3-20-2005 The "Unfortunates"

There was yet another ugly incident in the Heights during the overnight hours last night.

Before you go on, please be mindful of the fact that I not only spent the majority of my teen years surviving on a welfare check, I also spent those very same years in a low-income housing project. Albeit, a kinda nice one.

From what I could gather from Scanner Land, a mid to late-twenties chickie residing on Midland Court was stabbed multible times after a forced entry by some guy purported to be an ex-something or other of hers. If that isn't fun enough, he went on the lam with the lady's five kids, four of which he had no biological connection to.

Our police force was tied up for quite a while. So was a medic unit. A detective obviously had his beauty sleep cut short. Our hose dudes were out and about trying to guide Life Flight 3 to a smooth, safe landing at the Jewelcor office building. The State Police was sent a BOLO alert for a fleeing Cadillac. An Amber Alert was mentioned as being needed with five kids being snatched from their adobe in the wee hours of the night. Two "black-and-whites" were dispatched to Sherman Hills to search for the black, or possibly blue Caddy. And while all of this was going on, the police calls stacked up while the LT in charge of the scene grappled with a developing situation.

The unfortunate chickie ended up at Scranton's CMC, which means she's not in the bestest of conditions. This morning, WBRE's site claimed that she is in serious condition. I've been doing NASCAR and NCAA B-ball all day long, and have not heard one iota of anything from any local news sources at all. It doesn't matter. I probably know more than I'm supposed to anyway. This much I do know.

This may come off as painting with too broad of a brush, but I'm no painter anyway. There was a time when the folks in the public housing units were vilified as being a "safety net" drain on our wallets and the sad fact remains, that's exactly what they were and still are to this day. These days, the productive folks don't seem to be near as outraged about having to support the folks that can't, or won't support themselves. After decades of being a welfare state, it's just a fact of life these days that your paycheck can't be yours alone. Or as the oft-dreaded Rush Limbaugh once said, (paraphrasing here) welfare keeps the crime rate down. His point being we either offer them some semblence of subsistence since they can't, or won't provide for themselves; or they'll steal from us, rob us and possibly even worse.

But it seems to me that we're being bled to death by these people as of late. First, the taxes I pay keep those folks in Nikes and Starter jackets, let alone well-fed, housed and medicated. Say nothing of their exspensive excesses provided by those barely legal bloodsuckers at Rent-A-Center.

Secondly, low-income housing units are little more than criminal magnets these days. Everybody knows it, but are usually reluctant to say it for fear of being labeled a racist by some politically correct girlie man, or manly girl. If you read any of the studies done that crunched the national Uniform Crime Statistics for the past decade or so, you already know that low-income housing units have become the criminals hang-out of choice. And if you happen to reside within a half-click of one, you've probably been vandalized, stolen from, or robbed in the first person.

And third, while handing these folks a taxpayer-subsidized paycheck has obviously not resulted in the desired result, i.e., having them appreciate what they've been given and respecting our property and well-being; now they are literally devouring our emergency services at an alarming rate with their criminal shenanigans. When we chumps, the productive, law-abiding taxpayers, have to wait longer than should be normally expected for a police car, or a medic unit only because the gun-toting folks so willing to milk the safety net system decided to play shoot out again, it be may time that we rethink this entire network of taxpayer-subsidized goodies for the multitudes of lawless idiots.

We have to pay their way. We have to hope that they don't grab our grandma's purse. And we can't get a cop when we need one after they decide to take someone else's life.

Other than that, I have no beef with the "unfortunates" living and killing among us.

Sez me.

How utterly predictable. On the second anniversary of the launching of a war, the sixties were joyously re-lived on Public Square by not quite enough people to fill a '67 Volkswagon Beetle.

I would have loved to have been there, but some of us do have to WORK! Some of us do have JOBS! Some of us actually do have constructive things to do rather than pretending that we're making a f**king incremental DIFFERENCE!

I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony...

From The Citizen's Voice:

War anniversary prompts protest

By Tom Venesky, Staff Writer 03/20/2005

More than 20 protesters gathered on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday to mark the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.

