7-17-2005 If we'd all been livin' in...

I am deeply concerned about the failure - indeed, outright refusal - of our military and civilian leaders to hold higher-ups accountable.--Ted Kennedy in response to allegations of "lingerie torture" at Gitmo beach.

Kurt Shotko, this area's one-and-only professional protestor, told Sue Henry of WILK that to become responsible citizens we need to give up our baseball and beer. Much to the consternation of this woefully inadequate citizen, I pay those folks at Service Electric 84 bucks a month for a gazillion television channels and I am treated to a televised baseball game about as often as I am a shuttle launch. I guess the beer will have to do.

Baseball? Are they still doing that? I turned on ESPN on a recent Saturday afternoon only to find a line of people trying not to projectile vomit a few dozen hoddogs. When I do happen to visit ESPN 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7, all I ever see is a bunch of people playing cards. And when I spread open the sports section of the Voice, more often than not, the big stories are Michelle Wie, (the teen phenom who almost won something once) or even more folks playing cards. Then again, there is Comcast for those of us still hoping against hope that the Phillies won't fade into pennant race oblivion once again. But taking in a Phils game is akin to watching a field mouse desperately trying to climb back out of an in-ground swimming pool after accidentally slipping into it. It ain't happenin'.

When it comes to following one's baseball team, the best bargain going is the MLB.com internet radio deal. For a measly $14 per season, you can listen to any game you like seven days a week. So, when TBS is showing some Desperate Sluts rerun, I've got the 'spensive 'puter on and I'm listening to the Braves games. Remember, I'm older than those freakin' canopies, so I have no need of a glitzy television for the purposes of taking in a baseball game. It wasn't so long ago that curling up next to the radio and taking in a ball game was the norm.

And if I may, I was under the distinct impression that obeying the law, and respecting the others and their properties around us was being a responsible citizen. Who knew that trying to disrupt a St. Patty's day parade was the ticket to the responsible citizen hall of fame? Oh well.

I guess I'll have to add to the world's misery later today. I've got Kevin Harvick starting in the top ten, Mike Hampton facing Pedro Martinez on the internet and lots of cold beer.


I snagged a good chunk of the Voice story Wilkes-Barre council asks apportionment panel to redraw districts.

Wilkes-Barre council asks apportionment panel to redraw districts

By James Conmy and Edward Lewis, Staff Writers 07/15/2005

An apportionment commission tasked with reshaping Wilkes-Barre's political future in 2002 has been asked by city council to reconvene in order to possibly amend or create new boundaries.

The commission's chairman, Attorney John P. Moses, plans to contact the other five members to determine whether to honor council's request or stand by a political subdivision approved in 2002. Marge Davison-Matisko, Paul DeFabo, Richard Gazenski, Paul Maher and Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly make up the rest of the commission.

In a July 1 letter to Assistant Wilkes-Barre Solicitor William Vinsko, Moses says, "... I will be consulting with my board in order to determine if I will be able to reconvene the committee or to submit a new letter."

Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid read excerpts of Moses' letter Thursday at a county Board of Elections meeting. Moses was responding to a June 15 letter from Vinsko.

In his letter, Vinsko cites allegations made about a commission meeting violating the state Sunshine Act, as well as the districts' configuration, as reasons to reconvene.

"It is my belief that we can resolve this matter merely by holding a meeting of the current commission and allow the public input on the plans, possible discussion of re-evaluating the districts or taking whatever road you deem appropriate," Vinsko wrote.

One commission member, Charles Flannery, has since died. One of three alternates, Christine Katsock, Todd Kline or Harold Phoenix, would take Flannery's spot.

Excuse me for being blunt, but wouldn't it be a major, major conflict of interest to have Christine Katsock involved in reapportioning the voting districts in this city? While I realize she is not now a declared candidate for any elected position in this city, she is still out there building name recognition every day. Why would someone from the farthest corner of Miners Mills glom onto the well-publicized Heights firehouse brouhaha unless they had a personal agenda? You know, designs on an elected office.

The way I hear it, she thinks with a severely split vote up yonder this way, she can defeat all three of our most northern city councilmen and grab herself a much-coveted seat on council. For a person that continually demands transparency from our political gladiators, the only responsible move would be to recuse herself from further consideration.

Sez me.

Now we'll explore a snippet from the Times Leader exclusive, State job could have McGroarty in area.

Posted on Sat, Jul. 16, 2005

State job could have McGroarty in area exclusive

Former Wilkes-Barre mayor is a finalist for an emergency preparedness position in area.

By BRETT MARCY bmarcy@leader.net

HARRISBURG – Former Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom McGroarty appears poised to return to work in the city he ran for eight years – this time as an emergency preparedness coordinator that would put him in contact with the state’s nine Regional Counter-Terrorism Task Forces.

McGroarty, who has been commuting for more than a year to his job with the state Department of Health in Harrisburg, is among two candidates vying for a vacant position in the department’s Northeast District office in Wilkes-Barre.

Health Department spokesman Richard McGarvey confirmed McGroarty and one other applicant have applied for the job. “It’s not a done deal yet. A final selection hasn’t been made.”

Still, several signs point to McGroarty filling the post. Receptionists at the Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg offices said McGroarty was expected to leave his current position for the job within the next few weeks.

McGroarty did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

If hauling sandbags all over the county, plastering Radio Shack antennas all over a truck, converting half of a soda pop truck into an emergency response trailer, instructing DPW workers to attend to a medical emergency, and coming perilously close to losing a hovercraft and both of it's occupants to raging waters qualifies one for being an expert in emergency preparedness, then I guess the state has got the right guy for this position.

Trust me, if the mother of all killer storm cells was headed for a direct hit on Wilkes-Barre, this is the very last guy I would want calling any of the shots. I'm picturing an immediate mobilization of all of the valley's forklifts. No? Well, he did lead us through the Great Flood of '96, but what choice did he have? He was the mayor. That was his freaking job!

