me.

And try doing the math. They told us the dam would be inflated for five months every year. That would provide us with 20 weeks by which we could windsurf, scuba dive or do whatever it is that intelligent people everywhere enjoy doing in feces. 400,000 visitors divided by 20 weeks amounts to 20,000 people cavorting on, in or very near the river each and every week. 20,000 visitors a week? Does anyone honestly see that happening?

And this cart before the horse approach to cleaning the river is the biggest bunch of hogwash going. Damming a polluted river will provide the needed impetus by which we can finally get the river cleaned up? I realize it’s National Drunk Blogging Day, but the good congressman and our county commissioners and have got this asinine thing totally bass-ackwards. Or, is it shad-backwards? Got me, I just work here.

Argh!!!

I need another beer.

Since Kevin Lynn claims he simply adores the free publicity his show receives when people rail against it, I figure I’ll give him yet another free plug.

It seems as though the entirely of Saddam Hussein’s remaining days could be counted on one hand. This is a guy who is directly responsible for millions of deaths. This is a guy who has had no problem with spilling blood other than his own. This is a guy who did more to create instability in the middle east than anyone else on this planet. This is the guy who did unspeakable things to his own people by way of torture. And this is the same guy who used Weapons of Mass Destruction against not only the Iranians, but his own people as well.

So, while discussing Saddam’s impending execution this morning, Kevin was just about to declare that there is not a bit of difference between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush when Nancy rushed to cut him off in mid-sentence. While she may lean decidedly left, she proved once again that she is not irresponsible. As for Kevin, he’s reliving his glorious Vietnam protest days all over again and apparently sees nothing inappropriate about his daily smidgeon of hateful invective going out over the airwaves.

End free plug.

(While I may be in need of another beer as I type this needless swill, I’d say he’s had his fill and then some.)

One, two, three, what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn! Next stop is Vietnam!

Ah, the good ole drug-crazed days. Legalize ‘em all!

I‘m not sure how many of you may have missed the following story from the Weekender, but it really is a must-read.

Planting the seeds to downtown development

Recently I met a really nice guy from Pittston who, after some spirited conversation, asked me where I happen to reside. When I told him I lived in the Nord End of Wilkes-Barre, he then asked me what I thought of our mayor’s job performance so far. I responded by telling him that I’m of the opinion that he’s been nothing short of miraculous to this point. I went on to say that with the city’s finances being in the frighteningly deplorable state that they were when he first ascended to the throne, not much more could be asked of him during his first term.

The thing is, we can all see the new buildings being erected and the older ones being remodeled. We can see the increased police presence and the much-increased foot traffic in the downtown. Come this spring, we will see quite a few other high-profile projects get well underway. Mayor Leighton once asked us to believe only to be roundly criticized by those who had heard it all before, only to be disappointed. But as the Diamond City Partnership’s recently produced “Seeing Is Believing” map of downtown Wilkes-Barre’s numerous and far-flung projects correctly points out, the landscape of the city is changing in a decidedly positive way. But what the electorate cannot see is how the city’s finances have been put back on stable footing and quickly, no less. And this is Mayor Leighton’s finest achievement, even if it flies under the radar of those he serves to a very large degree.

Anyway, when I made reference to the city’s piss-poor financial position when Mayor Leighton first took office, the guy from Pittston shot back with “Just imagine what he could have done if he actually had some money at his disposal.”

Boy oh boy, I hear that.

(Rutro! I think the beers are kickin’ in.)

Despite the obvious signs of some serious progress popping up all around us, judging by what gets published in the newspapers, you’d swear we were all living in some southern war-torn quadrant of Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is, I find this constant drumbeat of abject negativity to be almost overwhelmingly frustrating. And, as astonishing as it may be, the negative headlines are generated by the same half-dozen or so malcontents at nearly every turn. If we hire ten new cops, the same thoroughly discredited “activists” are contacted by the newspapers to offer some sort of hack-kneed counterpoint.

We hired more cops? Yeah, well when are we going to pave the streets?

We paved the streets? Yeah, well when are we going to hire some more cops?

We got three new fire engines? Yeah, well when are we going to get more firehouses?

We got more firehouses? Yeah, well when are we going to hire more firemen.

You simply can’t win with these self-serving “activists.” And their insufferable illogic is readily-apparent, except to those who toil away for our two local newspapers. Or so it seems. No matter what goes up, the city’s image must be torn down. Wilkes-Barre hasn’t had anything good delivered to it since the city was rebuilt following the Agnes flooding. Yet, we are treated to the nonstop griping of the mentally incontinent, as well as from those who gripe by design for personal, electoral gain. And with all of the undeniably positive changes that have come about in this city since we last took part in a mayoral election, the regrettably counterproductive parade of negativity is perpendicular to rational thought. It is, at least to me, mind-numbingly ill-advised, if not, short-sighted beyond all possible comprehension. It is counterintuitive on steroids.

I have called this city my home since 1971 and putting the Agnes rebuilding aside, I have never seen so many positive changes come about in this city in such a short space of time since settling here. Once upon a time, dilapidated buildings went unnoticed. Once upon a time, empty storefronts were to be expected. Once upon a time, our broken sidewalks were the playgrounds of derelicts and prostitutes. Now, the dilapidated buildings are being remodeled, or being removed from the landscape altogether. Now, the empty storefronts are begrudgingly giving way to exciting retail concerns. Now, the derelicts and prostitutes have abandoned their former haunts as only increased foot traffic could force them to do. Now, Wilkes-Barre is finally turning that corner that seemed to be an insurmountable roadblock for three long painful decades. Now, we have hope, albeit a still nervous hope, where none previously existed before.

It is inherently easier to be negative than it is to be positive. It may be asking too much of the long-dispirited Wilkes-Barre populace to be suddenly optimistic when recent history compels them to retreat to the relative, uneasy comfort that negativity provides them. To admit to believing in a city known more for failures than successes is at best, a leap of faith most will be reluctant to take. Although, our local government-delivered and well-entrenched fears are very quickly becoming inordinate fears whereas Wilkes-Barre’s ongoing rebirth is concerned.

I realize that too many of us that call this city our home are simply incapable of saying “I believe” for fear of being disappointed all over again. I understand how that destructively negative mindset has persisted throughout this area since the demise of the coal industry and the textile sweatshops. I know we haven’t had much to feel positive about in a very, very long time. But, I’m here to tell you that we have finally turned that frightful corner we thought we’d never turn, and at this point, while Wilkes-Barre is being systematically rebuilt one defunct property at a time, the only thing we are seriously lacking in is civic pride.

Perhaps we’ve been so completely shell-shocked for so long now, we have absolutely no idea how to be anything but completely shell-shocked. Whatever the case may be, as a lowly sprat of but ten, I knew this city would one day become my final resting place. I knew this was where I wanted to be. Wilkes-Barre was, at least for me, a special place. And while it may have lost much of it’s original luster along the troubled way, it is fast, fast regaining some semblance of what first captured my imagination and lured me here.

As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got responsible leaders in place. We’ve got more progress going on than we could have ever dared to hope for. We’ve got exciting amenities added to the mix, as well as noticeable infrastructure improvements. And if that’s not enough to dispel the negative mindset, we’ve got tons more high-profile projects on the way.

So, I’m left to ask, what more do we need to finally “believe” in an obviously rebounding city that has for so long had little or nothing to believe in? When should we finally provide the only missing piece of Wilkes-Barre’s rejuvenation? When do we finally admit to having some pride in our rapidly improving community? When?

Soon, I hope.

Them’s my thoughts.

Later

(Hiccup!)

Only eweven beers.

How'd doed I do?






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