7-14-2005 Much to do about nothing

When I read in both of our newspapers that the theater project was going to come in over budget I was not concerned in the least. Imagine that, cost overuns whereas a sizeable construction project is concerned. Trust me. This probably should have been fully expected, and not the shocking news it was portrayed as being. If you plan a large project while the price of a barrel of crude oil is $28 and then it shoots to $60 a barrel later on--your mother of all construction projects is guaranteed to suffer some cost overruns. You'd swear I've built something important, no?

And when Sue Henry brought the subject up on WILK, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You know, the knee-jerk negativity was just oozing all over the radio airwaves. See Frank Zappa's "I am the slime," for more on all of that.

And where did this moronic, "We shouldn't have to pay any more" mindset come from? What? If the pork dollars aren't spent on Wilkes-Barre--they won't get spent??? Are we hung over and not capable of rational thought? Get a friggin' grip already. If additional pork doesn't find it's way to Wilkes-Barre, it'll likely go to fund yet another grain silo museum in Iowa. Or, maybe a crop-duster hall of fame in Kansas. Or to remodel a bunch of long-abandoned and half-flooded ICBM silos as part of some ersatz Habitat for Humanity project meant to assist the now homeless salt miners of Yucca Mountain. We shouldn't have to pay any more?

The County is all but broke. It can't kick in any more bucks than it previously committed to the project. The city certainly can't find much extra scratch right about now. So it's not like anyone's local taxes are going to get boosted after the theater opens for business. So, for the most part, the callers to WILK were pissing in the wind whereas thinking things through is concerned. So what's changed?

Did anyone other than myself catch the following paragraph from the Voice story Downtown W-B theater project to cost more?

The Development Corp. has the resources to finish the project but plans to seek additional public funding so it doesn't limit its ability to finance other county development projects, Lohman said.

Sorry, but that's not too tough to follow for those of us that can read past the third grade level. Pardon mon francais...but the fu>king thing is already paid for.

So, where would the additional funding that all of these chamber types are seeking come from? Read on, kiddies. More from that same Voice story:

The city's redevelopment authority paid for the acquisition of several parcels for the project, including the five buildings being rehabilitated.

It also served as the applicant for Gov. Ed Rendell's Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program that contributed $5.8 million toward the project in 2004.

The economic development vehicle is not funded in the state's 2005-2006 budget.

Incorrect. The fact is, the Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program will be continued with a second round in the state's 2005-2006 budget. But as of this point, that budget hasn't been passed yet. Technically speaking, any additional Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program funds do not exist...yet. But when the '05-'06 budget is finally passed, the 2nd round of those redevelopment funds will become available to those communities smart enough to have a viable project afoot, and the smarts to apply for those funds.

Basically, both of our local newspapers missed some of the fine print somewhere. And the callers to WILK came off sounding like a bunch of negative ninnies. Again.

There is no emergency. There is no controversy to speak of. And we're gonna be watching Alien 5 in downtown Wilkes-Barre soon enough, sans a stifling tax increase as a result.

And another thing. If we hadn't been mucking about trying to save those five "historic" facades attached to those far less than historic buildings for six months, the entire theater project would be much further along than is it right now, and the temporary ticket booth would be about ready to open. We wasted a half year and Allah only knows how much money trying to prop up the collapsed unit, strip them of all abestos, lead paint and human fecal matter. Historic my ass! Next time, we bulldoze the "historic" facades and save a ton of money and time in the process!?!

Urban Planning 101? Nah. Common sense.

Sez who?

Sez me!

Gotta cut this nonsense short tonight. I was up at 3:30 this morning, and I'm beat off of my ass tonight. But I did feel a need to weigh in on this completely unnecessary theater funding brouhaha. The local press did their part by leaving out just enough facts to get the easily excitable hoi polloi spinning in place again.

What else is new?


Contact: Bridget Giunta
(570) 208-4141
July 13, 2005


Mayor Thomas M. Leighton requests the participation of residents of the City of Wilkes-Barre and its surrounding areas in planning the City’s Bicentennial Celebration. The celebration will take place during the months of June and July 2006 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Wilkes-Barre.

The Office of Special Events is looking for volunteers to serve on planning committees for the celebration, which include: Finance, History, Decoration, Invitations, Transportation/Parking, Publicity, Gala Ball, Entertainment, Marketing, Ceremonies, Program/Souvenirs, Education, Food/Beverage

“Next year’s Bicentennial Celebration is an effort to provide something fun and educational for the City of Wilkes-Barre, as well as commemorate the City’s rich tradition and heritage. I hope that everyone will participate in the planning of this event by signing up for a committee and taking part in the process. We’re all very excited about the celebration and hope that residents and visitors will be too,” said Mayor Leighton.

Anyone interested in signing up for a committee can please call the Office of Special Events at 208-4149 or 208-4141 or email the Special Events Coordinator at lmajikes@wilkes-barre.pa.us.


Contact:Bridget Giunta
(570) 208-4141
July 12, 2005


Today, Mayor Thomas M. Leighton showcased the recent improvements to the safety and aesthetics of the Bog Playground, located on Dewey Lane in Wilkes-Barre. This area, which was in disrepair, is the first of the City’s playgrounds to be rebuilt under Leighton’s “I believe… in Beautifying my Neighborhood” campaign. This campaign was launched last month in an effort to enhance the overall appearance of Wilkes-Barre, to encourage pride within the City’s neighborhoods and to reward those committed to making our City a great place to live.

In coordination with the Department of Public Works, all of the equipment in the playground has been repaired, eliminating safety concerns for users of the area.

The Mayor has committed to rebuilding other playgrounds throughout the City in an effort to renew the City’s neighborhoods, citing Dillon Street Playground and Parsons #9 Playground as the next to be renovated.

Please note that there are photos of the disrepair at the Bog included with this release.

Pay a visit to the rock.


Contact: Bridget Giunta
July 13, 2005


In conjunction with the “I believe… in Beautifying my Neighborhood” campaign, Mayor Thomas M. Leighton would like to introduce a program designed to remove unwanted vehicles from the City’s neighborhoods.

Through a partnership with L.A.G Towing and the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, the City of Wilkes-Barre will offer this service to its residents free of charge for the first month of the program, which begins on Monday, July 18, 2005 and ends on Monday, August 18, 2005.

Through this program, eyesore vehicles will be removed by L.A.G Towing and disposed of promptly and properly, with no cost to the land owner or vehicle owner during the first month. The City will also save time and money by instituting an efficient way to handle those who leave unwanted vehicles on City property or those land owners who do not remove unwanted vehicles from their property.

Removal and disposal of vehicles that are no longer wanted not only beautifies areas within the City, but also addresses health and safety concerns associated with such vehicles. There will be fewer incidences of intentional and unintentional fires, as well as the elimination of vehicles filled with garbage or animals.

After the first month of the program, removal costs will be the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle or the owner of the property on which the vehicle sits. This cost ranges from $85.00 to $150.00, depending on the type of equipment needed to remove the vehicle. In addition, a citation of $110.00 or more will be issued by the Wilkes-Barre Police Department.

Owners of unwanted vehicles or owners of land on which vehicles have been left can schedule removal of vehicles by calling Captain Riemensnyder of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department at 208-4191.

Car into building?

S. Main & Ross


Nite, nite