7-13-2008 Corbett’s diversion

It‘s been a long week. I earned an awful lot of money, but so much so that I can barely remember being on vacation but a week ago. I guess that’s the long version of…I’m beat. I’ll live.

So, I’ve been toiling away all week long, while listening and watching intently. And how did this past work week start? Why, with news that Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty plans to downsize Scranton’s fire department by one-fifth. Yep, from what he’s saying, Scranton has 38 firefighters more than it needs, or is capable of sustaining financially. In addition, the Scranton Police Department is in for “sweeping changes” of still indeterminable degrees.

Court paves way for deep cuts in PA firefighter ranks

"Make no mistake about it, I will reduce the Fire Department staff," Mr. Doherty said, reiterating his intent to act on a recovery plan provision to reduce the Fire Department staff from 150 to about 112.

Being that I do not reside in Scranton, I care not and know not of what Scranton truly needs at this point. That’s for those folks up there to tussle over. Despite the rosy, rosy things that are constantly being bandied about on the local talk radio outlet by resident Steve Rodham Corbett whereas Scranton‘s current condition is concerned, Scranton is a distressed city, and it has more outstanding debts (estimated to be in the hundreds of millions) than does Iraq. Yes, for instance, Scranton has six public swimming pools to Wilkes-Barre’s one, but Scranton’s recent history is one of spending exorbitant sums it doesn’t have.

Still, to hear Rodham Corbett spin the tale, Scranton is the destination where the recently departed go to claim their 77 virgins. Scranton is, literally, heaven…only better.

And that Wilkes-Barre? Ooh, that’s where those recently graduated from death row’s death chamber go to burn forever more. Uh-huh. If you rolled your car, it was run over by three fully-loaded semis, it burst into flames, your seat belt could not be disengaged and Rosie O’Donnell’s first ever single was playing on the car stereo, that’d still beat being anywhere near Wilkes-Barre? Right, Steve?

Anyway, the latest news out of Scranton is distressing, and is sure to generate some sort of brouhaha with the citizenry as the weeks and months pass. And what was Rodham Corbett’s take on all of that? Did he blast his mayor? Did he take issue with the promised reduction in emergency services? Did he support his mayor? Did he agree that costs do indeed need to be rained in?

No! When faced with bad news emanating from Scranton, Rodham Corbett stuck to his well-worn script and tore Wilkes-Barre yet a new one. Yes sir, he kept his head stuck firmly in the sand and reverted to his default position, which is Scranton is awesome. Wilkes-Barre blows. I know. You don’t. And don’t argue with me ‘cause I lived in California, met Michael Jackson, ran with the illegals, know martial arts and I attended college forty years ago.

Here’s his to-the-day diversion from the reality that Scranton is not as perfect a place as he makes it out to be:

Raise Some Hell In Wilkes-Barre

Now current city residents still beg for help and still find themselves alone and abandoned by the saviors of the city who tell the world about the wonderful place they have built for residents and visitors to their town.

The delusion confuses me. The neighborhoods will save the city. But the emphasis is on downtown development, which, frankly, is not going all that well. It just isn’t.

Ah, this regurgitated dill weed nonsense excerpted from Wilkes-Barre Activism 101 as it was written by the very best of Wilkes-Barre’s unelectable activist/candidates.

I, the elected official, say A, and you cry B. I say tit, and you accuse me of wrongdoing for ignoring tat. It’s giving no credit where some credit may be due. It’s offering precision guesswork after the fact, after the corrective action. It’s usually useless bullspit offered forth by the self-aggrandizing would-be know-it-alls. And I can think of no better description for the pap that Rodham Corbett typically spews than precision guesswork and usually useless bullspit offered forth by the self-aggrandizing would-be know-it-all.

If we hire a platoon of new police officers, decry a perceived lack of city firefighters. And, of course, vice versa always applies here. If we replace the playground amenities, bitch about the dilapidated pool that was closed. If we install new streetlights, bitch about the potholes. If we patch the potholes, bitch about the need for even more streetlights. And the Number 1 idiocy as is so oft-spewed by the imbecilic, if we restore the downtown, complain about the condition of the neighborhoods, while knowing full well that if our emphasis was on the many neighborhoods and the many neighborhoods alone, the mentally incontinent would be getting all apoplectic about the empty downtown.

In other words, you’re gonna bitch no matter what the fu>k they do. And in Rodham Corbett’s sad case, no matter what, he’s going to bash Wilkes-Barre only because he has a personal martial arts axe to grind with Mayor Tom Leighton.

