3-8-2005 Chief Justice Griffith?

I believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year should not live in poverty in the richest country in the world.--Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, arguing for the Democratic proposal to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over the next 26 months.

Maybe we should stop lowering the financial bar by which folks are determined to be living below the poverty line. Most of the folks living below the poverty line in this country have more than one motor vehicle, countless Cds and DVDs, "Starter" brand sporting apparel, air conditioners, cell phones, bulging waist lines (they're certainly not going hungry by any stretch) and the very best appliances that Rent-A-Center has to offer for twice their original retail value. If that's poverty, the folks in Somalia will gladly take it. Where should they go to sign up?

Try this. Drive through a federally-subsidized public housing complex and try counting the endless parade of DirectTV satellite dishes. It's exhausting and takes a bit of concentration. Don't blink or you'll miss a half dozen. The folks that don't have one are the truly needy souls.

I don't have a problem with anyone earning a decent wage. But I made the mistake of dialing up Nancy & Kev's act on WILK this morning while they were debating with their callers the recent minimum wage vote in the senate. The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for almost a decade. Is it too low? Yeah, it is. Should it be raised significantly? No. Not at all. Remember kiddies, I toiled away in the restaurant industry starting at the age of 14 years-old and toughed it out until damn near my 30th birthday. I say toughed it out 'cause it's a tough business to manage.

Nancy, Kevin and their callers are all entitled to their opinions, but I'm here to tell you that nobody earns the minimum wage for any length of time. This gibberish about not being able to raise a family while working for the minimum wage is way out there in La-la land. In actuality, very, very few businesses even hire folks at $5.15 an hour anymore. How the hell can they when even McDonald's and Burger King are hiring people at $6.00 an hour or higher?

My son-in-law manages a full-service restaurant in Pottsville, PA. I called him today and I had two questions waiting for him. "How many employees do you have?" And "How many of them are working for minimum wage?" The answers are as follows: He has 62 employees and not one of them are working for minimum wage. Not one. That's what I thought.

Some goober was telling Nancy & Kev that there should be a federal law setting a "living wage" of $10.00 an hour. Here's a guy who knows as much about running a business as I know about hemming a dress. If I need to hire some 16 year-old high school kid to wash pots and pans on Saturday and Sunday afternoons only, why in the hell would I pay him $10.00 an hour? For what? His massive skills? His experience? His computer skills? If we adopted some sort of insane and excessively liberal-minded "living wage," a trip to the local breakfast buffet with the wife and kids on Sunday morning might top out around $200. I'm not mucking about here. We're talking expensive here, kiddies. A Big Mac? Ya got me. $7.00, perhaps? And why is it again that we should be considering this "living wage" muckity muck? So that some bleeding heart can feel good about himself, while some inexperienced kids, or some dimwits paying for their poor life choices with skills approaching those of a chimpanzee can earn well more than they're worth?

There's two types of people earning minimum wage: Teenagers...and complete losers. But alas, every day presents yet another opportunity to create yet another safety net for yet another group of "victims." It's called socialism folks, and it's failed wherever it's been tried.

It gives one an idea of where this country is headed.

Ah, jeez. Just when we thought somebody had taken a hint and extinguished a few pilot lights, I awoke to find another letter to the editors of the Voice from the guy purported to be auditing the mayor's 2003 inaugural ball. I wonder when he'll finally release the much-awaited findings of his less than forensic audit. Soon, I hope.

Wilkes-Barre's landlord rules violate the Federal Privacy Act



A recent ordinance passed by Wilkes-Barre City council requires all landlords and tenants to be registered with the city's Office of Code Enforcement and that landlords supply the city with the names and addresses of their tenants.

The Federal Privacy Act says that personal information cannot and should not be released by anyone who has access to that information without specific approval in writing to do so.

If landlords do supply the city the names and addresses of their tenants without permission to do so, it appears that such action would be in violation of federal law and the privacy of their tenants. Therefore, verification and clarification of the legality of this ordinance, in light of the Federal Privacy Act, should be afforded the citizens of Wilkes-Barre, especially landlords and tenants, before any personal data is sought or related fines imposed by the city's code enforcement office.

