3-17-2005 Welcome to Wilkes-Barre International

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.--Edmund Burke

So what constitutes doing "a little?"

Showing up at a city council meeting and respectfully demanding a few answers to some legitimate questions from our elected top dogs? Grabbing a sexy Black & Decker thingamabob and spraying over some unsightly grafitti on a building near you? Recruiting a small, but elite army of volunteers and cleaning the park nearest to your half-double? Writing a letter to the editor of the local paper? Manning the tables at the local polling place? Firing off a check to the most responsible candidate in a dogfight of a local election? What's doing "a little?"

Devoting your energies to attacking the politico folks you hope to one day replace? Raising some well-publicized hell where, in all likelihood, none is really needed? Shameless self-aggrandizement? Calling yourself an activist while weighing your chances of winning an election until you finally declare yourself not an activist, but a candidate after all? By pretending that you're selflessly working for me, while orchestrating a name recognition campaign for your eventual benefit? Having both Lane Filler's and Heidi Ruckno's cell phone numbers memorized?

What's doing "a little?" Ragging incessantly on city council until they, as a group, burst into tears and sprint to the middle of the nearest bridge? In the grand scheme of things, would reducing the size of council by two members this year rather than two years from now amount to doing "a little?" You can bet yer borderline fat ass it does. And when stacked directly up against a whopping $35 million budget, "getting" council amounts to little more than instituting a paper clip recycling program at city hall. This is all much to do about nothing. Er, a little. Very little.

Therein lies the most glaring problem with the completely useless Wilkes-Barre Taxpayer Association: They are short on meaningful ideas, but long on meaningless vendettas.

From the latest edition of The Times Leader:

Posted on Thu, Mar. 17, 2005

Group: Get rid of W-B council seats now

In 2001, voters had approved a referendum to cut the number of members from seven to five.

By KRIS WERNOWSKY kwernowsky@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE – Despite the city’s assurance to drop two city council seats in 2007, one community organization says it needs to happen sooner.

The Wilkes-Barre Area Taxpayers Association voted Wednesday to continue to press the city council to have a special election this year to eliminate two seats on the council.

Voters approved a referendum in 2001 to cut the number of people on the city council from seven at-large members to five members elected by district. Four years later, the council still has its seven members.

City Assistant Attorney Bill Vinsko said recently there is no need to have a special election, and the two seats could be gone after the 2007 election.

Association President Christine Katsock said she’ll meet with the organization’s new attorney Friday in an attempt to encourage the Luzerne County Election Board to settle the issue quickly.

“We feel not only the city council, but the board of elections as well, is ignoring something with the same weight as something handed down by the legislature,” she said.

Jamie Lake, a member of the taxpayer’s association, said Wednesday he’s furious with the council for what he called stalling until the 2007 municipal election.

“I’m livid at the arrogance of these people,” Lake said. “Two people are there illegally as far as I’m concerned.”

Representatives of the election board have said they would turn to a judge if needed to force the city to have the election this year.

The city fought the implementation of the referendum in court, but a Commonwealth Court ruling in January 2004 requires the city to make the change.

Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban, who sits on the board of elections, recently lambasted Vinsko by citing a similar case in Pittsburgh. Urban says the election should not wait until 2007.

“The currant office holders are not longer entitled to their jobs,” he said. “Just as was ruled in Pittsburgh, they have no statutory right to jobs that have been eliminated.”

Ambrose Meletski, also a member of the taxpayer’s association, said by stalling the redistricting and the election, the city is costing taxpayers money by bankrolling two city council members voters decided in 2001 they didn’t need.

“You can accomplish the same with five as you can with seven or 15 and the courts have ruled that the city council should complete the districting,” he said. “Victory is at hand, now is not the time to compromise.”

You know, I actually hope these phonies pull this needless sh*t off. Okay, you tagged council's collective ass. Now what? What's next for the laughable, but persistent gadflies biting on the ass of Wilkes-Barre's government? Well...um...the mayor is paid too much. Light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks! You can stick it to him next. And then the mayor who finally brought us some modicum of progress after a dreadful thirty-year drought, while painstakingly dotting all of his numerous "I"s and crossing all of his weighty "T"s, might just decide being an abuse magnet for the shameless self promoters is not worth the salary it pays? Wouldn't that beat all?

