3-23-2005 Tom, Mark and Harry?

Iíve dealt with this Kurt Shotko, who was arrested for protesting at the parade. Last I knew, he was trying to get disability for a work-related injury to his leg. And apparently thatís not going so well. And, apparently, it doesnít stop him from being able to walk all over the place carrying a sign. The guyís a Ö

EDITORíS NOTE: We took out the name-calling. Shotko said he is pursuing a workersí compensation claim due to previous, work-related injury but he didnít claim it stopped him from walking.--From today's SAYSO column

What do the professional (Green Party) protestors do for money? Not too much.

Here's a snippet from today's Leader story Man compares W-B police to Gestapo:

We were quietly, peacefully marching through the square, and our signs were not obstructing anybodyís view of the parade,Ē Shotko said. ďThe city needs to make sure that all its police officers are aware what the rights of people protesting are.Ē

Bobryzk, a Polish immigrant who became a U.S. citizen 28 years ago, recounted his memories of the Gestapo menacing his family in the early 1940s, compared the Wilkes-Barre police to those fascists and read a prayer to council.

ďThe coal miners and workers who built this community would be rolling in their graves if they knew that the right of protest was being limited in Wilkes-Barre,Ē Shotko said.

City Attorney Tim Henry told Shotko he had reviewed the incident at the request of Mayor Tom Leighton and council and took the view that the officers had done nothing wrong. ďWe support our officers in full.Ē

Shotko then promised a federal lawsuit and declared the protection of his rights are the duty of city council. Later, Shotko said he will file suit in federal court and will act as his own attorney.

A videotape of the arrest was reviewed by Times Leader staff members. A woman interviewed on the video claimed the police had confiscated her cell phone and broken the antenna, but that incident was not caught on tape.

From the Voice story 2 claim W-B cops violated their rights:

"We'll see you in federal court," Shotko told council after hearing Solicitor Tim Henry's opinion the city police department committed no wrong doing.

"At no time was I in front of any people at the parade," Shotko said. "The City of Wilkes-Barre will end up paying sadly for their mistakes.

"You're not going to violate my constitutional rights." Council quickly adjourned the meeting after Shotko's remarks.

"I'm comfortable with the investigation the police department conducted and support our officers' actions," Mayor Tom Leighton said after the meeting. "There were issues that day with parade-goers and our officers acted accordingly. I firmly stand behind the department."

Federal court? A federal lawsuit? The last time I checked, you needed some money to launch frivolous lawsuits in any court. Ouch! You can count Kurt out. That is, unless the Green Party stalwart can find himself an attorney willing to barter some pro bono work for a few Ziplock bags stuffed with hemp.

Check out this exchange I recorded early this morning between WILK's Sue Henry and Kurt himself.

SUE: Kurt, Page 3 in both papers? What's going on with this?

KURT: Well, we're taking over. I think the meek are going to inherit the Earth. It's comin...but...um...first of all Sue, my sign was, uh, it was above the heads of all the crowd and you can see that in the film that was shown on Adelphia on channel 10 on Thursday. Uh, it's probably 20 feet tall. It was designed, actually, to be above the crowd so the people on the opposing side of the street could read the sign. And I'm out of everybody's way.

Forget his fascism bullspit. Forget that he thinks the Wilkes-Barre cops don't understand at all the concept of a person's constitutional rights. Forget the fact that he didn't have a permit to protest in a city park. And forget that he hasn't regurgitated his original accusation that Wilkes-Barre's finest threatened him with a fist in his face when no one was looking. Forget all of that.

But what about a supposedly (Yeah right!) semi-disabled guy and a 67 year-old guy hauling twenty-foot high poles through the middle of the crowds at the well-attended parade? What about that? What about the couple hundred toddlers lining the parade route? What of public safety?

What if one of these two save-the-world stooges tripped over their own sandals and lost control of their twenty-foot high poles? What if, Kurt? Should we have to risk being skulled at a parade only because you didn't get enough attention while never having grown up? I saw one of his "fascists" using and needing all of his weight to snap those puppies so as to make them fit in the trunk of a city police cruiser.

I had all three of my grandkids sitting with me on the curb during that parade. Gage is 3 1/2, Taylor is barely 2, and Zach is 18 months old? How do we think their skulls might stand up to one of Kurt's twenty-foot high poles after it went TIMBER!? With just a minor stumble over one of those heaving paver blocks, Kurt could have just as easily skulled a small child. And rather than being babbling on about federal court, he'd be hoping to one day appeal his conviction up to the federal level.

