4-1-2007 I'm still here

This winterĎs layoff from work was the longest I had ever enjoyed and suffered through. I always approach these layoffs with a two-step process. During the first stage I goof off, eat too much and consume way too many of those agricultural amusement aids. Then during the latter stage, the bike rides, vigorous walkabouts and dumbbell workouts dominate the proceedings. They seem to help, but only so much.

After a 6-day week mucking about with those subterranean menaces, it becomes obvious that there is no substitute for hard work other than steady doses of hard work itself. Iím sore in a few spots, my right wrist has itself a persistent ache, but still I hit the streets on the Hummer as soon as that 6-day workweek came to an end. They tell me the older you get, the harder it is to stay in shape. So, I figure as long as I can do it, I might as well be aggressive as the years pass. It may or may not help, but Iíd rather keel over in shape than twaddle along for years on end without being able to see my toes.

Iím sore, but satisfied.

A few years ago, I tried to drop dial-up in favor of Verizon DSL. I ordered the modem and the software and a friend of mine promised to walk me through the conversion if I had any problem with it. I really didnít anticipate any problems, but lo-and-behold Verizon DSL seems to be fraught with problems. Long story short, despite the hours we devoted to it, I never got the damn thing to work at all. I didnít get on line using DSL for a split second. The tech support people at Verizon offered me a litany of hardware excuses, and their useless suggestions cost me quite a few dollars in hardware upgrades. But in the end, no DSL. The good news is, I went with high-speed cable and it rocks.

The same exact thing happened to a friend of mine, and now, Iíve learned that the exact same thing and the exact same excuses have been inflicted upon my son. Heís got himself a very reliable Emachines Ďputer with all of the necessary bells and whistles, but the DSL experience ainít happening for him either. So, I advised him to call for some tech support.

First of all, the newfangled tech geeks are located in Bhopal, India, so good luck unless youíve got a Gibberish-to-English translator on the payroll. Secondly, it seems that Verizon has not really progressed too much as far as helping new customers to get their DSL software up and running. They offered my son the same worthless bullspit that they offered me some years before.

Buy a new Ethernet cable. Didnít work.

Buy a new Ethernet card. Didnít work.

Call the manufacturer of the card for tech support. Calling India again didnít work.

Try this that and the other thing which you could barely understand as it was told to you in severely broken English. Didnít work.

TryÖOh, get bent already, Prakash! Here we come high-speed cable.

Trust me, My intent is not to slam Verizon. Who knows, their DSL program just might work fine when enough positive ions are bombarding earth with the right intensity and speed. But this much I know, tech support offered by people who cannot speak English is no support at all.

So, Corporate America out-sources our jobs while in search of higher and higher profits, but good service immediately goes by the wayside. And they donít care one lick. They donít care. All that matters to them is getting the sale, getting the continuing sales and all other priorities are rescinded. They display their grandiose-sounding mission statements, but they are nothing more than empty words. And isnít it peculiar that while we toil away in a ďservice economy,Ē service is always the first casualty of the ongoing battle for higher profits.

You want capable tech support?

Call Uncle Jiggy.

This here letter to the editors at the Times Leader had me scratching my dandruff.

Yes, Walter Griffith has gone and done it again.

Commitment in city government should be for the long haul

What has he done? Well, he explained to us that he and he alone deserves to sit on city council. And, from what Iím hearing, he has confused some of us by attacking a council hopeful that he is not competing with for the voterís affections. Is he hoping to siphon votes away from Charlotte Raup, who is running in a whole other voting district? (?) Or is he questioning her commitment simply because itís personal? Rick Cronauer is a fair target, being that Walter and Rick are competing in the same voting district. But whatís up with questioning the commitment of the president of the cityís Crime Watch Coalition? Is he mental?

As for Rick Cronauerís letter, wherein he points to the need for more individuals (such as himself and Ms. Raup) to step forward with a strong voice to represent residents and further the cityís progress, let me ask: Where was this commitment during the decade or more of the deterioration of city finances and commerce?

Where was this commitment over the last four years as neighborhood street cleaning became a luxury rather than a necessity and residents found themselves cleaning out catch basins and shoveling snow from streets and alleys?

Where was this commitment as firehouses were closed and those that remained were understaffed? And where was this commitment when our current elected city officials used our tax dollars to try to change the will of the voters and a state court decision confirming the cityís redistricting ?

Yo, Walt! Just because youíve been relentlessly campaigning for a city council seat for 7 long years doesnít mean everybody else has to. And your commitment, attending city council meetings and standing corrected, does not entitle you to being the very first inductee into the Wilkes-Barre Hall of Fame. You picked your moment in time to step up and get involved, and now others are doing the same. But you reserve the right to publicly question their timing, if not, their motivations? I was under the mistaken impression that the activists of your ilk encouraged the participation of the common hardscrabble folks. But now youíre attacking them for having done so? Youíre sending a contradictory signal here, Walt, but, what else is new?

Felling vulnerable all of a sudden? You want increased participation, but not during election years?

I encourage citizens to weigh carefully the difference between words and actions among those seeking election to city council. In the past four years, I have made many commitments, including those of time and energy, to be a voice for city residents.

I have attended and spoken at numerous council meetings; initiated legal action to try to sustain the votersí will, and questioning the rationale for and outcomes of city hall.

Letís not be opportunists. If we are truly interested in seeking and holding public office, let us have the honesty, integrity and ongoing commitment to be responsible and effective public servants during and after each four-year election cycle.

I encourage citizens to weigh carefully the difference between words and actions among those seeking election to city council.

