6-8-2005 “Unbelievable” or: Even if we see it…we’d prefer to disbelieve it

Don’t go giving me any e-mail grief over the following side-splitting list. I snagged it from EHOWA.com.

Muslim Bumper Stickers

My other car is a bomb

This vehicle makes wide right turns into buildings

Keep honking, I'm rewiring

Visualize World Jihad

My other car is in the abdomens of 50 Israeli civilians!

I blew up 500 friendly Iraqis and all I got was this lousy bumper sticker.

0 to KABOOM in .2 seconds.

My 12-year-old can blow up your honor student

In case of Jihad this car will be exploded

What part of ULLULULULULULULU did you not understand?

Martyrs do it like it's their last time

My kid and YOUR money go to Gitmo Bay.

I'm Muslim but you're ugly and I can blow myself up

Baby Terrorist On Board

If you can read this, there's a car bomb in the trunk.

Fatah you looking at?

Honk if you Beat your Wife

Driver carries only $20 worth of C4

Well… city council demanded to know within thirty days what the mayor’s plan was for the closed East Station in the Heights. And judging from what he announced at his press conference today, they sure got their answer loud and clear.

WNEP capsulated the press conference quite succinctly:

Changes for Wilkes-Barre Fire Department

An overhaul is coming to Wilkes-Barre's fire department. Some stations will close, a new one will open and the department will get new equipment.

Mayor Tom Leighton understands some people won't be happy with fire stations closing near them but in the end the city will.

The department headquarters along East Ross Street will be one of three fire stations serving the city under the mayor's plan. It and one serving areas to the south will stay open. A new station will be built in the northern part of town and all other stations will close or stay closed.

The mayor was surrounded by the fire chief and firefighters as he announced a new dedication to their department. Over the next five years, funding will go from $6.5 million a year up to $10 million. With the money comes some changes.

"My concern is not for one neighborhood, but for every neighborhood," said Fire Chief Jacob Lisman. He said a new fire station will be built at Hollenback Park. When it's ready, the nearby station on Scott Street will close.

The new station will cover the north end of the city. Headquarters will cover center City and the other station will take care of the south.

"I would love to have a fire station in every neighborhood but you have to remember, this is neglect of the past," said Mayor Leighton. With the announcement the city officially closes for good two stations temporarily shut down last year, one along Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and one on East Northampton Street. Some neighbors have been fighting to keep that one open. Others in the neighborhood understand.

"I'm glad they're closing it. We don't need all of them," said city resident Al Czajkowski.

Chief Lisman also addressed equipment. There is at least one aging fire engine that is 27 years old. City money will go to buying three engines and two ambulances.

"In turn, the residents of the city and firefighters who protect us will be safer and better equipped," the mayor said.

The new equipment will be purchased over the next year. Construction is expected to start at the fire station at Hollenback Park this year.

Now, those folks in the Heights have sure fought the good fight in trying to save their neighborhood firehouse. But, at this point, they need to let it go and get on to bigger and better things.

From what I’m told, the city will acquire three new “lease-to-own” fire engines. Rescue 7, one of our newer pieces of apparatus, (1998ish?) will become our reserve piece replacing our current severely aged and less than reliable reserve pieces.

The city will buy two new ambulances.

Both South Station and Headquarters will get the new roofs, heating plants and AC units they sorely need. And a brand new fire station is to be built, this year, between the Hollenback playground and the entrance to the park will be put out to bid within a week.

$50 million dollars will be budgeted for the fire department over the course of the next five years.

But East Station, (condemned) Northeast Station (The Rain Forest) and North Station (built before horse-drawn wagons were covered) are all goners.

Predictably, there will be those who will feel compelled to dwell on whatever negatives they perceive to be present in all of this. But…(here I go pissing people off) I see no such negatives. We’ll have three firehouses which will all be well maintained for a change. We’ll have the brand new fire trucks we so desperately need and that we only yesterday thought to be well out of our financial reach for years to come. And there will be no more loose ends to squabble over.

Fairly soon, our fire department will have less operating fire houses, but they’ll have facilities that are usable and comfortable, as well as dependable fire trucks with which to do their jobs.

Rather than paying scant lip service to public safety while dispatching firemen to paint the same hydrants over and over and over again, as some mayors have done, this mayor has committed the necessary resources to make sure that our first responders have what they need to take care of business. Some of those who charge the hoses might argue that they need more manpower, too. But what city department isn’t already singing the same tune?

Will we have less firehouses? Sure we will. Has the city’s population steadily declined since the last of the coal mines went silent? Sure it has. And while the demographics of one particular neighborhood might be cited as “proof positive” that we need a fire station in said neighborhood, we need to make the absolute best use of the severely limited financial resources currently at our disposal.

And in this respect, I think the mayor has done a bang-bang job with his plan to retool our fire department. It was a tough call to make, but he made it just the same.

$50 million over a five year period!!!

I can’t wait to hear what the perpetually negative ninnies will have to say to the press. Here’s a prediction for you: Walter Griffith, King of the Know-It-All Ankle Biters, will call Sue Henry tomorrow bitching about the mayor’s plan.

He’s funny.