Landlords and tenants in the City of Wilkes-Barre should pay close attention to these matters and communicate with each other in regard to any personal information to be or not to be supplied. As for "not to be supplied," it appears that tenants are well within their rights to instruct (preferably in writing) their landlords not to disclose any personal information to the city. If landlords were to disregard such requests, it also appears that they could be held liable by way of federal law and/or by their tenants for such action.

Walter Griffith Jr.

Federal Privacy Act? What? Now he's a constitutional law scholar? Maybe he'd be kind enough to tutor our city solicitors when he's not so busy auditing everything the city spends and coming to the wrong totals as he so often does. Mistakes, misrepresentations...ah, why fret about it? Self-appointed taxpayer activists don't have to be accurate. They just have to be persistent to get their names in the newspapers. And persistent he is.

If the elected folks decreed the city's official flower to be the rose, this guy would run screaming foul to the press and fire off a fax or two to the state demanding an investigation. If our mayor looked skyward and said, "What a beautiful blue sky," Walter would be barely able to control himself as he shouted "Aqua! It's aqua!" to the Times Leader reporter on the other end of his cell phone call. The guy is a contrary prick solely for the purposes of his tiresome and loathesome self-aggrandizement tour waged on the pages of our newspapers. He adds nothing substitive to the debate. And he brings nothing positive to the debate. He is a walking, talking political liability to himself. And he's too blinded by his non-stop ranting and raging against the local "machine" to even see it.

But...he is funny, i.e., pathetic as all hell. He cracks me up. He's somewhat entertaining. Following his antics is akin to watching The Three Stooges sans the talent part. And believe it or not, somebody other than his immediate relatives voted for him. Yikes!

Forget the comedy. Now we're talking horror.

Master Chemical. Hmmm. Did you know that this outfit loaded with big meanies committed to generating profits receives deliveries from big, big, big trucks. Big trucks are bad. Sometimes the big trucks get in the way of the local yokels for a few minutes at a time. Sometimes the local yokels coerce council folks into stupidly harrasing the bad companies with the big trucks. And sometimes those very same council folks confuse the sh*t out of the cops by telling them to crack down on the big meanies and the big trucks without really cracking down at all. Sometimes, attracting future votes is more important than any other consideration. And then other municipalities begin to court the bad companies, the big bad trucks and the not so bad taxes that typically come with them.

Big meanies bad. Big trucks bad. Both go bye-bye. Wilkes-Barre empty. Neighbors happy and docile once again. Stupidity on parade courtesy of the NIMBY neighbors.

Boo! Hiss!

You know, in a smallish city such as ours, having two daily newspapers is a luxury that is pretty much unheard of these days. There are many, many cities that would dwarf this pimple on the map in comparison that do not have two daily newspapers anymore. And yet, I still find myself yearning for a copy of the Sunday Independant on occasion. We all know how and why the Citizen's Voice came to exist, and that in itself was a really unique situation probably worthy of a movie on the Lifetime cable channel. But, the big strike aside, it's wild that Wilkes-Barre could be home to two newspapers with circulations as big as they have.

Although, after following the always interesting banter on the "What happened to Walzer?" forum page put up by somebody or other from the Times Leader, it's obvious that many of the folks that work at the Leader see the Leader as being in big, big trouble. Many have even speculated about the Leader either being sold in the not so distant future, or simply having a very short lifespan in general. While I'll admit to being very, very disappointed with the overall quality of the Times Leader of late, the last thing I want to see is the Leader going belly-up, or being absorbed by the Times-Shamrock group.

