3-26-2005 There went "The fuzz"

I'm starting to scare myself. I have some serious concerns about the present state of my mental faculties. I was cruisin' on home today when Children of the Sun was just beginning on Rock 107. So what did I do about it? I cranked the volume as high as it would go? Force of habit? Or something much more troubling?

As always, I took in yesterday's installment of The Sue Henry Show on WILK.

Before I treat you to some more needless circumlocution, I'd like to offer a public apology to "The Franchise" herself. Sue, it's not that I don't want to call in and add to the zaniness. It's just that I'm usually face-to-face with someone who's home is being consumed when the hot-button issues that light my fire come up. Or, I'm lying prone in some dark, dank place that most normal human beings would resist entering in the first place. That's assuming that their waistlines wouldn't preclude them from exploring the subterranean passages I so often call my home away from home. Sorry, Babs.

Anyway, the Friday installment of the Sue Henry show brings with it the freedom to any caller to bring up whatever topic it is that floats their boat. Or rocks the boat. Or something thereabouts. Bare with me. This is not exactly a how-to on excogitation at it's best. The long and short of it is, if Sue happens to be talking about, say, how the world would totally suck without having TANG at our disposal, you could immediately dial her up and rant away about how Tom Leighton isn't doing enough to stamp out rare penile diseases in our lifetimes. I'm sure he's concerned about some folks problems with erectility, but electability and erectility have little to do with each other in most cases. So...he probably loses the penile vote. Then again, judging by the garbage that comes out of the mouths of his biggest critics on a consistent basis, maybe thinking with one's penis shouldn't always be taken as a sexual thing. As I forewarned, bare with me here. My thoughts are coming together about as well as those of the pseudo paladins that have city council considering the hiring of a pivot man with long fingers that suggest a preclusion towards prehensility.

Any-fargin-way, some lady is being starved to death in Florida. Ed Rendell wants to put slot machines in our Head Start facilities. Iran is cruisin' for a very serious military bruisin'. Social Security is in crisis. Well, it was a crisis for 25 years until a republican proposed changes to the system. Now it's peachy neato all of a sudden. There's another ebola outbreak somewhere in Africa known for worshipping the AK/47. Kevin Lynn is hysterical now that energy independence is being discussed as a viable option for this country. Barry Bonds has threatened to take his syringes and go home. Todd Vonderheid almost killed someone with 6 grams of play sand, a balloon and a chicken arm-and was cleared of any wrongdoing! Kyrgystan is melting down before our very eyes. Some famous chess player on the run from extradition wants all of us dead. House Majority Leader Tom Delay should be boiled alive in a septic tank. Or, so they say. The Iraqi insurgents are down to their last metric ton of C4. An oil refinery in Texas decided to go critical mass. The Pope even admitted that he just can't hang with the Cardinals anymore at full-court basketball. And George Bush wants to EAT MY CHILDREN!!!

So with all of that seemingly earth-shattering stuff on the table, what does Walter Griffith (recently nominated for the Pseudo Paladin of the Year award by the Wilkes-Barre Tax-Whiners Association) feel the need to blather on about?

Master Chemical.

Get this, he "doesn't understand what the riff is between those residents and the Master Chemical people.

Am I supposed to vote for a guy that doesn't understand the NIMBY mindset?

I love this quote: ...all of a sudden, Kathy Kane and a couple of other people in the city decided to chastise a business that generates a lot of revenue, of which the city needs.

I mean, it isn't like we have the option to throw businesses out of the city at this point.

I was quick to admonish the council folks that mistakenly bothered to encourage the NIMBY pricks down there in Mohawk Central, but no elected official at any time even hinted that Master Chemical should gather up their urinal aides and go elsewhere. And for Walt to even plant that idea in the heads of the folks listening to Sue's show was nothing more than a gross misrepresentation of the facts on his part. Christ! This guy just can't stand to lose!

At this sorry point, his vexatious approach to muckraking for headlines is fast approaching being that of a political stalker. No matter what the politcos do, and no matter what the politicos say, Walt is always crouching down in the nearby shrubbery and ready to spring out at whoever will listen to his latest misleading bullspit.