And speaking of predictions, Sue Henry spent a good part of her morning on WILK soliciting calls about what the mayor’s big super secret announcement might involve. And as soon as she decided to go down what should have proved to be an interesting path I figured that what I was about to be treated to would be nothing more than abject negativity on parade. And I was correct in that assumption. Sue was swamped with calls and e-mails, and god love her, she seemed to be doling out plenty of compliments to the folks who bothered. But as I toiled away through my sweaty day with headphones on, I grew increasingly annoyed with what I was hearing.

Gee whiz, NEPA. What do you think Mayor Leighton has up his sleeve?

Hey, it’s the former Wilkes-Barre DPW employee who failed his drug test on line 1!

So goober, what’s he going to announce tomorrow?

Um, I think he’s going to announce that he’s going to fix the potholes.

Wow! Sarcasm driven by bitterness. Somebody sure misses SAYSO, heyna?

And so it went. No matter what happens in this area, the mental dickheads among us just can’t bring themselves to believe that things might actually be changing ever so slightly for the better.

On a brief aside, I see potholes as a very positive development. In a way, they’re like speed bumps, only in reverse. And if they can somehow force those incensed moms driving their Astro Vans filled with kids as if they were one lap down at Daytona…that’s perfectly fine with me. If we’d all slow the fu>k down while out and about, the hospitals’ emergency rooms might not be on diversion day in and day out. Heyna?

About a week ago, a Parsons resident who fancies herself as a freedom fighter of sorts called Sue and floated the suggestion that the proceeds of the $52 (what was it called?) emergency services tax (?) were nowhere to be found. Gee, Sue. What happened to that million dollars? (Hint. Hint.) Gee, where did that money go? I don’t see any new cops anywhere. Where did that money go, Sue? Hmmm?

By the way, this would be the very same person who penned a letter to the editors of the Leader published on 6/1/2005 in which she called the loss of SAYSO a removal of our rights to free speech. In all honesty, what’s the difference between a SAYSO call and a profanity-laced prank call to the home of an elected official? If you lack the courage to attach your name to your caustic comments…then shut the f>ck up and stick to saving the trees. Or the ice shelves. Or the gerbils. Or something or other imagined to be in need of saving.

Fact is, she knew damn well when she made that call to Sue that we have ten new cops due to hit the streets of Wilkes-Barre later this month. And after a six-week training period, Wilkes-Barre’s police department will increase it’s strength by almost a full platoon.

That’s ten new cops. Ten! And what do we get on the local radio dial? Negativity and innuendo. How fu>king typical?

The mayor jumped at the chance to raise that tax and put ten new cops on the street. And what did that get him in a venue where last names are not required? More lighter fluid squirted directly onto his nuts.

One smart guy penned some novella about Tom Leighton’s giant robotic suit, ala a giant Transformer toy, in which he could swoop down from the sky and level eyesores with it’s forty-watt plasma guns, or some such “clever“ gibberish. (???) Or some such complete lunacy intended to side-step anything remotely close to guessing what positive undertaking might actually be in our immediate future. No, we wouldn’t want to suggest that good news was on it’s way when we could easily make complete horse’s asses of ourselves once again by displaying our abject negativity to the bitter end.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

You don’t know? You?

I think Leighton owes you a big scoop. It not’s like you haven’t scooped the papers many times over as it is. I can’t recall how many times I saw something here only to see it in the papers a few days later. Start bashing him and maybe he will come around and throw you a few bones.

White Christian Party member from W-B

White Christian Party!?! I still can’t even believe that Howard Dean said such a stupid, stupid thing. Wanna know the weirdest part of all of this irrational fear of bible-thumpers coming from deep, deep left field? With all of the lunatics currently running amok all over this “polluted” planet of ours, are the religious folks born-and-raised in this country really a bloc that need to be feared, castigated and “necklaced” whenever possible?

Howard Dean is the fearless leader of the mentally incontinent. He’ll be forgotten about as fast as he shot to political stardom. See? There is a god. But I digress.

No. I have no idea what Mr. Mayor is going to announce. And nobody else does either.

He said the following to WBRE last night:

This is something that we’ve been working on for the last 17 months.

17 months…hmmm…let me think. I hearken back to those depressing days when the election campaign free beers disappeared almost overnight. 17 months? The only thing I can remember being bandied about back then was his hope to eventually convince the Bethlehem MusikFest folks to bring their brand of polka magic north to Wilkes-Barre in some form or another.

MusikFest Wilkes-Barre? Would that announcement live up to the gargantuan hype he put in motion all by his lonesome? Not on your newt’s life!

Although, it’s a much better guess than anyone on WILK had to offer.

Predictably so, my work schedule, through no fault of my own, took a weird turn for tomorrow. And I might not make it back to Wilkes-Barre in time to attend the mayor’s “unbelievable” press conference.

Who knows? Maybe he finally recognized my utter brilliance and hired Cheap Trick to be Wilkes-Barre’s permanent house band. In that case, I am “THE MAN.” From here on out, the Square will be swept of bicycles (eat me) and closed to vehicular traffic every Saturday night. And then Zander and the boys will stack the Marshalls on the backside of our concrete stage and let the mega-decibels fly.

If that’s what’s in store for the lot of us…you people owe me.