Mayor Leighton’s thinking is hallucinatory. What he claims to see simply does not exist. And every starched-shirt ally he has who claims to see the same is doing a similar disservice to the city that truly will die unless help arrives soon.

Solutions exist. Imaginative planners can save the city. But they must acknowledge their past failings and make changes that reflect the lives and the hopes and dreams of people who invest in the city with their lives, not just with their stock portfolios or their membership in the Westmoreland Club of the mind.

Hallucinatory? Excuse me for saying, but I work in Scranton, and I have done so for many years now. And I’m here in tell you that my neighborhood is far superior to Rodham Corbett’s much-ballyhooed neighborhood. The Hill Section? Non-dude, you’re the one hallucinating. Try taking a broom to Mulberry Street from the downtown all the way to the top of the hill. Try taking a few of those couches off of the front porches. And let’s not get into the South Side. There are sections of Jamaica, Queens more attractive than the South Side.

Boohoo, the old homestead in Wilkes-Barre is a wreck these days. Oh, my herb garden is no more. My oriental plantings look shabby. It sounds to me as if it looks much like you left it when you ran away to the earthquake zone. It sounds to me as if you couldn’t change it, but now you know how best to change it. It sounds to me as if Scranton has a powerful financial undertow silently weakening it‘s underpinnings, and rather than admit to it and admit that your painting of Scranton as utopian was mere hogwash, you’d rather change the subject and bash Wilkes-Barre.

Hallucinatory? Scranton has gone the way of Act 47 because it is saddled with heaping piles of outstanding debts. Yet, it’s biggest cheerleader, that aforementioned Rodham Corbett, demands free swimming for the city’s children at it’s six city pools. Yep, that’s how you get out from under those debts: spend even more money you don’t have.

All is well in Scranton? Meanwhile, all has gone asunder in Wilkes-Barre? Look, this guy is either prevaricating his ass off, or he couldn’t pass an aptitude test if it was open book. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a little of both.

You make the call.

Anyway, there’s nothing new here. Rodham Corbett does not live in Wilkes-Barre, so he feels free to try to embarrass Tom Leighton. And since he lives in Scranton, he has no choice but to continue kissing up to Chris Doherty. Tom Leighton gets the critical reviews and the tough questions, while Chris Doherty is received with open arms and a prehensile mouth. And either way you cut it, purposefully misrepresenting reality is hallucinatory at it’s very core.

I’ve got a big-ass block party scheduled for Saturday, August 9, and I challenge Rodham Corbett to attend and then tell me to my face that my neighborhood sucks. I will provide him the opportunity to either tweak his message, or lie to us face-to-face. And since he’s working in talk radio, I’ll waive the per-person fee so as to not bust his budget.

C’mon, Corbett. Come on down, rub elbows with some long time Wilkes-Barre residents and tell us our neighborhood sucks. And, no, as the official block party deejay, no, I will not play your stupid kielbasa song. Down here on Thompson Street, we have higher standards than those you‘re used to.

Enough with Corbett’s diversion from the reality that what plagues my city also plagues his.

Sez me.

I have no idea how this one will play out, but I do have an opinion, as well as a few questions.

Feds eyeing W-B’s use of cop funds

WILKES-BARRE – Acting on a complaint filed by the city’s Crime Watch Coalition, a federal agency is investigating whether the city misused community development block grant money earmarked for community policing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notified the coalition on June 16 that it is investigating concerns raised by Charlotte Raup and four other crime watch members regarding the city’s expenditure of part of the $219,184 in grant money it received in 2007.

The grant is supposed to be used to fund special “community policing” initiatives in low- to moderate-income areas. The coalition filed a formal complaint with HUD in May, questioning whether part of the funds was improperly used to fund routine police activities.

The coalition is specifically questioning the city’s use of the funds to pay part of the salaries of two officers who patrol the Business Improvement District, a captain who compiles city crime statistics and a desk person who answers phones and performs other administrative duties.

Raup said Monday she does not want to see the city lose the funding, but feels strongly it should be earmarked for more proactive measures, including attending crime watch meetings.

The coalition has been at odds with city officials since March, when Mayor Tom Leighton directed police to stop attending crime watch meetings.

“This is not against the police. We just want to get our officers back,” Raup said. “I don’t want to see police lose the money over this. But if they have the money, they should use it correctly.”