Saturday's protest was one of 725 held in cities in all 50 states calling for troop withdrawals to end a war the protesters say was a mistake.

The Wilkes-Barre event was organized by the Peace Center and the Luzerne County Green Party.

"The majority of the people in this country want our troops back, and Iraq wants them out," said Robert Griffin, a steering committee member of the Peace Center. "These events are being held to create that momentum and political will to show there's continued support for getting our troops out."

The protesters marched around the square carrying signs and rolling a metal barrel with the word "oil" painted on the side.

An estimated 100,000 Iraqis and more than 1,500 U.S. troops have been killed since the war began, according to Griffin.

He said the war lacked a legitimate reason for occurring and there is no legitimate reason for staying.

"The reasons for being there kept changing and it's hard to know why we're there," Griffin said. "It's time to let the Iraqis control their own destiny. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home and out of harm's way."

Carl Romanelli Jr., co-chairman of the Luzerne County Green Party, said the war has been a drain on the economy and costly in the amount of lives lost.

He questioned the motives for the war and said the government should do more to reduce the country's reliance on petroleum, such promoting alternative energy.

"This war isn't about ideals or liberation, it's about money," Romanelli said. "We have a responsibility to our young men and women in the military to not put them in harm's way for illegal reasons. I hope people demand our troops come home and our politics change."

Mary Vollero, Bellefonte, joined the protest after participating in a prayer service at Kings College for fallen soldiers.

Vollero's charcoal portraits of soldiers killed in Iraq is on display at the college.

"I saw pictures of soldiers who died and one of them resembled my son, and that's what inspired me to start sketching the portraits," she said.

Griffin said the U.S. presence in Iraq has increased the risk of a terrorist attack.

"By staying there, we're a source of instability and a high risk of terrorism," Griffin said. "President Bush hasn't given a timetable to get out, and we need to have a sense of closure."

From The Times Leader:

Posted on Sun, Mar. 20, 2005

Protesters few but persistent

The group demonstrates on Public Square against the war in Iraq, marking the second anniversary.

By JON FOX jfox@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE – There weren’t any protest chants Saturday, just the subtle rumbling of a man rolling an empty 55-gallon drum around Public Square.

Carl Romanelli, co-chairman of the Luzerne County Green Party, was leading a group of about 15 protesters in a circle as they marked the two-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

Some held homemade signs in the air, one man walked a bike with crushed beer cans in a basket attached to the rear wheel, and another man walked his small dog along with the group.

It was a modest and quiet manifestation of disapproval that lasted for an hour between noon and 1 p.m. The local protest was one of many held nationwide Saturday.

“We’re the strongest and most powerful nation on earth, and if we lead with the things that make us truly great and enacted policies that reflected that, we would have no need for war,” said Romanelli, 46, of Wilkes-Barre. “I think war represents an absence of policy.”

Oil, he said, was the real motivation for the war, a belief symbolized by the empty drum. The word “oil” had been spray painted on it in white.

Melanie Finnegan, 29, carried a placard with the slogan “End the War Now.” She and her parents, with their dog, Taffy, made the trek from Allentown after her father caught word of the demonstration on a Web site.

“This war, both the human cost in Iraq and financially, has been devastating,” said, John Finnegan, 56.

At least 1,519 members of the U.S. military have lost their lives since the beginning of the war, according to the Associated Press.

In protesting the war, he said he hoped to “get people to get it in the forefront of their consciousness.”

Sandra Yerton of Meshoppen, a protest veteran who says she has attended too many to count, sat on a bench with a sign of her own: “Peace is Patriotic.”

A United Methodist pastor, she said “all our bishops have written against the war and I support their statements.

Bob Witkowski, 52, of Wilkes-Barre, said he was compelled to show up “by the feeling that we need to find a way out of Iraq. I don’t think we ever should have been there in the first place.”

Of the modest crowd, he said, “For Wilkes-Barre a dozen people is a good turnout.”

I'm kinda disappointed with this bunch of Green Party slackers. No veteran? A war protest without a veteran on hand just isn't right. No "I fought in a war and let me tell you-war is hell" bullspit? Gee whiz. We had no idea. We always thought fighting a war was akin to having a personal harem of ready to please naked girls that get wired just by thinking about consuming alcohol. War is bad? Really?