I used to get mildly annoyed with the Voice's constant "That Other Paper" sniping at the Leader, but I've come to enjoy the incessant rivalry between the two papers. Lately though, the suddenly vapid Times Leader should start worrying more about it's own content (or lack thereof) than anything the Voice might be doing. The columnists bite, the political commentary is putrid, Tom Bigler leaves me feeling embarrassed for him, and the stories dealing with city news are quite often dominated by the embittered political losers, the terminally disaffected, the self-appointed media whore activists and the three members of the Wilkes-Barre Taxpayer Association, while the elected folks comments in defense of their decisions are too often threadbare at best. Oh, and I have to endure Casey Jones' descriptive tales of his basement landfill. (?) Let's not get into the FANFARE or SAYSO debris that clearly belongs in Casey's basement.

Assuming there's any credible management left after the unexpected and traumatic Walzer tsunami, they need to take a full step backwards and examine how the Times Leader perceives itself versus how very many of us out here in Crudland currently perceive it. If things don't improve, the Times Leader just might become proof positive that the limp-wristed tree-huggers have a valid point or two. Whatever. Ain't my ox being gored, but if they can't get their sh*t wired, we might be like the rest of the country, i.e., down to only one daily newspaper.

Since being acquired by the newspaper folks from Scranton, the Citizen's Voice hasn't changed much and I don't really have too much of a problem with the content other than the obvious leftist slant to the stories and editorials the Voice chooses to re-print from other sources. Maureen Dowd? I usually cringe when I read her abject bitterness on parade. She frickin' scares me. She ought to give sex a try once. Something. I dunno.

I know I shouldn't, but I really look forward to Mike McGlynn's Dowd-like columns. A sixty-pound meteor crashed into a Windstar in remote Utah killing a small child? Wow-freaking-wee!!! I can't friggin' wait to read how Mike McGlynn will cleverly assign the blame to one George W. Bush!!! Steroids are in very short supply in the Bronx just as spring training is getting underway? Gooooo Mikey!!! Go get those goll derned Goose-stepping neocons!!! Anise oil is up to $3.00 a quarter-gram? Get to the bottom of it, Mikey. It's evil Bush and "Big Extracts" again, screwing alike the intelligent, progressive blue state transexuals, and those dumb ass red staters with the steel plates in their heads. Mikey, if it works for you then, by all means, (rational or not) go with it. After eighteen years, my cat upped and died. I'm thinking that Rumsfeld and Halliburton are behind his death, but a novice such as myself could never connect such stealthy dots. Looks like a job for Super Mike.

I do like James Conmy's handling of so many of the stories dealing with the city and city politics. Dittos on Heidi Ruckno's work. They usually write informative stories that deal with complex issues in a way that even us common dorks can somewhat follow. Conversely, the Leader folks usually cover the basics and then chase the Griffith's, the Katsock's, the Stets', the Argenta's and the Sumner's of the world in search of the predictably negative, if not bombastic and factually inept quote. But I digress. Heyna?

Anywhooey, I like having two daily newspapers banging away on the local scene, and I hope to see them slogging away for a long time to come. We shall see.

But there is another paper to be read on a daily basis provided that you can deal with it's being based in Scranton and the fact that it deals mostly with stories and issues that do not emanate from Luzerne County. Whatever. In my special sanctuary, there's no such thing as too much information to the inquisitive mind.

From the Scranton Times Tribune:

Charges dropped against Argenta

SCRANTON -- Indecent assault charges against Virgil Argenta Jr. were dropped Wednesday in Central Court after his alleged victim agreed to accept $5,000 from him for "emotional distress."

Mr. Argenta, 44, of Wilkes-Barre, had been charged by Scranton police with indecent assault, simple assault and harassment.

But the woman signed an affidavit Wednesday saying she didn't want the case pursued, so it was dismissed.

Mr. Argenta was accused of holding the woman against a wall and groping her sexually in her Scranton apartment on Jan. 19.

I was not surprised in the least to find that the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department felt compelled to respond to Linda Stets' utterly ridiculous and laughable letter to the editors at the Voice. If indisputable facts were edible, this lady would have us all looking like Ethiopians faster than mini-commish Steve Urban can distort the truth in exchange for some Page 1 coverage.

W-B firefighters aren't to blame for problems with fire stations


If something breaks, we do what we can to fix it.


