4-22-2005 Hit it or git it!

Freedom of press didn't invent democracy; democracy allowed freedom of the press to flourish. We need to defend democracy.--Roger Ailes, FOX News honcho

Today is Earth Day. It's the 35th edition of Earth Day. And how did I celebrate this year's installment of the incremental destruction of the powerful American economy by frustrated communists?

I poured 200 gallons of termiticide directly into the soil. BANG!

How many people have I caused to be arrested now? How many are we up to? Ten, is it? The first seven were the result of my nonstop surveillance of the drug house down the street. Oh, and a ton of persistent work from a dedicated city detective who shall go nameless. The initial, sketchy reports that I'm privy to look like I got three more collars today. Well, I didn't actually make any arrests, but I sure as heck got the ball rolling in the right direction.

Here's the scoop.

I was driving northbound at the posted speed limit on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard this morning when I spyed a grouping of slacker types hangin' out on the railroad tracks under the South Street bridge. Basically, right behind Corba's Beverage. I got off the gas and took a better look only to see some grafitti goofball working his magic, while some other shirtless goof was holding what looked like a can of beer.

Think about it. The odds against catching these grafitti bastards in the act are pretty slim on most nights. I don't care how many cops a given city has on the payroll. If some dipsh*t wants to leave his mark on some remote spot, he's probably gonna pull it off. But, during the daylight hours, us law-abiding types have a fighting chance of causing the story of their arrests to appear on Page 1 of the newspapers in the morning. And since these morons were brazen enough to deface public property while sucking down a few sudsies at 10 in the morning; I sicced the frickin' cops on 'em.

I grabbed the cell phone and dialed-up someone at city hall. I could have called Luzerne County 911, but I wanted no lag time on this one. What I wanted was for all of the grafitti sh*tdicks to see a picture in the paper of one of their own being led off to somewhere dreary in handcuffs. Anywho, that certain somebody at city hall immediately called the chief of police. Within two minutes of my call, 561 was 10-17, (on his way) and very shortly afterwards, 10-23. (in the area) And it wasn't much longer after that when he notified 911 that he needed 10-29s (record checks) for a whole bunch of folks. I was very, very pleased with myself at that point.

I could not follow the scanner chatter all the way to this incident's conclusion after having arrived at a customer's home. But from what I could gather before switching the scanner off, we had two goofs with outstanding stuff waitin' on 'em. And somebody matched the criteria for a nifty public drunkenness charge. That spiffy new paddy wagon of ours was rolling towards Corba's, and I was all giddy and sh*t with what I had done.

Do I want a celebrity roast thrown in my honor? Nope. Key to the city? Forget about it. Do I want to be the grand marshal of the first annual American May Day parade here in Wilkes-Barre after Hillary is elected president and imposes outright communism upon us? I shudder to even think about it. It may be time to liquidate all of my assets and stuff them into the Sealy. But I digress.

Am I in need of an atta-boy? Not!

I just want to take my city back.

And while I'm on the subject of taking one's city back, it's really starting to piss me off that the loading dock at the former Fink's fish market on Penn Avenue is now a tent city. And it has been for quite some time now. For too long now. I'm sorry, but in my mind, the homeless derelicts living there need to be dispersed. Over and over and over again. They need to have our cops harassing them until they finally take the hint and jump off one of our many bridges. We've got enough reverse-gentrification to correct in this city the way it is without allowing the very worst of the slackers to set up homeless camps in full view of everyone next to our major thoroughfares.

On two separate occasions I tried but failed to personally contact our mayor about the latest in trespassing transgressions, but he's a busy guy, and I don't do voice mail. I f**king hate voice mail. Yeah, I have issues, but you had to suspect as much.

If the soup kitchen slackers need to set up refuge camps, let 'em do it in the woods down near the river where the future AIDS patients trawl for mammalian protuberances to suck and not on Pennsylvania Avenue. Make 'em walk a mile or two for their free eats. Force 'em to earn their meager keep. Keep bangin' their heads together until they settle under the South Street bridge so pricks such as myself can terrorize 'em? When is that overdue movie theater scheduled to open? Somewhere around Thanksgiving? Hasn't the time finally arrived where we start sending a painfully simple message to these filthy, drunken slackers?

