1-23-2005 Death by Tom Clark?

WARNING: The following gibberish could in no way be deemed to be politically correct. Proceed at your own risk.

Is anyone still out there? Are you folks okay? Did the milk and bread melt the snow on your sidewalks?

After listening to the weathermen brimming with excitement tell the tale, you would have thought that wave after wave after wave of giant, albino man-eating locusts were on their way to a back yard near you? Them! Them!! Them!!! We're talkin' impending death from above here, baby.

It snowed, it snowed and it snowed some more. Big freakin' whoop. How many inches did we get? Got me, but it's almost enough to make me ground the Rock Stomper indefinately. Well, almost. I just got back from a walkabout and the roads are all very passable. The DPW boys stayed out all night long just a plowin' away. I did some shoveling this morning. I had to dig out Ebon's car after it got stuck in the lot upon her return from work. (Yes, she even made it to work this morning) Last night, I enjoyed an invigorating walkabout during the height of the storm. Ditto this morning. I had a coffee from "Oh Yes" in one hand, and a digital camera in the other. I had my kick-ass boots on that most everyone makes fun of. I had the long johns on. A Braves cap. (Ear muffs are for chicks) Plus the nearly weatherproof $40 "Trek" winterized mountain bike gloves.

Snow storm, schmow storm. I am not impressed.

Then there's...Scanner Land.

You could tell by Tom Clark's obvious stiffy during the latter part of the work week that we were going to get some significant snowfall amounts. With each successive forecast, the predicted snowfall totals kept inching higher and higher. And both WBRE and WNEP rushed their cameras to the local grocery outlets hoping to see the bread aisles turned into full-blown Cabbage Patch Doll riots, ala Zayre's Department store circa 1980.

On a very brief aside, my sister once got busted in that store for pocketing a plastic comb. Nuts, I know, but a twisted true story. It seems she walked on over there on an extremely windy day. And being the chick that she is, upon arrival, she just had to fix her hair. Unfortunately, she had neither a comb or an over-sized hair brush for that matter. So she takes the 29 cent comb out the packaging, fixes her hair, and not thinking...automatically slips the comb into her back pocket. And after paying for whatever trinkets that seemed so damned important in the first place, she headed for the exit and got snagged by a Rent-A-Cop turned store dick. And after a bit of interrogation and a "Scared Straight" visit from a stern-looking Wilkes-Barre cop, she was released on her own recognizance minus one comb. All for a comb that could be had at the neighborhood Louden Hill for less than 29 cents. And the moral of this not so brief aside? Wear a frickin' ball cap at all times. Now back to the death and destruction stuff.

Forget the giant, albino man-eating locusts. Herein (bread and milk riots) lies the greatest risk to your personal safety as the "killer" storm approaches. If you happen upon the last couple loaves of bread while being in very close proximity to some hurried-looking forty-something divorcees sporting some QVC ear muffs that look as if they were produced by a bunch of Russians just back from yet another Vodka break; back the f**k off before you find yourself being whisked away to Geisinger in Medic 5. I'm telling ya, man. Pay close attention to your surroundings after Tom Clark and the rain guage boys get the chickies thoroughly whipped into a bread and milk feeding-frenzy. I'm not mucking about here. This could save your life. And trust me, it's a helluva lot safer at the beer distributor.

Alright, so I strayed way, way off of the subject at hand. Anyways, Scanner Land. With the Tom Clark's of the world having scared the snot out of the populace, and seemingly everyone having hunkered down last night; I had to figure that the scanner would be very quiet last night. At the most, I expected some medic calls and a few minor MVAs, but nothing above and beyond with the albino insects posing as crunchy water raining down on us harder than Walter Griffith pounds on the podium at a council meeting. NOT!

If last night was any example at all, the drunkards, the druggies, the rowdies and the whack jobs never take even a single night off. I stayed up way too late during the overnight watching a profanity marathon (Cool!) of legendary proportions titled "Jay and Silent Bob," and for the better part of the night we had more calls for cops than we had cops. Quite honesty, I couldn't freaking believe it. And then I rolled out of bed this morning only to find some complete bilge in the SAYSO column demanding that we make our cops earn (?) their money for a change. Apparently, dealing with the worst that humanity has to offer without as much as a break counts for nothing in the small minds of some folks.