All that a couple of our council folks are guilty of is placating a bunch of misguided folks that don't understand why retail businesses are so important to the city's coffers. At no time did any elected official suggest that Master Chemical was in the wrong, or had to re-locate to anywhere. The next time the fools on Conwell Street raise their mighty voices, Kathy Kane ought to offer to have Master Chemical summarily bounced from the city provided that those very same fools make up for the lost revenues to the city.

You don't like Master Chemical in your backyard? No problemo. We'll make them go away and then raise your taxes. Sound good?

Now, you might be thinking something along the lines of, "Well, who gives a muck what that bitter gadfly has to say?" But be remindful of the fact that the folks in our neighboring communities listening to Sue's show don't know that this bitter guy is superfluousness personified. Every time he launches into another of his typical gross misrepresentations of the facts, he's damaging Wilkes-Barre's reputation in the eyes of our cautious neighbors. Especially with his misguided forays into the wonderful world of talk radio. They are left with the lasting impression that Wilkes-Barre sucks, or Wilkes-Barre doesn't seem able to get it's act together. And that is Walt's only contribution to our on-going attempts to get this city back on track.

Every time he opens his yap, our neighbors have yet another reason to avoid Wilkes-Barre at all costs.

He is to Wilkes-Barre what cancer is to the human body.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

I'm in. Wednesday evening is about the only night I'll be free this week. Would 8:00 pm be okay? Meet at the Tavern on the Hill?

Tom, if you're out there, are you sure you want to do this? I'm mean drinking with an Irishman, in a bar, talking politics? And no brawl? Jeez, that takes the fun out of being an Irishman!

You know, it would be nice to get the straight dope from from a chamber insider. The minor politicos give me more wrong information than right. And as someone who's been more interested in social justice than finance and industry, an education in that arena would be most welcome! I think it might be enjoyable to hear someone discuss direction rather than another round of incessant whining. What say ya'll?


You can count me in, but not that night. Sorry. Please try again. Tom? You gettin' this? Besides, I need some more time to come up with some killer Irish jokes.

There's an Irishman, a Chamber of Commerce guy, and some cocky internet bastard sittin' at the bar when in comes a horrendously heavy woman sporting an eye patch and a moustache. She looks at the Chamber guy and says...

From the e-mail inbox Mark, I gotta know? I'm wondering if it is the same dumb f**k that called South Station to complain about me not too long ago.

Wanna here the story? Too bad, I'm going to tell you anyway! I was on a call in south W-B. A case of alcohol and domestic violence. A man sat on the side walk bleeding from the head and face. Hands cuffed behind his back. He was obviously in need of stitches, which is why the PD called for us. Anyway, he was agitated, drunk, and obnoxious. Spitting, kicking, threatening myself and my partner. I knew it would be difficult to try and transport this guy under those circumstances and so I leaned down and asked if he smoked. He did, and so I took a cigarette out of my pocket, stuck it in his mouth and lit it. Instantly he calmed down. And then he asked why I wasn't having a butt with him. So I fired one up and sat down next to him. We talked for a while about the cops, the situation he was in, and that he needed to be stitched. Now the guy was really calm. He agreed to go to the hospital without a fight and off we went.

I've done this many times over the last 17 years serving on the ambulance. Restoring someone's pride if for only a few moments makes my job a heck of a lot easier. But when I got back to the engine house my Captain grilled me about the goings on of the call. As it turns out someone had called South Station directly to complain about me sitting on the ground and having a smoke while some poor bastard sat bleeding right next to me! Now this person didn't call City Hall or the Fire Chief's office. He/she called South Station directly. Which leads me to believe this was a person with a vested interest in the Fire Dept. or in me. After reading your account I can't help wondering if it was the same person? I'm pretty sure I know who it was in my case, as I recalled the faces in the crowd. So tell me! Who was it?


My e-mail response is on it's way.

Smoking while an injured man is bleeding all over the tarmac? Dude, I'm shocked. I think the Cap' should have taken away your pool table privileges for an entire week. And no more Game Boy at firegrounds.