The Wilkes-Barre Taxpayer Association shoots first and considers the long-term ramifications of their dimwitted actions second. They can yammer on and on about how our present city council members didn't do enough to lasso an out of control mayor all they want. But what they fail to realize, or are unwilling to admit, is that this present crop of "greedy" council folk are most likely a marked improvement over the dozens of other council folks that served before them and listlessly presided over this troubled city while it sank further, and further, and further into the abyss.

But arguing with these all-knowing, (as if) pretend activists with the unstated agenda is akin to trying to disagree with Kevin Lynn without being given an unceremonious "See ya!" right before your phone goes dead. Just when Wilkes-Barre is finally showing some faint signs of life heretofore unimagined, these mostly clueless folks have to keep tinkering with things they know very little about. They can float all the referendum questions they want. And they can clamor for support from the legions of negative ninnies living amongst us, but if any of these folks were put in charge of the entire city, we'd have a sucicidal ex-activist on our hands right quick. Or, at the very least, another Tom McGroarty.

Association President Christine Katsock is going to meet with the organization's new attorney? Wow! I can't wait to read of the utter brillance that might amount to. Wonderful. That could only serve to further embolden the amateurish power broker wannabes that read something on the internet that proved to be very informative about governance by dummies.

They can play their little games, and hound the reporters until they too seek the middle of a local bridge. At this important juncture in this city's history, I'll stick with the folks with the legislative experience while the city faces probably the most important 24 months in it's entire history. Seven council folks? Five council folks? Are we f**king serious? It'a not as if the city isn't facing a ton of much more pressing issues.

What's that old bit? If assholes could fly this place would be an airport?

Welcome to Wilkes-Barre International.

Somebody sent me this link a few days back, but I forgot to mention it here. The Times Leader has already linked to it. This is what I'm thinking. If the Tool Belt Dudes from Sordoni Construction must position a web cam from on high, I'm thinking we cruise on down there after dark and spray paint something indecent...no, something so completely offensive, even Kevin Lynn himself would exclaim "Oh my God!" "live" on the radio. And then he'd stick a bar of Irish Spring in his mouth. At the very least, we could "moon" the web cam or something. I don't know. Send along your ideas.

Anyway, this web cam thingie is pretty cool. "Live" on the internet, Wilkes-Barre crawls back out of the burning pits one inch at a time.

Sordoni Construction Cam

Going up fast

The Chamber of Golf Pros Re-Visited

I remember when I had no use at all for the local version of the Chamber of Commerce. I used to refer to that outfit on these pages as "The Chamber of Golf Pros." That hacking on my part was borne of frustration as Wilkes-Barre's stock seemed to be spiraling lower than ever imagined possible. And a certain ex-mayor of ours was not quite yet running roughshod over seemingly everyone and everything. Back then, as Wilkes-Barre's situation seemed to worsen right before my eyes, the Chamber folks would be smiling back at me from the pages of our local papers after having made some nifty announcement about good things happening to a community right next door to ours. And I kept looking around at what little this city had left and thought to myself, so what about us? What about Wilkes-Barre? I don't give a flying leap about how many jobs and businesses came to Hazleton or Dorrance Township. When would Wilkes-Barre get some good news from the Chamber folks? It was about that time that it suddenly became very apparent to me that the only thing holding Wilkes-Barre back was the guy claiming to be pushing it forward: our former mayor. Okay, I thought-no more golf pro jokes. Well, that is, until we dumped our mayor and gave these Chamber folks a chance to put up or shut up.

I'm not sure how this urban legend of ours grew it's legs, but I've heard it repeated many times that the Chamber people were attracting businesses to the region by telling them us hayseeds here at Inbred Corners would work for wages that even the illegals in this country would reject. And I've heard many of the unwashed types accuse Steve Barrouk of this practice by name. And I also heard common folks laugh out loud (LOL) at the mere mention of Todd Vonderheid's name when he toiled away in the Pomeroy's building. Barrouk? Vonderheid? The Chamber? Unless you happened to be talking to a local businessman, or a local politician, it was really kind of difficult to solicit very many flattering comments about those folks down on the Square.

Never been no good jobs, ain't no good jobs now and there ain't ever gonna be no good jobs with those robber baron wannabes sellin' us short.