Isn't it high time for a little "Hit it or git it?"

Read this bullsh*t!

The Citizens Voice

Wilkes-Barre's failure to initiate voting changes examined by county officials

By Edward Lewis, Staff Writer 04/21/2005

City has not reduced the number of council seats or eliminated at-large selection of body's members

Luzerne County officials were surprised to learn that Wilkes-Barre City Council has not yet abided by a 2001 referendum that reduces the number of council seats and adopts new voting districts.

"I thought the districts were signed, sealed and delivered," Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said at the county's Board of Elections meeting Wednesday.

"I did too," Leonard C. Piazza III, director for Luzerne County Bureau of Elections, said.

Board of Elections Solicitor Neil O'Donnell said he was unaware if council had or hadn't adopted boundaries for five districts.

A ballot referendum in the 2001 election reduced the number of city council seats from seven to five and changed the means of electing candidates from at-large to district-based.

After the referendum passed, Attorney John Moses chaired a committee known as the Moses Commission in 2002 and devised six scenarios that divided the city into five districts. The six options were unveiled on Nov. 27, 2002.

Under the new system, council members would be elected by district.

To date, council has not adopted the five-district model.

Skrepenak and commissioners Todd Vonderheid and Stephen Urban appeared to be growing impatient with Wilkes-Barre City Council's lack of progress.

Urban, more than Skrepenak and Vonderheid, has been very critical of Wilkes-Barre City Council. He has accused the city's legislative body of purposely stalling to adopt the reduction.

"People have had enough," Urban said. "They (council) hide behind a couple of big projects in town and forget about the people."

In a letter dated April 7, Wilkes-Barre City Council Chairwoman Shirley Vitanovec advised the board that council passed an ordinance in October 2004 amending the city's home rule charter to reflect the 2001 referendum.

"As a courtesy to the Election Board, we want the board to be aware that the city's municipal election of 2007 will be an election of five city council members by district, according to the referendum," Vitanovec wrote. "The City Council will have all matters addressed in time for the Election Board to perform its work for that same election."

Vitanovec and Wilkes-Barre Solicitor William Vinsko could not be reached for comment.

Urban repeated his claim council is stalling, saying the existing home rule charter was amended as a result of the referendum.

"Because this is an existing charter, these people are not allowed to stay," Urban said.

If a new charter was being adopted, Urban said the seven council members would be permitted to finish their four-year terms.

All seven current council members were elected in the 2003 election.

Legal challenge of the referendum in Luzerne County Court and at the state appellate court level prevented the adoption of the new rules for the 2003 election.

Commonwealth Court upheld the referendum in January 2004, and the state Supreme Court denied further appeal last August, validating the results of the 2001 election.

Christine Katsock, president of the Wilkes-Barre Area Taxpayers Association, echoed Urban's beliefs, saying a special election of five council members should be held this year.

"The city does not get to decide when this happens," Katsock said. "The people have spoken."

Luzerne County Green Party Chairman Carl Romanelli Jr. said council must adopt five districts before his party decides whether to challenge the boundaries in court.

"I don't know if the Luzerne County Green Party will file a legal action against the city," Romanelli said. "The city's only response is to accept the recommendation of the Moses Commission before we can take any type of recourse."

Vonderheid said the board of elections does not have authority to compel council to adopt a five-district model.

However, Urban attempted to pass a motion to file an action in Luzerne County Court that would compel council to adopt boundaries for five districts.

Urban's motion failed when it lacked support from Skrepenak or Vonderheid.

Instead, Skrepenak said he wanted council to first identify the boundaries of the five districts before moving forward.

"There's been no movement except from these seven people saying, 'I'm staying in power for another four years,' " Urban said.

People have had enough," Urban said. "They (council) hide behind a couple of big projects in town and forget about the people.

This minority commish of yours has become so completely transparent, so utterly tedious, I cannot imagine him being re-elected even if he ends up running against the corpse of a republican yanked from the political graveyard.