For me, it's far beyond crystal clear that some of those among us need to spend less time exercising their forearm to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and more time paying much closer attention to their immediate environs. Anyhooey, if there really is a God, that clueless caller to SAYSO will one day find himself at Price Chopper totally surrounded by hostile QVC junkies while clutching the very last of the pumpernickel loaves. And the likely official cause of death as determined by the Luzerne County Deputy Coroner? Death by Tom Clark.

Hmmm. Death by Tom Clark? Hmmm. Maybe...maybe, just maybe, I was dead wrong whereas death and destruction from the frightful skies is concerned. In some extreme cases, albeit, indirectly, these horrific albino locust storms just might have the potential to be deadly afterall.


I'm scared

Right about now...I'm eager to take a shower and settle into the Bartuska/WILK recliner for some playoff football. It should prove to be interesting.

As of this month, Tom Leighton has been in office as our fearless leader for one full year. And rather than whip up some sort of year in review for all y'all to take issue with, I thought I'd re-post his words from two years ago when he first announced his candidacy for our top spot and allow the rest of ya to comment. Below is his speech from his coming out as a candidate event at the Ramada. And after that I re-posted his original agenda as it was posted on his campaign web site which has long since been deleted from the internet. These are his words, and I'm giving all of you the opportunity to re-hash what sounded so attractive way back when and also the chance to comment on how you think he's done as mayor so far.

Do it. Let us know how you feel. If you want your comments posted anonymously, just lemme know, provided that I know who the source is and the comments offered are somewhat cogent. If not otherwise warned beforehand, I will post your name. And I will not react to anyone's opinion in any shape or form. I will not give you a shout out. And I will not bust your ya-yas in any way. Go ahead, re-visit what he had to say to us two years ago when he sought out our votes and give us an honest assessment of how he's doing. And all things considered, try to fair to some degree.

Flashback time:

February 8, 2003

Today, Iím declaring my candidacy for Mayor of the city of Wilkes-Barre.

Over the past year while Iíve been considering this decision, Iíve been asked by many people ó with all the problems that Wilkes-Barre has ó why would I want to be mayor?

As a member of City Council, including time as chairman, Iíve come to see first-hand that indeed Wilkes-Barre does have its share of problems.

But Wilkes-Barre also has enormous potential to be successful.

As a lifelong resident of the city, coming from a family long committed to making the city better, I feel the potential far outweighs the problems.

And, if Iím elected, developing the potential of Wilkes-Barre to overcome its problems will be my top priority as mayor.

As a businessman, I have a stake in Wilkes-Barre. When I graduated from Kingís College, I chose Wilkes-Barre. This is where I went to work and continue to work today. My family is here and we want a city that will cater to working families and enrich their lives.

The cornerstone of this effort shall be to attract high-tech, better paying jobs to the city. To do that we have to create an environment that will make employers want to come here.

They have to know the city is stable. That we can pay our way. That we have resources to improve basic services such as street repair and that we will provide a city that will embrace them.

We have to show that we can control overspending, that we can modernize and grow the downtown area, which will spread into our neighborhoods.

Job creation, economic growth, fighting crime and improving our quality of life top the list of things I want to do to develop the potential of our city.

I will put forward a plan for our city to bring this about. It will build on my involvement as a businessman and my leadership as a city councilman.

I will detail how we can eliminate our current problems and build a city by progress, not promises.

It will address not only the economic development of Wilkes-Barre, but also its financial integrity and city management.

This plan will show how we can improve police and fire protection, public works services and bring more people into the city through better residential housing, neighborhoods and parks.

To implement this plan I will appoint competent department heads and it will be their job to manage their department. Weíve had enough micromanagement. Iíll ultimately accept responsibility for the job that is done, but experienced administrators will do it, and they will do it well.