So, Vonderheid sought and won a job as the people's newest punching bag over at the county courthouse and he was summarily replaced at the Chamber. To this very day, I've never heard anyone disparage his replacement. We gotta do something about that. It just ain't right that anyone should escape the rath of the SAYSO idiots, especially someone at the big commerce concern. Although, I have heard some rumors about him being assaulted with a cream pie. Got me. I don't know anything about that.

So, the hoi polloi no longer hates Todd for being a member of the chamber. These days, they've got a whole other reason to hate him. And Larry Newman seems to be above criticism out here on the mean and bumpy streets. That leaves only Barrouk. He still works there, he makes a decent buck and if that's not bad enough-he resides in that much more upscale neighborhood so many of the serfs want to see used for above ground nuclear testing. Or was it a locust storm of biblical proportions? I can't recall. No matter. If we really must make the movers and shakers of Wilkes-Barre suffer, see to it that my son moves into that neighborhood. That'll fix those evil rich pricks right good. Sorry. Back to Mr. Barrouk. Throw in the fact that he never did get a 9 million square-foot Saturn plant built anywhere near the Square, and you can see why his glossy just might adourn most of the cheaper dart boards here in NEPA.

I reside in an area where too many hammerheads scoff at owning a computer. And they didn't see the need for any secondary education. And they'd rather go fishing than read anything deeper than The Sporting News. But...it's the goll danged Chamber's fault that they can't earn $70,000 for something as mindless as piling things on top of one another in a dark corner somewhere. Don't bother arguing with them. They can't afford a glitzy summer home on the oceanfront and it's Barrouk's fault.

Are you computer literate? Can you legally operate a large commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds? Have you any human resourses experience? Can you prepare a spinach quiche? Blushing cauliflower, perhaps? Are you familiar with up-to-the-minute computerized office systems? No? But you can push a medium-sized box with your forehead?

It might be the right time to spread mayonaise and petroleum jelly all over your naked bodies, turn your gazes skyward and do the giant locust dance with depraved abandon until the very last of the chamber vermin are eradicated from this sacred place. Lemme know. I wanna get some pics.

Or as Fred recently said: Instead of working, I’m going to cultivate a talent for quietly disliking a great many people and things.

I'm not saying we should be taking freshly baked cannabis cookies down to the Pomeroy's tower every third Tuesday. And I'm certainly not suggesting that we should be eager to kiss any of them on the mouth. I'm not even going to imply that those folks might be the best thing since the advent of chopped onion packets. But I absolutely reject the ridiculous notion that had to be hatched at a local trailer park that Steve Barrouk, or anyone else in this area, is promoting our local work force as being stupid, ugly, ignorant and willing to toil away for a simple pat on the head and a few spare crumbs from somebody's biscuit. No matter how much golf he might play, that's just bunk.

What the Chamber folks have needed all along to attract the very best jobs that America herself had to offer was viable, forward thinking, fiscally responsible communities with more to offer than a key to the city and a vacant lot next to a long-since crumbling eyesore.

And if we're brutally honest with ourselves, we know that all of our larger cities in this county have seen much, much better days until just recently (in some cases, not all). If I'm a Bill Gates, what exactly would get me excited about moving some division of my empire to any of these far-flung, run-down cities mired in debt and sporting more broken window panes than intact ones? We can build shiny arenas, new highways, and new highway exits, but if our cities have nothing at all to offer, all of the federal and state pork spent here eventually goes down the drain. We need more than infrastructure improvements and a few well-placed attractions. What we need is responsible leadership from those local folks seeking our votes. We need strong mayors.

Hazleton has made some great strides of late. Pittston has done the same. And Wilkes-Barre is about to do the same. And what do these three cities have in common these days? Mayors that are much more interested in brick and mortar progress than that of their recent predeccessors. The proof is in the pudding. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, Michael Lombardo of Pittston and Tom Leighton are, in my mind, a cut above any of the mayors that preceeded them during my mostly troubled existance.

And now we have this:

The Citizens Voice

Mayor Lombardo gets new post with chamber

By Joe Sylvester, Staff Writer 03/15/2005

He is leaving his job with Pittston Area in four to six weeks

Pittston Mayor Michael A. Lombardo said the part he loves most about that office is the economic development, not the politics.