And on a personal level, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this, if my granddaughter had been injured because of Kurt's useless antics, and I turned to see his ugly puss contorting and belching it's initial "I'm so sorry" offering; those "fascist thugs" he's droning on and on about would not have gotten to the scene quick enough to save him from an aggravated assault the likes of which I'm certain he's never seen.

In that case, he'd be claiming that the Wilkes-Barre police (the only thing protecting him from the criminals) saved his life when some fascist went nuts on him for no other reason than trying to save the entire world from his Public Square soapbox. Or more accurately, from his own private Idaho.

If I know his rabid kind at all, he'd love nothing more than to make a return appearance at a high profile event held in Wilkes-Barre as soon as possible. And as far as I know, the residents of Wilkes-Barre and those of it's surrounding environs do not need a permit from any governing body to conceal a loaded Super-Soaker.

The next time we gather as a community...I'll be watching for him.

Gestapo? Gestapo this!!! you f**king loser.

Although, I do need a bit of legal advice before the next parade goes down. Can I be arrested for a squirt gun assault on a hapless, lost soul?

Lemme know.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

Itís with great interest that I have read some of your back and forth comments with Harry regarding the Chamber and if itís Ok with you guys, I would love to join the two of you someday for a couple of beers. Heck, Iíll even buy. Let me start off by saying I agree with a lot of what Harry has to say about public perception and media coverage. Being in an extremely competitive media market does have some disadvantages. As for some of the Chamberís costly mistakes, Iíve heard most of them and most get their start from some sort of bizarre urban legend that no one can prove. I have the same argument with an older relative every Easter dinner over how Saturn wanted to locate here and the Chamber drove them out because they were going to pay higher wages than existing companies. After a few years of being polite and biting my tongue, I finally went back into our archives and dug out the Saturn file/proposal. As it turns out, we were one of roughly fifty regions selected in the first round of possible selection cuts. The 8 inch thick proposal submitted to them was from several regional partners - including the first time we actually worked with the Scranton Chamber on a significant regional project. They eventually chose an area in the south because of a more available workforce that fit their skill sets and the overall cost of doing business was lower. Everyday, we compete against 2 thousand other communities who want the same thing Ė the most and highest paying jobs possible. Every edge and advantage counts when trying to locate companies to Greater Wilkes-Barre. That is the reason we become so active in community development projects. We want to be sure that potential executives want to move their companies as well as their families to someplace they can be proud of. This is why arenas, riverfronts and similar efforts are so important. In addition to this community deserving better public facilities, these projects put us on the map for the world to see. Iím not saying weíre perfect but Iím willing to friendly debate and give some behind the scenes info on any of the past projects weíve been involved with and Iím very confident in our batting average on regional projects. We are focusing the majority of our energy on the Downtown now, simply because in the past, the business community was shut out of Wilkes-Barre. We realize more than anyone that if your core is dead how can the rest of the area prosper. Downtowns should be a showcase and the first stop for any visitor to our region and we are thrilled to have cooperative administrations at the city and county level to work with to make that happen.

This isnít meant to be an invitation to a potential barroom brawl. I really would enjoy having this discussion. I believe itís healthy to hear from oneís critics. Not too long ago, Mark, I believe you had some very different perceptions on a few people/organizations in our community. I wish more people like yourself were as committed to keeping up with developments in Downtown. I believe Harry is right about people not paying attention to the details. I donít believe itís because people are lazy, rather I think itís because too much is going on in their lives and there is only so much time in the day. We may live for a revitalized Wilkes-Barre but other people live for other causes such as their childrenís sports programs, their churches, family, their business and even things like Nascar or the Final Four tournament.

Pick the time and your favorite Wilkes-Barre pub and Iíll be sure to join you.


Tom Ruskey
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry

Harry? Are you groovin' this? I think we just found ourselves another excuse to go drinking. Tavern on the Hill anyone? Gimme a time. Gimme a day.

And if we could, I'd prefer it if those firehouse committee folks were pretty much kept at arms length. I've never had a kidney of mine perforated by a meat thermometer, and I'd rather not experience such a revolting thing at this late stage of the game. I'm kidding. Don't friggin' start! They may be passionate as all hell, but they're not violent.