Is he serious? He offers action, but suggests that a woman who has unselfishly donated countless thousands of hours of her time to improving our city offers only words? Boy, is he in for a very rude surprise. Typical, though. Yammering on and on about something he knows little or nothing about.

Opportunists, heh? The self-styled revolutionary would prefer to go it alone? Heís been on the campaign trail longer than my grandkids have been alive, and in his mind, he deserves that city council seat. But, the most recent entrants into the political free-for-all are not worthy, simply because they have not been campaigning near as long as he has. He attends city council meetings, and they rarely do likewise. So?

Funny, though, from one side of his mouth he congratulates himself for doing so. And from that other side, he criticizes the current council folk because, according to him, all they do is attend city council meetings. Thatís it. Remember, as told by the man who would be king, they are part-time employees. Heís dedicated, they are not, and anyone else that decides to get involved immediately becomes his target. He is deserving, and they are not. The troubling illogic, the obvious double talk at election time is further proof that he would be smart to start working on a rough draft of his concession speech.

Anyway, I wonít give him much for his feeble chances during this election go-round, but I do wish him luck in 2011.

Oh, and in 2015, when we switch back to electing our city council at-large.

Then weíve got the following letter that was also published in todayís Times Leader.

Who says all press is good press?

Transportation hub takes wrong turn in face of LCTA shortfall

It is ironic that on the same exact day that the governor announced that the Luzerne County Transportation Authority may have to cease operations due to lack of funding, the Wilkes-Barre City Council gave preliminary approval to take out a $6 million bond to pay for the intermodal center downtown.

Our city does not have enough cops or adequate fire protection but our downtown may have an empty transportation hub to be proud of.

Before this plan is allowed to go through, the mayor and council members are obligated to the people of Wilkes-Barre to make sure that the burden of this debt does not fall on the taxpayers.

This is especially true because Wilkes-Barreís basic needs (police protection, fire protection, Department of Public Works services) are not being taken care of.

Timothy Anderson District D city council candidate Wilkes-Barre

Yawn.

The latest LCTA scare. Ho hum. First off, the Luzerne County Transportation Authority is never going to cease operations. Mass transit will be used as a political football now and again, as it has of late, but itíll never happen. The countless industries that rely on the lower-wage workers to conduct business will rally against any serious move to cut the funding of mass transportation. And no politician anywhere near the governorís stage is going to allow himself to be painted as being unconcerned for the needs of the poor, the disabled and the elderly.

The $6 million bond taken to finance the construction of the intermodel center will primarily be paid off by receipts from the garage itself. And since everybody this side of the river says the downtown lacks adequate parking, this one is a municipal no-brainer. Weíre about to add more than 700 parking spaces to the downtown landscape, and itís being portrayed as a negative?

The city needs more police protection? Well, yeah, since drugs have infiltrated every segment of society and are responsible for just about every crime committed, yes, we need as much police protection as humanly possible.

But, to cite a lack of police protection during this election cycle is foolhardy at best. Since taking the keys to the city, the current administration has added 21 new police officers, 3 drug-sniffing K-9s, scores of new police vehicles, a paddy wagon in lieu of caged units, remodeled headquarters, created the Viper Unit and has reconstituted the long dormant SWAT option of last resort.

And if thatís not entirely impressive enough, all of this has come to pass while the city has still managed to balance itís formerly red ink-stained books. And thatís not cheerleading folks, them thereís facts.

Too late now, it was published.

HereĎs a frightening fact for the city council candidates running in both District D and District E.. For those of you still somewhat confused by this voting by district malarkey, that would be the Parsons/East End district with a sprinkling of the Heights thrown in for further confusion, and the North End/Miners Mills district.

While weíve got city council hopefuls beginning to promise this, that and everything; know this.

The vast majority of Parsons, Miners Mills and most of East End do not qualify for Community Development Block Grants, simply because the average household incomes of those areas exceed the eligibility requirements for using CDBGs. You see, CDBG funds typically go to improve the infrastructures of low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

And with those eligibility restrictions in place, infrastructures upgrades in those neighborhoods have to be paid for by liquid fuel monies, by the general fund, or by procuring previously unheard of grant funds.

In other words, the city council candidates in those two voting districts had better be very careful before they get to promising this, that and everything for the purposes of getting themselves elected.

And no matter who the mayor might be at any given time, they had better have a very good working relationship with said mayor if they ever hope to get anything of note accomplished in those districts. All told, they had better be supportive of that mayor.

You wanted voting by districts and you got it.

From the e-mail inbox hi mark

noticed your anonymous critic hasn't had much to say as of late.

another one bites the dust????

mXX

Iíve received a pile of e-mails just like yours. Iím not sure whatís up with the latest to pick a fight with me, but, as far as Iím concerned, he/she/it should continue blogging. Agreeing with me is not a prerequisite to babbling on the internet. Although, if they wanna fight, weíll fight. Iím always good to go.

Another pile of e-mails was devoted to speculating about just who the newest mystery man/woman/insect might be. And the clear favorite was former city administrator Jim Hayward. My immediate reaction to that was, ďYou think?Ē Then again, I didnít give it much thought. Anonymous attackers are a dime a dozen on the internet, and they do not cause me any loss of sleep.

Although, I was made aware of the fact that the site in question is sprinkled with legalese from top to bottom, and since heís an attorney, who knows? Never before has a local blogger gotten to demanding ďdisclosureĒ and what have you from other local bloggers, so maybe it is him.

Honestly, I could really care less, except to say, if he/she/it wants to fight, weíll fight.

Yummy

Later