So he expects to enjoy his new job even more.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry announced Monday it has hired Lombardo as its senior vice president/chief operating officer, a newly created position. In that job, the number-two position in the organization under President/CEO Stephen M. Barrouk, Lombardo will oversee strategic planning and coordinate efforts to create jobs and business opportunities in the area, the organization said.

"We really conducted a national search," Barrouk said. "We probably considered well over 20 (candidates). We interviewed about a dozen."

Lombardo, who is director of special education, school psychologist and acting high school vice principal in the Pittston Area School District, said he considered what he wanted to do for the rest of his working career in weighing the chamber offer.

"I know I really, really love community development and economic development," said Lombardo, who turns 41 next month. "I've worked in the school system for 19 years. To retire, I need 16 more."

He said he spoke with Superintendent Frank Serino on Monday about handing in his resignation.

Lombardo said he would step down from his school positions in four to six weeks, but he would serve the rest of his term as mayor. Lombardo, in the last year of his second four-year term, announced last week he would not run for a third term this year.

"Running for office is not on the radar screen," he said. "All the rumors out there are not going to happen."

Rumors had Lombardo planning runs next year for state Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives.

Barrouk said the chamber created the position about six months ago and had been looking for the right person since then.

In addition to a series of interviews, candidates underwent psychological testing, part written, part interview, to determine their personality, organization and leadership styles, Lombardo said.

"We really took this seriously because this is an important position and an important organization to help move this community," Barrouk said.

He said the chamber was drawn to Lombardo's experience in various jobs helping the community in several different ways.

"He's compassionate, bright, he fits right into our thinking," the president said. "He's really a dynamic young man."

Barrouk would not reveal Lombardo's salary.

"We don't disclose that," he said.

Lombardo is paid about $80,000 a year for two of his school district positions. He receives no extra pay for the acting vice principal job, which was temporary. He receives $3,000 a year as mayor.

Now, you may still be leaning towards siccing the locusts on Barrouk, but I think he went and plucked himself a gem from the vast coal bin with this hire. Or as Barrouk himself put it: He's really a dynamic young man."

I remember what Pittston used to look like. And I know what it looks like now. And here's a guy, a soon-to-be former mayor of a local city, who was on the front lines of the revitalization wars, and I think he has much to offer the area, rather than just one small part of it. And I was pleased to learn that he has chosen to stay here and fight to advance our communtiy rather than playing partisan politics at some higher level on the political food chain.

Everybody says over and over again that we need to keep our best and brightest right here if this area is ever going to cast off it's hard to shake coal cracker image. And by hiring Mayor Lombardo, I think Steve Barrouk just kept one of our best and brightest right here for the foreseeable future. Love 'im or hate 'im, Barrouk done good. Now admit it.

And being a psychologist and all, maybe Lombardo can even help me? Ya think?

Or is that asking too much of any man?

From today's SAYSO idiocy:

Scranton had Mayor McCheese; Pittston still has and will have Mayor McGoof. Mike Lombardo just said in his exit interviews with the newspapers that he’s looking for a new career with the state or economic development, a la chamber. He just took a promotion up at Pittston Area. He’s on the Pittston Area payroll, just got promoted, made a commitment to the school board, and now he wants to bail out on them. Oh, this Lombardo. And the other thing, answer your phone calls if you’re going to be in economic development. You don’t return calls to nobody.

Right on cue: negativity.

Scranton had McCheese??? What the f**k are they putting in the meatballs up there in Pittston? Geez! It sure looked like oregano.

How dumb do you think most of your readers are? A family newspaper front page is Mayor Lombardo will not seek re-election as Pittston mayor. Who gives a rat’s rear end? It’s already decided Kanjorski runs for Congress, is re-elected, resigns and Rendell appoints Lombardo. Why do you think we are getting all this money? There’s still hope. The Senate must approve and we Republicans control.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Boy, you seem to have it figured out. Remind us with an ‘I told you so’ if this actually happens.

I'd bet somebody would like to take that idiocy back right about now. Oh, well. Just another day at the Times Leader where lunatics posing as political pundits can get their idiocy published without as much as mentioning their credentials. Not to mention their names.


I have to bid you nite, nite. I'm beat and I'm pissed after ripping yet another new pair of Dickies this afternoon. But before I go, I wanna show you my latest creation.


Coming to the rear window of my personal vehicle soon.

I'm totally mucked-up, no?