What is proactive about attending a meeting? What I mean is, what I could learn at one of these meetings I could likewise learn from a telephone call. Is it proactive to take our police officers off of the streets?

Look, I’m all for police officers attending crime watch meetings. I have no problem with it whatsoever. But with crime watch meetings dispersed all over the city and all over the calendar, when the police department decides against attending, where is it written that that is reactive?

By it’s very nature, most of policing is reactive. We can’t station a police officer on every city block. And with that readily acknowledged, crimes of varying degrees are certain to happen. And when they do occur, the police react.

The way I see it, our police officers need to be on the streets. I was against putting police officers in our high schools, and I still am. Plainly stated, I’d rather throw whatever manpower we’ve got out there on the streets. And when the streets become flooded with patrolling police officers, that’s about as proactive as it gets, assuming that most of us will not commit crimes with police officers watching.

The thing is, isn’t a telephone number or an e-mail address enough for the crime watchers? A few years ago, I had a stash house operating down on the corner. And long story made short, that house was raided by the police as the direct result of a telephone call I made to the detectives division. I made them aware of it, they knew I was deadly serious about putting it out of business and fast, and the result was eight arrests and $83,000 in drugs and cash being confiscated. One phone call put it all in motion. No meeting. No coffee. Just a running dialog.

From what I’ve read, the crime watchers do have a contact person at City Hall with which to relay tips, so why the constant bellyaching? 826-8106 works perfectly fine for me, so what’s up with the need for what I can only call special treatment?

We can go back-and-forth with this proactive versus reactive argument, but I will probably argue against anything that reduces the number of boots on the ground no matter how slightly. It takes bodies to take back the streets. A surge if you will. And that’s exactly what we’ve gotten in this city with the change in city administrations: a surge. And anything that threatens to reduce the size and scope of that surge is something I’m probably dead set against.

When I lock the deadbolt, turn off the lights and slink off to bed, it’s those police officers on the streets that make it possible for me to fall asleep and date Marcia Brady all over again. And while crime watch meetings may or may not be a necessary ancillary, I won’t be washing Marcia’s soapy back as a result of them.

Doggedly stubborn fantasies aside, 826-8106.

It works for me.

Another year, another letter from the Governor’s office. You know, I’m beginning to think this guy is anti-social. Or perhaps we need to decorate the block party in Philthy Dumpia Eagle green and add oversized cheese steaks to the menu.

I dunno.

Mr. Mark Cour,

It is with regret that Governor Rendell will be unable to accept your kind invitation to attend the Block Party scheduled for August 9, 2008.

Although the Governor’s schedule will not permit an appearance at this time, please do not hesitate to keep this office apprised of your future events.

On behalf of the Governor, I want to thank you for your invitation. Should you have any questions, please call my office at the telephone number listed above.

Sarah E. Battisti, Director
Office of scheduling and advance

Oh, well. It would have been a hoot. Perhaps I should not have mentioned that what I truly wanted was to use his garish looking bus to block off the end of the street. Maybe next year when he’s a big time Washington D.C. advisor or something. Or a highly-paid D.C. lobbyist currying influence with the McCain boys. Either way, nothing worth fixing will get fixed.

Anyway, I’m still waiting to hear back from the Lou Barletta folks, as well as John McCain’s handlers. I would have invited Barack Obama, but picturing him comfortably holding a cup of beer and listening to some blaring Molly Hatchet or Cheap Trick is about as foreign a concept as I could ever imagine. Besides, I’m too bitter and still clinging to my beer and loud rock ‘n’ roll for his uppity tastes. Definitely not up to someone of his rapidly diminishing mystical stature.

Whatever.

It‘s not every day that someone blogs about Bald Faced Hornets, so this one caught my interest in a heartbeat.

Bees

First off, I fear no stinging insects, with one notable exception. You got it, Bald Faced Hornets. These things are to being nasty and aggressive what nuclear weapons are to being lethal. If it’s big and black and buzzing all about, get the hell away from it. They’re big, they’re very territorial and they’ve got stingers the size of Tomahawk missiles. I once got zapped on the side of the neck by one of these menaces while I was standing right next to a female customer. And guess which word eked from my lips as a result? She was very understanding while I simultaneously winced and apologized.

More often than not, if Bald Faced Hornets think you are trespassing too close to their hive, the guards will attack you before you’re even aware of their presence. And, again, more often than not, they go right after your face. Pricks.