Not too long ago, Mark, I believe you had some very different perceptions on a few people/organizations in our community. I wish more people like yourself were as committed to keeping up with developments in Downtown. I believe Harry is right about people not paying attention to the details. I donít believe itís because people are lazy, rather I think itís because too much is going on in their lives and there is only so much time in the day. We may live for a revitalized Wilkes-Barre but other people live for other causes such as their childrenís sports programs, their churches, family, their business and even things like Nascar or the Final Four tournament.

I had some very different perceptions on a few people/organizations in our community? Sure I did. And while my very earliest internet posts offered more questions than answers, rather than castigating folks for years on end, I did take the time to find the answers to quite a few of those early questions. And I had a ton of help along the way. And I've had some of those misconceptions thrown in my face at various points, but I never let that bother me in the least. Because the one thing that separated me from the hordes of anonymous critics out there in SAYSO-land was the fact that I attached my name to whatever I had to say about anything. In effect, this web site became the electronic letter to the editors that had no ending.

And I didn't mean to sound as though I was totally down on my fellow residents, but they've been repeating the same tired bullspit for generations now. I remember the first time I heard the well-worn blather about the chamber not wanting high-paying employers coming to this area. I don't remember how old I was at the time, but if I had to guess, I'd say early twenties. And back then, the very least of my concerns was what any stuffed shirt at any chamber had to say about most anything. I may be wrong, but I think the chamber honcho at that time was a guy by the name of Alfred E. Neuman. But getting back to the chamber supposedly being the cause of the government surplus cheese lines, the first time I heard that off-kilter bilge, I thought to myself, "Now why in the muck would they do that?" It just didn't make any sense to me, even back in the days when we where trying to set the new record for keeping a flowing beer tap in our mouths. Why in the muck would they do that? Now, is it just me, or should even the sober folks have been questioning that complete illogic all along?

A long time ago, the coal industry went kablooey. And then the rather sizable textile industry in this area began to fade away. But unless I'm missing something, those once plentiful jobs offered neither decent wages, nor many, if any, benefits to speak of. Much of what passed as "good" jobs in this depressed area disappeared long before I discovered that girls needed further studying on my part. But as far as I'm concerned, this area never really had many jobs worth getting excited about in the first place.

Consider why I spent my boyhood in Connecticut rather than in Wilkes-Barre. In Connecticut, my step-dad built submarines and made a pretty penny and then some doing so. But my mom yearned for Wilkes-Barre and so we stayed at my grandma's house on N. Washington Street for an entire month while he searched high and low for a job that paid only close to what he was earning back there in New England. The best he could find was some serf-like position at a place called (I think) Vulcan Ironworks. Back to Connecticut we went. Mom was sad. Suzie was sad. And Markie was even sadder. But the pighead still had a job that paid well above average wages. I can recall seeing one of his paystubs while at the local Stop 'n' Shop, say, circa 1967. And his take-home pay was $388.00. Now tell me, was anyone in this entire county making that kind of dough 38 years ago? Methinks not.

I don't even know if there was such a thing as a Chamber of Commerce way back then. And if there was, I have no clue as to what they might have been doing, or not doing. But this area is no different than many of the other rustbelt areas that had no clue as to what to do after the local mill closed. And when you harken back to the mine-scarring that permeated practically every foot of this county, how in the hell would you go about marketing that to Fortune 500 companies? And as far as the other rustbelt areas of the country are concerned, lots of them fell from the radar never to return after their dominant local industries went belly-up.

I guess what I'm trying to get across is that this entire area has been somewhat depressed since the last of the Napoleanic Wars. Or somewhere thereabouts. And because of that, some guy not old enough to join the A.A.R.P. at some downtown office is to blame? Spare me. I think our chances as a county are suddenly looking much, much, much brighter and I know I didn't have anything to do with any of that?

So who did?

Harry, whip open that Daytimer and give me a buzz. The Chamber Dude wants to swill a few and have at a bit of friendly verbal tit-for-tat.

Sounds like fun to me.

Up it goes

If we get much more of this crunchy water falling down upon us, I'm gonna do a Google search for the psychotrophic drugs of choice.


Tom, Mark and Harry? And who is it filling in for Dick?

Gotta roll.

Shake it easy