Actually, I remember when the East Enders would file out of the bars at 2:30 a.m. and into our restaurant back in the day. We'd have 192 seats filled with inebriated, beer-muscled guys, and I'd just know that sooner or later somebody was gonna do something real, real stupid, if not real, real illegal. And when one or more of them went and got real stupid like, they'd always be ready to fight when the corrective action I decided upon quickly came their way. And they'd always end up one of three ways after our encounters: 1. Beaten and left to sleep it off in the bushes on the dark side of the store, 2. Arrested, or 3. Beaten and arrested. I must admit, #3 was always my goal when the fists started flying. It never mattered to me at all if anyone got hurt. What mattered was that the right people got hurt. And in that respect, I had an amazing midnight shift track record. Five years-three sutures. Should have been more, but electrical tape usually worked well on minor gashes and whatnot.

And I pretty much saw it all. I was treated to jerks sporting butterfly knives they had little idea about how to operate. Drunks with nightsticks they made in wood shop. Loonies from the Veterans hospital out on their weekend pass and reliving the carnage they were a part of in Laos so long ago. Weenies with all sorts of martial arts toys that impressed their underaged girlfriends, but no one else. A mental patient swinging a crutch at a waitress and babbling about her being a spy for the CIA. A guy, who when punched in the noggin', his pants would drop and expose the fact that he didn't wear anything underneath. I was attacked from behind by women that couldn't stand watching their Disco Boy honeys getting pummeled by a couple of overzealous short-order cooks. I fought dips who didn't understand what "theft of service" was all about. I fought dips that took bending expensive silverware to a whole new level. I fought a dip that tried to kill two bundles of Sunday Independents that were minding their own business. I fought black dudes that had some serious chips on their shoulders and way too much fermented hops and barley in their blood stream. I even mopped the entire parking lot with a trucker from the deep south who took exception to my wanting him to pay for the entire entree he ordered, not the half he ate. Plus, he was originally pissed that we didn't have grits on the menu. Goll danged Yankees!

Many, many times I had been punched. Kicked. Tackled. Grabbed by the K-Mart tie. Head-locked. Stabbed at. Flailed at. Cursed at. Swung at with (pick one.) Spat at. All until the cops got there and took things into their own hands. And in all honesty, there were those nights when I might have been charged with assorted crimes had the cops not gotten there so freakin' fast. Once that adrenaline pump kicks into overdrive, it's not that easy to shut it down.

One quick aside, I remember wifey always being mad at me when I'd get home in the morning. She's see the ripped shirt, or the bloodied K-Mart tie, or the gauze and electrical tape wrapped around some part of me and she'd always let loose with, "What the hell did you do now?" I always told her the same thing: I didn't start it. And most of the time I was telling her the truth.

But every single time I was forced to resort to violence, there was always one thing that came out of my mouth as soon as the cops took over. It was so, so very consistent, it became predictable to the "midnight" savvy employees that worked the front of the house. As soon as the cops took to banging the faces of the handcuff-averse off of a car hood, I'd always take a quick inventory of what was left of me, look back at the waitresses standing there with their jaws still dropped and say "Somebody get me a Newport!!!" And after witnessing enough of these ugly incidents, there came a day when all I had to do was turn back at those girls and one of them would already have a hand out-stretched towards me with a Newport ready to meet the Zippo.

A Newport. That was the only sure-fire way to get that adrenaline pump to gear down a tad.

Harry, you sure know your business.

And whoever complained about your efforts that night is probably much like those midnight shift idiots that regularly confused their body fat with muscles, and their fat asses with brains.

I'm curious, did the city reimburse you for that cigarette?

I snagged part of the Voice story: Forty Fort disbanding its police department from the latest edition:

Forty Fort disbanding its police department

By Elizabeth Skrapits, Staff Writer 03/26/2005

As soon as the Forty Fort police contract comes to an end, so does the entire department.

Council passed a resolution Tuesday to disband the borough's police department effective Jan. 1, 2006, immediately after the police contract ends Dec. 31, Mayor Boyd Hoats said.

"As far as I know, it's a done deal," he said. Council talked about shutting down the police department in executive session at the March 7 meeting, but nothing was determined at that point, Hoats said.

"When it was first brought up, I spoke against it," he said. "Being mayor, my primary responsibility is for the safety and welfare of the residents."