Currently, the city operates in a way as if the mayor and the council were adversaries. There should not be competition between the mayor and council ó there should be cooperation. Weíre on the same team and Iím going to count on them for help.

The department heads and the council, with the mayor, have to devise a way to control spending, hold the line on taxes and get Wilkes-Barre moving again. We need change to accomplish this.

Iíve tried to do some of this as a councilman. But being mayor is where this can be accomplished and I believe an energetic, conscientious mayor armed with a realistic plan can bring Wilkes-Barre back again.

On council, Iíve already sponsored legislation to enable council to get a handle on the cityís spending. Weíve forced the mayor to pay the cityís bills and not accumulate excessive debt. Weíve restrained the use of tax anticipation notes as some form of overdraft protection for the cityís checkbook. Iíve attacked the parking problem by gaining city ownership of the North Garage. And I believe the Blue Ribbon panel that I advocated has identified some of the cityís biggest financial problems and challenges on the abandoned Call Center and the failed Theatre Project.

Regarding the theatre, I see it as a keystone to our cityís recovery. I will continue the efforts Iíve spearheaded to build a theatre in Wilkes-Barre in keeping with whatís come to be known as the Leighton Plan.

As you can see, thereís much to be done. But I want to be mayor because I firmly believe we can do it.

Imposing fiscal discipline, modernizing our procedures, equipment and facilities and not getting caught up in things like seasonally decorating the city to mask the real challenges we face, I think can set the stage for Wilkes-Barreís comeback.

We have a great city and great people who live and work here. Now we need to make the city as great as its people are. As I said, this will be done by progress, not promises. And today we take the first step toward making that progress a reality.

Thank you.


Little ole me again. These were the most pressing issues on Tom Leighton's agenda as presented to us two years ago.


Tom Leighton is committed to running a fiscally sound city of Wilkes-Barre. He knows that many of the current problems the city faces are related to the financial mismanagement that has occurred. On City Council he has authored several ordinances designed to rectify the current situation. His efforts to create the Blue Ribbon panel of distinguished citizens to identify the major problems the city faces has been well-received in the media and financial circles. Heís led efforts to restrain the city from incurring additional debt that would waste the resources of our children in the future. Heís pushed for the cityís bills to be paid so as to maintain our standing in the bond and banking community and with the cityís vendors. Tom Leighton will review and analyze all of the recent financial problems that the city has had and will make the difficult decisions, based on professional advice, to ease the current financial burden of the city.


Look for Tom Leighton to provide our residents and visitors with police protection that they will feel safe with. Heíll increase police patrols in trouble areas and will continue with the patrols until the problems are driven from our city and the valley. The safe environment will allow working families to enjoy their homes throughout the year. Zero tolerance on drug dealing and criminal acts will be enforced. Heíll also upgrade equipment so police can deal with the bad element that has infiltrated parts of our city.


As Mayor, Tom Leighton will seek low interest loans for our downtown merchants and business owners to renovate and remodel the exterior and interior of their buildings and businesses. The first three blocks of South Main Street have architecturally historical, beautiful buildings that have been neglected due to the lack of business and foot traffic. These loans will trigger job creation. And attracting jobs will be a top priority of the Leighton administration. Tom Leighton will try to attract high-tech jobs that provide incomes that can support working families. He will especially take advantage of area colleges and high schools to foster education and training programs that put people to work.


Tom Leighton will assist home sellers by encouraging potential and qualified buyers to move into the city. Offering a safe and clean city will help this. We must highlight our neighborhood parks, Kirby and Nesbitt Parks and develop the River Commons.


We must provide the professional level of fire protection for our senior citizens and residents to insure their care and safety. Current fire and ambulance equipment will be maintained and upgraded. City Council has been doing this and Tom Leighton will push for it to continue.


Tom Leighton will appoint skilled and experienced department heads and allow them to direct their departments and make decisions based on their professional knowledge and experience. This will eliminate poor planning. They will submit project planning well in advance so that the city can move forward, not backward. Tom Leighton will then be able to make decisions based on the input and information provided to him.


So? How's he doing so far? You tell me.

Nice change of pace? Or not?

I'm ready for some football.