Years ago, I had a huge hornet nest attached to the bottom of an attic window perched just below the highest peak of a home at Harveys Lake. Rather than throw up a forty-foot ladder, I figured I could go up into the attic, lower the top pane of glass in the aged window and stab that nest from the top--the blind side--with a bulb duster. Sounded fairly doable to me. They wouldn’t see me coming, I’d inject that massive hive full of insecticidal dust, they’d freak the funk out for an hour or so, and then they’d all go to that great beehive in the sky. Right?

Just in case, I took a can of contact spray, and a rather potent one. By the way, just in case means if things go unexpectedly and horribly wrong, which they can and sometimes do when dealing with the most aggressive pests I have ever run across.

So, I lowered the top of the window and took a quick peak down at the hive. Cool, they didn’t spot me. Didn’t even know I was there. Despite the fact that the attic was hotter than Kuwait in the summer, I put on a pair of overalls, a work glove on my right hand and then wrapped duct tape around my wrist so as to give them no chance of getting inside of my sleeve. I then snuck another quick peek at the target, shook down that duster just right, stuck my right arm out of the top of the window and all hell instantly broke loose. And that word eked out again.

Fu>k! Fu>k!

The first two bounced off of my glasses, the third off of the brim of my cap, the fourth one stung me on the neck, while a full retreat was well underway. I flailed for the can of contact spray wedged in my back pocket as I ran away from the window and almost fell down the attic steps. They were buzzing all around me and very loudly. I started knocking them down with the contact spray, but they continued to flood through that open window. So, there was no option left to me other than wading right through them in an effort to get that damn window closed. Mind you, this attic had no solid floor, just a bunch of haphazardly placed planks. How I didn’t go through the ceiling and land in a bedroom beneath me is beyond me. I got lucky.

Anyway, I finally got the window closed, got stung a bunch of times, killed them off one-by-one as fast as I could, and my neck, my left hand, and my right earlobe hurt for the better part of a freaking week. Although, I got lucky in another hugely important respect. Being that I neglected to wear any eye protection, I’m probably fortunate that I did not lose an eye as the result of a sting. And all this after they supposedly never saw me coming.

Like I said, if it’s big and black and buzzing all about, you might be better served to simply stay far, far away from it. When it comes to stinging insects, there are those times when it’s better to get all timid and err on the side of caution.

Trust me, I know.

Just this past Monday morning, I was discussing the matters at hand with a customer, which meant the heavy-duty construction-grade headphones were disengaged. Eventually, I headed outside, got to work, threw those phones on my head and heard Nancy Kman at WILK welcoming Tom Leighton to her radio talk show.

Whoa!, I thought. They finally went and did it. They finally unfairly bashed Wilkes-Barre to the dizzying point where Tom Leighton’s temper boiled over. Obviously he was on the phone and ready to launch on somebody. This was it. He couldn’t stand it any more. They finally went and goaded him into a robust talk radio freak out event. And this moment had been a long, long, long time coming.

Much to my surprise, he was calling in to thank the morning talk show hosts for their kind comments regarding Wilkes-Barre’s noticeable and continuing turnaround. I was flabbergasted times two.

First of all, I was flabbergasted because he bothered to call in the first place. More importantly, I was shocked to hear that any on-air personality at WILK would say anything other than demeaning about Wilkes-Barre. They said something nice about Wilkes-Barre? C’mon? What did they say, for cripes sake? Why, there must have been a miniscule gas leak up there rendering the talk show hosts lightheaded. Somebody at WILK sucked it up and admitted they were wrong all along? And I missed it?

I want a recorded copy of that segment. Jesus H. Christ, the wonders never cease! What’s next? Rodham Corbett gives with the pretentious look-at-me bullspit and enjoys a medium-rare hamburger smothered in A-1 sauce? Kevin Lynn admits that his only real accomplishment in life is managing to stay alive? This is bonkers.

Wow! Tom Leighton called WILK and a verbal imbroglio did not ensue?

Wow!

Finally, Barack Obama says that my offspring should be made to learn Spanish. Really? Okay, we’ll take care of that right after his kids learn Pig Latin. How about sign language? Or, perhaps, right after he learns the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Or how to talk to people as if they weren’t living in a tin shack with a dirt floor on a muddy road in the hills of Appalachia.

Bitter, clinging, and now ignorant hicks all. And this from the arrogant, condescending know-nothing that did nothing of note. The Clueless Wonder who would be king.

Wanna know what?

Fu>k him!

Later






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