Here comes the fuzz. Here's comes the fuzz. Order in the courtroom, here comes the fuzz.--Flip Wilson

Well, there went the fuzz.

This snippet here is what got my fractured mind spinning again:

"When it was first brought up, I spoke against it," he said. "Being mayor, my primary responsibility is for the safety and welfare of the residents."

Now, what I'm thinking is not necessarily about Fort Fort or it's mayor in particular, it's more about the oft-recurring, but always resisted suggestion of consolidation rather than regionalization. I don't know much about how Forty Fort operates, but it is one heckuva nice community.

Being mayor, my primary responsibility is for the safety and welfare of the residents."

The safety and welfare of the residents? Hmmm. Is it just me, or does there not come a point when the local small town government has finally outlived it's usefulness, or even it's reason for being in the first place? If the town can't afford a police force, and if the garbage/recyclables are hauled away by private enterprise types, who needs the local government? Why pay a mayor, a council and whomever else they think they need to neither provide for the safety or the welfare of the residents?

Again, remember, I'm not zeroing in Forty Fort here.

Many of these thousands of boroughs of ours in this state have deleted their smallish police forces. And have their trash hauled away by the private sector. And have volunteer fire departments. One more time, no cops, few if any paid first responders, and barely anyone to call a DPW type.

Now why is it again that they need a mayor and such? Why is it that any borough in that position wouldn't seek to delete itself as a functioning government, and it's identity as a separate community? Why not the Forty Fort section of Kingston? The new and improved "Nord End" of Kingston if you will.

I don't get it. If you have no police, no DPW, and a volunteer fire department, what's the freaking point of having a government? Other than passing strict ordinances regarding the safety of shade trees and the needless ban on back yard burning in 55-gallon drums, what is the point? We're talking about living in a town where the mayor would be completely powerless to fix a parking ticket for someone claiming to have voted for him. If the trees are safe, and the air is suddenly cleaner, what the hell is the mayor gonna do without parking tickets to fix? And how the hell can he play politics with no employees to dick around? What's left to manage? The eventual paving over of the playgrounds due to the prohibitive cost increases of liability insurance? Pushing a twenty word memo regarding next to nothing at all from the "in" bin to the "out" bin? And out to whom? All three of the remaining borough employees and the five to seven council folks?

These sleepy bedroom communities are nice and all, but as soon as I heard that my police force was going bye-bye, I'd be voting with my feet. See ya! People keep griping about the recently enacted $52 right-to-toil tax here in Wilkes-Barre, but we just hired more new cops than Forty Fort even had to begin with. Believe it or not, there are clear advantadges to city living versus borough living. Forget the buying power and the increased chances for everything from sizable state grants, etc., etc.

I would never call the cops for anything of a frivolous nature. Never have. But if Helter Skelter II goes down here at the adobe, I can rest assured that they are all gonna race amongst themselves to get here first. And if the 'puter goes poof and lights the place up, our paid fire department is gonna come rushing in here in four minutes or less. And if those DPW guys keep leaving a trail of garbage behind them on this street, wifey is gonna force me to call down there and have something done about it. And if my brain finally explodes all over the ceiling blocks, the EMS guys will be here faster than a Domino's driver with no car insurance. A diminished, but still large tax base can still provide first rate services. But what of the much smaller communities? Can they still provide for the "safety and welfare of the residents?

I don't think so. And if they can't, what is the point?

And while I realize that the recent doings in Forty Fort might be nothing more than a ploy by the politicos to get their cops to work for less than they are now, it suggests that the writing may be on the wall for that town. When things get to the point where you can't afford anything, what is the point? Doesn't becoming the "Nord End" section on the new and improved map make much more sense?

There's no doubt that Wilkes-Barre has it's share of weighty and well-publicized problems, but at least we've still got a dozen or so scanner codes we can call our own.

Police? No police?

I'll vote police every time.

Forty Fort is quieter and much more serene than Wilkes-Barre, but I like knowing that the cavalry will come when I call and not the State Police that might be already committed en masse to one of those other smallish towns that sh*t-canned it's entire police force. One of those other smallish towns that also chose to ignore the obvious writing on the wall.

That's what I think.

Crazy, ain't I?

Have a nice holiday.