I mean, really. Who's f**king kidding who here? Steverino can go off on all of the "will of the people" tangents he wants. The sad fact of the matter is, the only reason, that's, the only friggin' reason he's all over city council like borderline insanity is all over Howard Dean is because he wants some of those undeclared candidates, i.e., those "taxpayer watchdogs," most of which happen to be republicans, elected already. This is nothing more than a veiled attempt to get the folks he runs with elected to some office this year, rather than at a later date. As if they stand a snowball's chance in a microwave anyway.

Pardon mon francais, but this is all bullsh*t.

The boring, ludicrous issue of the council being reduced by two and also elected by districts has been delayed by court challenges and whatnot. Not the council deciding to ignore the will of the people. If the city solicitor says council has every right to serve out the remainder of the four-year terms they were elected to, maybe our minority commish should prove him wrong in court already and save us all of the useless self-aggrandizement. His "Huff 'em 'n' puff 'em" bluster is much to do about nothing other than getting his name in the paper, and getting his equally blustery cohorts an elected position.

Seven. Five. Who gives a flyin' f**k? It's not as if the city's future is riding on any of this complete nonsense.

Vote that phoney out of office during the next election go-round.

Sez me.

How 'bout this?

According to The Times Leader, the Wilkes-Barre Taxpayers Association and the Luzerne County Green Party have made strange bedfellows.

How so?

What we have ourselves here is two organizations completely intent on capturing local elected offices. The Green Party folks admit to as much. And the Taxpayer Party pretends to be protecting us from the evil elected folks. (that they so desperately wish to replace)

When the representatives of the Taxpayer Party speak out against the current elected folks, it usually reads something like liars, and cheaters and people like you. But brushing the always accusatory tomes aside, you'll never catch me voting for anyone that pretends to be something they're not.

The Wilkes-Barre Taxpayer Association? Nah. Call it what is really is: The Wilkes-Barre Taxpayer Party.

Again, sez me.

We have a new pope! Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany is now the most powerful Catholic in the world. Well, second most powerful if you count Mel Gibson.--Jay Leno

Someone's heart seems to be in the right place, but I just don't know about this one.

Wilkes-Barre City needs more than a superficial 'makeover'



In response to the announcement of the formation of the Wilkes-Barre Shade Tree Commission and the upcoming events to beautify Wilkes Barre Boulevard, although the program may be commendable, I feel compelled to register a few comments.

How about "too little too late" or "beauty is only skin deep?" As a 25-year resident of South Wilkes Barre, I have watched the deterioration of a lovely community within the larger city. Graffiti, vandalism, gang behavior, drug houses, inconsiderate neighbors, trash and litter have overrun these once-inviting neighborhoods. Forget about letting your child play at Kitsler Elementary School or Miner Park. The jungle gym was recently burned in the schoolyard and the park is littered with broken glass, needles and trash - not to mention the people who hang out there. To be frank, a responsible person would not even walk a dog there.

My child attended Kistler School just a few short years ago, and when I first saw the damage, I was ready to find out how much it would cost to replace the slide that was burned. Maybe the gesture would help restore what once was, just as the planting of trees may spruce up the main thoroughfare into Wilkes Barre.

But what needs to happen in this town is much deeper than a "makeover." The soul of our city needs a transformation, and Wilkes-Barre's administration and police department need to wake up. Stop worrying about the city's parking meters and begin to face the truth: Criminal behavior and drug-related crime is permeating our streets, and we are turning our heads as a city. We already know the effect on the value of our properties and homes, but what about the value of our very lives? Our community's soul? Why can't our children play in the parks and walk safely on the streets?

Something needs to change and change quickly. No number of donated trees will shade this city from the moral and physical demise to come if the blind eye of ignorance continues.

Sonja Peters
Wilkes Barre

The soul of the city needs a transformation...

I'm not exactly sure, but I doubt that city council can pass an ordinance forcing the lot of us retreads to rework our souls.

...and Wilkes-Barre's administration and police department need to wake up. Stop worrying about the city's parking meters...