I will admit to being embarrassed for our area after reading the papers accounts of this loon-fest. A "war for oil?" Are they serious? That's so old, it's been all but forgotten by the cutting-edge anti-American, American apologists. Couldn't they chant something new from MoveOn.org? A "war for oil?" 1! 2! 3! 4! DUBYA'S DOG TOLD HIM TO GO TO WAR!!! Stupid? It makes about as much sense as they do. It's painfully obvious that this area this still just a tad behind the times.

And the co-chair of the Luzerne County Green Party was on hand. Wow! We were hoping for somebody more prestigious, like the Preident of the Charles Manson Fan Club, but she was in New York protesting the destruction of a totally inaccessible wetland (whatever the f**k that is) and the microscopic slime creatures that once lived and slimed there. According to an undisclosed source, Gary Coleman was supposed to attend Wilkes-Barre's first barrel-rolling race, but he instead chose to attend the Save The Whales/Kill The Submariners rally in beautiful downtown San FranFreako.

Thank goodness for those Green Party hemp loyalists. They could have selfishly stayed home and cleaned the cat pan. They could have chosen to help junior inventory his spray paint can collection. They might have opted to finally dust their Havana Mint Fidel Castro figurine collections. But no. They chose to give the weekend reporters always hungry for a story, any freakin' story, something moronic to fill Page 3 with.

Sandra Yerton of Meshoppen, a protest veteran who says she has attended too many to count, sat on a bench with a sign of her own: “Peace is Patriotic.”

Peace is patriotic? What the f**k? What? I am really starting to lean towards supporting abortion rights.

I think war represents an absence of policy.

Wow! How prophetic. I'm...I'm...left...well, speechless. As if! Carl from Wilkes-Barre should be made President of the World for life. He's an idea guy. So was Tom McGroarty.

This bilge reminds me of Kurt Shotko's daily rantings about how brave the wacked-out protesters are. And how much courage they display. And how they are patriots of the highest order. Want a quick translation? That means he sees himself as being brave. And he thinks he displays the utmost in courage. And he sees himself as a modern day patriot. Sounds to me like he just wants some attention.

Look at me, I'm a patriot and you're not. I held a protest sign at Courthouse Square all day long. And I didn't even get high.

Me? I'm not a patriot, but I certainly am brave. I have an alarm clock. And a calendar. And a daily planner. And a schedule. And a job. And quite a few bosses. And hundreds of regular customers. And folks back home that depend on me.

Nope. No patriots here. I ain't got enough time to be a bleeding-heart patriot. Sorry.

I'm but an average American.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

I think you miss understood the intent of my letter. The point I was trying to make was that the average guy isn't in the loop. He has no idea as to what's happening around him and so his opinions are often formed based on rumor, gossip, and in many cases jealousy. I was trying to show examples of some of the e-mail opinions I get in which someone is usually making an unfounded accusation for whatever reason. Typically, they're asking for me to exploit a line that was given to them by a neighbors cousins father in law. Such examples are the Barney Farms tax rate, cleverly disguised as a personal attacks on the Mayor, the Fire Chief, etc.. But often the accusations come from people who just don't know the truth and have no idea how to find it.

Another point I was trying to make is that the Chamber has a major public relations problem that they never seem to correct. They need to win the confidence of the public by showing the necessity of such an organization however boring that might be. Typically, the public at large is a lazy group. It's easier on them to be spoon fed information regardless of whether it's right or wrong. It's not that we have a valley full of morons, it's just that human nature dictates that we do as little as possible to survive. Anthropologists and sociologists have shown that theory to have spilled over into modern society in a variety ways which we can discuss or debate another time. Those who go beyond those limits are referred to as over achievers.

But most importantly, the Chamber makes mistakes. Sometimes big , expensive mistakes. High profile mistakes. That's what the public sees. Again because that's what sells newspapers.

