7-3-2005 The knaves have spoken

With the city teetering on financial disaster, it's time to trim the fat.--Christine Katsock at a city council meeting, 12/9/03

Join with me in the "fight" to stop the fighting.--Katsock for Wilkes-Barre Area School Director campaign flyer

Create a sense of pride in City residents.

Be a "watchdog" for taxes.--Katsock for Wilkes-Barre City Council campaign flyer

We are all aware of the financial instability of Wilkes-Barre. Our best estimate of City debt is placed around 51 Million dollars, and recent news releases have stated the City will end this year (2003) with an estimated shortfall between 3.5 and 7 Million dollars.

Something must be done to end the financial erosion of this city.--Katsock for Mayor campaign flyer

During her Mayoral Campaign for Wilkes-Barre, Christine introduced her Katsock Plan for Wilkes-Barre. Today, her Katsock Plan remains the blueprint for the City's bailout, and the plan's provisions continue to get approved and adopted.--Katsock for State Representative campaign flyer.

I was wrong. Being a teenager trapped in a man's body, I can't claim to being man enough to admit it, but I was wrong. When it was announced that Denise Carey would appear on The Sue Henry Show, I bravely predicted that Walter "I stand corrected" Griffith would be first in line on the blower to rip into those greedy evil-doers he so desperately seeks to replace. Activist? Or candidate? You make the call. Anyway, he was the second caller.

And true to form, thanks to your's truly, he is about to be corrected once again.

When the ill-advised Mountain Productions banner went up, he called WILK and ripped into the administration for spending what it did to pave Pennsylvania Avenue, while supposedly ignoring those poor folks on New Frederick Street. The fact is, the State of Pennsylvania paid for the paving of Penn Ave., and not the city. Oops! Walter stands corrected once again. What else is new?

And here's another nifty tidbit. The reason that New Frederick Street, as well as a few other of our most notoriously pothole-lined streets were ignored all of these years was they do not qualify for OCD funding. In other words, to pave New Frederick Street, the money would have to come directly out of the general fund. Now you know, Walter. So glad I could help to bring you up to speed.

I promised to tape the entire Denise Carey appearance, and I always deliever upon my promises. Much to my surprise, Christine Katsock, our policy wonk extraordinaire decided to tag along and build some more name recognition for herself. One of these decades, if the imploding stars collide just right; she's gonna get herself elected to some office or another. Something, anything--please!

Here's one of her rather preachy diabtribes:

Well, there was a study done by the ISO in 2002 during the McGroarty administration and that report said specifically that in order for proper fire protrection to occur as well as for insurance rates to stay reasonable, there must be 5 firehouses within the city of Wilkes-Barre. They didn't mince words about that. There must be 5. So...I mean, 5 is 5. 5 is not 3. 5 is not playing Russian roulette with peoples lives. 5 is 5.--Christine Katsock

5 divided into 5 equals 5. 5 does not mean any simularly diminitive proportions. And fractional divisons thereof are not allowed. 5! Got it? Really? Now let's re-visit reality, shall we?

The reality is, the city has met with the ISO folks since both the Northeast and East stations were closed, and the city is still in full compliance with the ISO standards. In fact, the ISO folks are pleased with the performance of our new fire chief. Sorry, but misrepresentations of the facts just aren't going to cut it here, honey.

Here's Katsock on city council's ability to spend money that was not budgeted:

Their job, granted, first and foremost, is according to the city charter is to make legislation. But if they need to make legislation that allows for more spending to fix firehouses that is well within their purview in order to do that.--Katsock on the power of city council to demand increased spending.

Which is it already? Is "the city teetering on financial disaster," or should council draft legislation designed to spend more money than what was budgeted for fiscal 2005? Somebody needs to make up their fu>king mind. What happened to, "We are all aware of the financial instability of Wilkes-Barre?" Which is it, wonkette? I say, we're either fiscally responsible, or we're not. What say you?

Something must be done to end the financial erosion of this city.--Katsock for Mayor campaign flyer

Repeat after me: Blah, blah, fu>king blah.

I'll give Denise Carey some credit. She did not come off as sounding even near as acerbic on the radio as she tends to come off at city council meetings and such. But, much like Christine, she hasn't as much as a fleeting clue as to what she's going on and on about.

So we found that there was a SAFER grant. Um, from the federal government that, um, he was encouraged strongly to apply for, and he (Mayor Leighton) said, Nah, I'm not going to. We have enough firemen.--Denise Carey

...we're not safe.--Denise Carey

From the U.S. Fire Administration press release dated June 14, 2005

The purpose of SAFER is to award grants directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase their cadre of firefighters. Ultimately, the goal is for SAFER grantees to enhance their ability to attain 24-hour staffing and thus assuring their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

The SAFER grants have two activities that will help grantees attain this goal: 1) hiring of firefighters and 2) recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

The Hiring of Firefighters activity involves a five-year grant to assist fire departments pay a portion of the salaries of newly hired firefighters. These newly hired positions must be in addition to authorized and funded active firefighter positions. Grantees must do everything in their power to maintain the number of authorized and funded positions as declared at the time of application PLUS the awarded new firefighter positions throughout the period of performance (five years). Grantees that fail to maintain this level of staffing risk losing all or a portion of their grant. Volunteer, combination, and non-profit career fire departments are all eligible to apply for assistance in hiring new firefighters. These grants require the awardee to match an increasing proportion of the salary over a four-year period; in the fifth year of the grant, the awardee must absorb the entire cost of any positions awarded as a result of the grant.

The Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters activity provides financial assistance for periods of up to four years. The purpose of these grants is to assist with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. Volunteer departments, combination departments and local or statewide organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters are eligible to apply for assistance under this activity.

The SAFER application period closes on June 28, 2005 at 5:00 PM eastern daylight time.

Apparently, in her mind, 79 full-time firefighters just isn't enough. But what she fails to realize is that by applying for a SAFER grant, the city's administration would be reneging on it's promise to slash expenses and balance the budget right now. By applying for, and then securing a SAFER grant, the city would be increasing the payroll of the fire department. A SAFER grant will pay a portion of the salaries of any newly hired firefighters, and not the entire salaries of any hoped-for newly hired firefighters.

And by claiming that the mayor said, Nah, I'm not going to. We have enough firemen," she is, in effect, twisting the facts to gain sympathy from a general public that pays much less than scant attention to financial details where city business is concerned.

In a city not teetering on financial disaster, SAFER grants make perfect sense. In a city "teetering on financial disaster," SAFER grants will only add to the overall payroll.

And then there's this ridiculous assertion that the Heights residents are no longer safe due to the abrupt closing of East Station. She made reference to the fact that Engine 4 used to baby-sit emergency medical calls until a medic unit became available. Denise, not all of us had a firehouse sitting 30 yards from our homes, okay? Ask the folks that reside on St. Clair Street if they feel a sudden loss of emergency services with the closing of East Station. Try the folks down on Gordon Avenue.

You're complaining about response times that most of us in the city would be perfectly fine with, and quite frankly, have come to expect and appreciate. If a pancreas suddenly explodes, is 4 minutes too long of a response time? Is 5 minutes too long? Does 6 minutes become an eternity? If you ask me, I think a six-minute response to any medical emergency is downright quick, if not impressive. The problem for you is, you've become accustomed to having a firehouse in your back yard, which, in these days of increased budgetary pressures, was quite the luxury.

What you're asking us to swallow is that a 5 minute response time is completely unacceptable on Northampton Street, but...that very same response time would illicit praise from the folks on nearly any other street in the most remote corners of the city.

And this "initiative & referendum" bullspit that both Denise and Christine are promoting is absolute bilge that can only prove to be counterproductive, if not devastating, in the long run. There's expenses, and then there's investments. There's leadership, and then there's mob rule. There's forward-thinking, and then there's short-sightedness. What these two are promoting is having the folks not capable of leading the city anywhere deciding what course the city should take. Their's is a fools errand likely to produce all sorts of untintended and unforeseen circumstances. But, that doesn't seem to matter to those of us that have become hopelessly inebriated by just a gulp of imagined power and self-delusional importance.

And Denise can have every single resident of the Heights sign her misguided petitions. But, if she thinks the folks in Nord End, East End, Barney Farms, Miners Mills, and Parsons want to break the proverbial bank simply to restore what the Heights once had in terms of emergency services, then I would have to suggest to her that her much-publicized battle against city hall is going to amount to little more than a well-fought losing battle.

Save My City? You're kidding, right? With hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investments about to rain down upon this city, those of you in the Heights must continue to pretend that the sky is falling? Y'all can raise whatever hell you see fit to raise. As for myself, I still prefer to err on the side of capable leadership.

Christine!?! Denise!?! Consensus is the negation of leadership. And in this city at this point in time, unfunded mandates would amount to the negation of sanity.

Something must be done to end the financial erosion of this city.--Katsock for Mayor campaign flyer

Sez her.

And...they grabbed me...and they beat me...and they told me...they don't like me...--Francis Vincent Zappa

I'm enjoying the heck out of this abnormally long holiday weekend. Yesterday, Gage, Taylor and I enjoyed a swing through Kirby Park, a visit to fire headquarters and then a jaunt through the local playground. And today, with the aforementioned mutating rodents on their way back home to Pottsville, Zachary and I set off on a somewhat similar bicyling adventure. We settled in at the pavillion at Kirby Park with some pizza in hand, watched some local band work their...er, whatever that was. And then we visited J.P. Meck's Matchbox booth and spent some money on a couple of bitchin' Matchbox bobtails. Zach so loves his big rig toys. We cruised to the middle of the bridge, stopped and watched some fisherman casting away from a john boat, before heading on over to the Square.

And then it started.

That purplish/red helmet started banging back and forth off of my forearms. Zach always seems to be up for the next exciting bikeabout. The only problem being that he doesn't stay up for too long at all. Still and all, how many toddlers can you think of that take afternoon naps while bouncing around the city on a mountain bike? Weird, very weird.


Hey. We blew up a whole slew of Chinese fireworks last night, and get this...most of it was legal. Well, most of it was.

But don't hold me to that high standard throughout the remainder of this holiday weekend.

From the e-mail inbox "I don't want to come off as sounding selfish, but I'm working on a banner that says,"I'll Believe When Cheap Trick Plays At My Block Party." .....

LMAO you should as a joke!

I know. Better yet, how 'bout, "I'll believe when the canopy is re-erected on Thompson Street?" No?

While some folks are demanding that two fire engines be stationed in their back yards, all I'm asking for is Cheap Trick and the only street in the city covered by a canopy. Is that too much to ask?

Gage and his favorite fireman

Wanna know what? Some of you goobers need to get off of our mayor's back already. Get off of his back! Do you have any idea what he's going through? Do you? Do you realize how completely far the Fighting Irish have fallen of late? Go easy, kiddies. He's suffered enough.


Have a good one. When we get together next, we'll share stories of what it was like to watch a finger of two being blown to smithereens. Hopefully, that is.

Don't be a fool and die for your country. Let the other sonofabitch die for his.--General George S. Patton

Here! Here!