Hmmm. A bit irrational? The city desperately needs money, or the entire program might end up being the economic equivalent of an Island of Lost Souls. (Deborah Harry? I'm not that old) And the parking enforcement guys do the meters. Not the cops.

...and we are turning our heads as a city.

No we're not.


Does anyone remember this name?

Posted on Thu, Apr. 21, 2005

A restaurant with soul

By JERRY LYNOTT jlynott@leader.net

I just knew that we needed this kind of place. … Black, white, Chinese, Mexican, all come in.--Shakeya Craig Restaurant owner

WILKES-BARRE – The sign for Shakeya Craig’s restaurant had just been applied to the window when people started walking through the door. The only problem was the grand opening for Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant wasn’t until the next day.

So the food being made to test the kitchen equipment that day was given away and drew compliments.

“We had to open,” Craig said. “People want a home-cooked meal.”

Craig said she began thinking about meeting an unfilled demand for soul food in Wilkes-Barre when she moved here four years ago.

“I just knew that we needed this kind of place.”

What you’ll get at Sylvia’s Soul Food is what Miss Mary and Miss Margaret, the seasoned cooks, make from scratch in the small, clean kitchen: barbecue ribs, turkey wings, collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, cabbage, sweet potato pie, banana pudding and pineapple upside-down cake.

Craig found Miss Mary by chance in a desperate phone call to a friend. She was about to open and needed a cook, so she called the friend, who put her in touch with Miss Mary. Miss Margaret, known to Miss Mary through a family relationship, also came along. The 50-something cooks, who live in the Wilkes-Barre area, asked to be identified only by their first names.

“Every Sunday we used to cook,” said Miss Mary, who grew up in Sandersville, Ga. “Chicken, fried chicken, fried fish, roast pork, sometimes we’d have a whole roast pig.”

There are no written recipes, said the 20-something Craig, who leaves the cooking to her elders. They’re the ones who know what goes into the meals and what makes it authentic soul food. “It’s cooked from the heart.”

“That’s what I do. I put a lot of love into it,” said Miss Mary as she sorted collard greens on a tabletop.

So far the response to Sylvia’s Soul Food has been overwhelming. “Black, white, Chinese, Mexican, all come in,” Craig said. The restaurant ran out of food the first few days.

“It’s just a great feeling that I make so many people happy,” she said.

The restaurant is named for her mother, Sylvia Elizabeth Craig, who lives in North Philadelphia. It’s not associated with the more famous Sylvia’s in Harlem, Shakeya Craig pointed out.

About four years ago, Craig moved to Wilkes-Barre, following family members. With no place in town to serve soul food, she set about looking for a space to lease or rent. The few places in the city she looked at were eventually rented out to other businesses that have since closed, she said.

“I’ve never been to college. I never worked in a restaurant before,” Craig said. But she was determined to open her own business. With family and friends, she spent months cleaning up the inside of the former florist shop at 129 Academy St. A great deal of credit goes to Joe and Colleen Flynn, who have experience operating a pizza business in Hanover Township. They helped with the kitchen equipment and set-up, Craig said.

The city has been helpful too getting her up and running, she added. The health inspector left her a note the last week that the place looked great. “That made me feel really good.”

Parking is tight in the neighborhood and Craig acknowledged she’s afraid of traffic problems if customers try to double park on the busy street to run in and pick up an order. The nearby Academy Super Market is empty and, if torn down, could provide ample parking for businesses in the area, she said.

But more immediate than that, Craig is looking to replace the roast beef on the menu with ox tail. She said she found a vendor and will soon offer it as a dinner menu item. She likes hers prepared with rice, peas, cabbage and lots of gravy.


I talked to a city detective last night. Trust me, he knows that name very well. Has the queen of the vampires up and gone legit on me? If you have no clue as to what I'm going on about, drop me an electronic pulse and I'll refresh your memory.

And speaking of electronic pulses...

From the e-mail inbox You are the worst kind of idiot still running loose in this city.

O...kay. Can you expound on that to some degree? Please. Just a little bit. And just how many variations are there on your basic idiot? C'mon, man. You started this idiocy thing. We want to hear much, much more from the expert. Share your brilliance.

I always do.