In all fairness, the Chamber has housed some very unscrupulous characters over the years. The behavior of those persons have done a lot to undermine the publics confidence and opinions. Coupled with the one party system of of government we're forced to live under and it's abuses of power, the general public has the right to be suspicious. In my opinion, the valley has has abandoned democracy in favor of plutocracy. Which has grown the "Gimme mine now" mentality rather than striving for long term planning and solutions.

Now look what you did. You've got me rambling again. Oh yeah, the theatre. Dude, we gotta find time to have that beer we keep talking about. I think I'd need quite a bit of time time share my remembrances of the facts and figures that led to my opinions of the theatre project. Unfortunately, I have to go now. Out of towners in for a visit and I'm being a rude host by sitting at the key board. Talk at you soon,


Oops! Nevermind.

It's really interesting that you so adeptly referred to this area as being a "plutocracy." Believe me, I'll never find myself employed by the historical society, but I think the word "plutocracy" aptly decribes what has gone on in this area for way too long. But in the same breath, I honestly believe that despite our still having a one-party system in this county, the plutocrats know damn well that the hoi polloi are getting a little fed up with high taxation, nepotism and excuse after excuse after freaking excuse.

And I also think that Kevin Blaum's tenaciousness in bringing that arena to the city's edge proved to the grumbling masses that we can, in fact, do much better than we've grown accustomed to. And I also think that sort of high-profile progress put all kinds of pressure on the other leaders in this area (elected or otherwise) to get off of their collective asses and start pushing this county forward. I really do.

And I follow your point about the chamber having a public relations problem, but, then again, that doesn't mean that it's acceptable to go off half-cocked every time we're given the chance. Ask the guy who calls SAYSO and perpetuates some unfounded rumor he heard what he really knows about how the chamber operates, and he'll likely raise his voice, or quickly change the subject. It's not okay to be a dolt just because the last guy you ran across was also a dolt. And in the Chamber's defense, in these mostly challenged parts, you could not ask for more informative web sites than those that they have produced.

This jumped out at me:

Typically, the public at large is a lazy group. It's easier on them to be spoon fed information regardless of whether it's right or wrong. It's not that we have a valley full of morons, it's just that human nature dictates that we do as little as possible to survive. Anthropologists and sociologists have shown that theory to have spilled over into modern society in a variety ways which we can discuss or debate another time. Those who go beyond those limits are referred to as over achievers.

Dude, I doubt that you could have any inkling as to how completely I abhor laziness. Human nature dictates that we do as little as possible to survive? Well, then I'm a freak of nature to be studied at a later date. But, it does explain why SAYSO is so offensive and intellectully bankrupt. And it does suggest a lot as to why a county could be so backwards and so behind the times, while the populace seemed so content with re-electing the same stooges over and over again. And yes, we should reserve the right to be suspicious of the chamber folks, but as I said, I really don't understand how they failed us by not being able to successfully market a bunch of run-down cities managed by clueless trolls.

And I steadfastly maintain that the likes of Kevin Blaum, Mike Lombardo, Lou Barletta and Tom Leighton have raised the bar of expectations to a great extent. No longer will we settle for second-best after seeing for ourselves that Yes!, even Olive Garden and AHL hockey can be lured to poor old Culm County. Not only the countys, but it's three largest cities prospects are suddenly looking up. So why should we backslide and expect anything less from any supposed leader in the future?

I don't think the Wilkes-Barre Chamber, or whatever it is that they call it these days deserves a state holiday in it's honor. But, conversely, I don't see how it's done the area any worse than the elected boobs that did nothing to push this area forward for decades on end. These days, I think the pressure is on all of the top dogs to keep the momentum going. And I think they'll be slapping each other five one of these days soon.

And us common goobers? We need to be doing what we should have been doing all along. Namely, paying real close attention to what the well-heeled movers and shakers do. Oh, and getting a semi-stiffy on election day.

A beer? Yes, we have to do that already up at that Tavern on the Hill. Provided that you watch my back.

Pick a date.

Old photos? Alright. Here's one I took on April 24, 2004 during the first annual volunteer-driven, city-wide cleanup piggy-backing on Governor Ed Rendell's state-wide cleanup initiative. My question is, are we doing this sort of thing again?

I sure hope so. After a long, not-so-hard winter, every little bit helps.

The Erhlich Crew

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