By request of the Wilkes-Barre City firefighters, I am writing in response to a letter to the editor by Linda Stets and the special report on Wilkes-Barre City's fire stations published Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 in The Citizens' Voice.

First, we would like to respond to Ms. Stets' accusation that the firefighters did not take appropriate actions over the years to keep the fire stations in good condition. The fire houses are inspected daily and noted accordingly. All deficiencies in the fire houses - be it apparatus or the structure itself - are reported to the chief's office and up the chain of command. Minor problems are repaired immediately if the materials are on hand. Throughout the years, our members have not only performed maintenance on smaller problems like those they would encounter at their own houses, but have also repaired boilers, air conditioning units and other big-ticket items. Serious problems, like deteriorating roofs, are too large to fix in-house, so professionals must be called in. Major fire apparatus maintenance has to be performed by qualified mechanics; we have no say as to when and where they will be in to repair the problems. We do the best we can with what we are given.

Secondly, the photographs of structural deficiencies in North Station on Scott Street and at East Station on Northampton Street are misleading. The hole in the roof at North Station was not in the main structure of the building, but of an attached storage garage that houses a snow blower and a lawn mower. Contrary to what Ms. Stets suggested, there should be no concern about using North Station as a polling place in the spring. If anyone is truly concerned, they should come and tour the building. The pictures of East Station were taken on the second floor, and that area has been off limits for almost 30 years.

The remaining firehouses are like our second homes. Any person with common sense would not live in a building that is falling down around them without trying to do something about it. If something breaks, we do what we can to fix it. If we cannot, it is reported.

We are proud to serve the taxpayers of Wilkes-Barre, and we are proud to say that all of our members are residents of the city.

Thomas Makar, president International Association of Fire Fighters Local 104

Go Dude! Although, I think you left out the part where the firemen were doing the maintenance on their own fire trucks way back when our former king, His Majesty McGroarty was hiding out at his DPW command bunker for an entire year.

We are proud to serve the taxpayers of Wilkes-Barre, and we are proud to say that all of our members are residents of the city.

And it shows in any number of ways.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark,

Hope all is well in the big W-B.

I was talking to an old roommate of mine this morning, and he told me that a few houses on Myers Court were torn down and/or condemned. Is this true?

Let me know if you know the answer, as I would love to find out what happened to 27 Myers...the old party house.

Be good, and take care.

-Jersey Dude

Dude! Long time no effing see. Ya got me as to the latest on beer bottle row. As you probably know, I got K.O.ed in a traffic accident on October 1st, and the doctor forbade me from riding the dependable Rock Stomper for a few months. But...all of that fargin' bullspit is about ready to come to an end.

I'll be out there peddling away on those mean streets soon enough and I'll send me a Stomper probe into the former forbidden zone. First it was drinking and parking issues. Then it was the scumball out-of-state vampires and their scumball drug dealing. But the Wilkes-Barre detectives got their dead asses after busting down the front door, didn't they? Can you say "digress?"

Dude, I will pop on by there soon and post some pics of yer former homestead. Well, yer former something.

Gage Andrew

Gage Andrew? The next editor-in-chief of Wilkes-Barre Online? Picture that sh*t.

Former Wilkes-Barre Mayor, Tony Thomas Jr., today accused Luzerne County Majority Commissioner Greg Barrouk of...

Hey, man. Ya never know.

Nancy Kman of WILK fame has twice told her listeners that she "has it on good authority" that the Planter's Peanuts Building is going to be demolished now that it's been sold to a private developer. I'm told that only a section of the building is due to come down, but plans do change now and then. Stay tuned on that.

At the very, very least, something rather significant and highly visible needs to remain in place at that site to commemorate the long-time home of Planter's Peanuts. I'm not overly concerned about it. Those historical commission folks are like flies on homeless dung whenever a wrecking ball is even thunk about.

If you tried to rip down you're friggin' weather beaten dog coop, those historical goobers would be raining down on your ass in a big way. The Planter's Peanuts building oughta get 'em coming down like cats and dogs.

It'll be alright.

Gotsta go.