Apparently the folks that run this state have a very short memory. Go figure! Some folks can't handle even a taste of power, and I'm here to tell you that our probable emergency preparedness coordinator will most likely revert to his previous form in the event of an actual emergency.

Want proof? Okay, let's do it.

Who was it that recently interfered with city firemen while attempting to respond to a motor vehicle accident with injurues? Any takers? Who unnecessarily delayed the first responders while demanding to see proof of EMT certification? Anyone? Take a wild guess. Who had to be brushed aside so that the injured could be tended to? C'mon, guess. Who was it that caused an incident report to be generated? And who was it that had that incident report forwarded to his higher ups at the state? Anyone wanna take a shot? Anyone?

If you lay broken in your twisted, steaming wreck of a car, would you rather have the first responders springing from their trucks to assist you? Or would you prefer to have them standing in line while the all-knowing emergency guru checks their paperwork?

Stay tuned. Irrational exhuberance bordering on mania just might be making a comeback in this area.

Sez me.

Can you even imagine how utterly embarrassing it would be to be caught on videotape taking a sledgehammer to a neighborhood wall after you personally called the media and accused the city's administration of allowing that same wall to crumble?

Stay tuned.

This is different. The following e-mail was posted here on September 5, 2002. Someone, not the original sender, dug it up in cyberspace and sent it along again with the question being how has Tom Leighton addressed some of these percieved ills. Interesting.

From the e-mail inbox ***Mark,

I had a minor discussion with my co-workers the other day, about the reasons people are leaving our once great city. Some valuable points were made that won't add up to a hill of beans, and so I thought Id take it a step further. I spoke with my "out of town" friends and asked one simple question: Why did you leave?

There is no single answer. Each respondent gave several examples of his/her reasons and choice to leave. Contrary to the Mayor's latest claim that high taxation is the key to W-B's urban flight. But each touched on familiar ground. Let's take a look.

1. Crime. The number one concern. All respondents feared for their personal safety as well as the security of their homes and possessions. They believe their children aren't safe. Drugs are everywhere. Each claimed that their neighborhoods had been taken over by low-lifes in rental units. All sited examples of crimes perpetrated against them ranging from B&E to assault. Petty crimes were most prominent.

2. Elbow room. All claimed that the city is too crowded. That the close proximity of the neighboring property is unappealing. In some neighborhoods, you can't even walk between the houses. These folks all wanted a buffer zone between them and the guy next door. Or more correctly, between them and the scum bag next door.

3. Schools. All of the people I spoke to had attend a W-B area school. Having done so, they have no confidence in the educational prowess of the teachers at any level. Most blame the nepotistic hiring practices of the school board as the leading cause to the downward spiral.

4. Taxation. It is generally agreed that the county taxes aren't a real issue as each person I spoke with resides within the county. However, W-B Area school taxes were a major complaint. Combine school taxes with the lack of confidence in the school system, and you have some very disgruntled former residents.

The sheer number of individual taxes levied by the city, county, and school district is another issue. While most agreed that there is no problem with property taxes or income taxes, there are too many nuisance taxes, fees, etc., ( WVSA fees, garbage and recycling, blue garbage bags, right to work tax, etc.). The total number of taxes and fees is overwhelming. And nobody knows where their money is being spent.

5. Political corruption/oppression. Of the ten former residents I spoke to, all complained that the current political system is out of whack. Each had a story of how their politically connected neighbor put an addition on or made other improvements to their home without any permits, or that their neighbor was severely under taxed by comparison, or that they were in fear of some form of retribution by the powers that be if they speak up. All believe that the local politicos are morally and ethically bankrupt. And that everyone in W-Bs government is on the take from the building inspector to the mayor. And most importantly, they felt powerless to do anything about it.

Bear in mind that none of the folks I spoke to are particularly educated or informed. But all shared the same complaints. Whether their beliefs are real or imagined is irrelevant. The commonality of their opinions lends credibility and encourages more flight. So what do we do now? How do fix the problems? Will any candidate address these concerns in the next election cycle? I doubt it.

I'd like to know what you think. And, should you choose to post this on your website, what your readers think. Talk to you later.***

From the e-mail inbox Kayak Dude (djw@XXXXXXXXXX.com) has sent you an item from http://www.wnep.com/

Imagine what a mouthful of Lake Kanjo water will do!

From WNEP.com

Some swimmers at Beltzville State Park in Carbon County have gotten sick. Now a bacteria is blamed for the illness.

Five people contracted shigellosis, an illness that causes flu-like symptoms. Nine other have symptoms and are waiting for lab tests.

The beach at the park remains open. The park manager said the level of bacteria is within acceptable limits.

A spokesperson for the state department of health said shigellosis is caused by bacteria from fecal material and you get it from swallowing unclean water.

A camp supervisor said the children are told not to use the lake as a toilet.

"We talk to them about it, so they know if they need to use the bathroom they usually always go up there as far as I know," said Hidden Lake Camp Supervisor Dan Maciag.

"I teach them that even if they're in the water, regardless of being in the water they have to use the bathroom in the toilet," said Norma Navarro of Allentown.

The park manager said parents should make sure their children's diapers are securely fastened and it's best to use the water-proof kind.

Okay, so it's very, very important that we not relieve ourselves while whoopin' it up in Lake Kanjo. Ooops! Too late. We already did, didn't we?

Maybe Commander McGroarty and his Flying Sandbaggers can stave off an outbreak of shigellosis armed only with half a soda pop dingy? Maybe we should post some signs on the edge of the lake which would read as follows: Welcome to Lake Kanjo: No peeing and no swallowing allowed.

As Francis Vincent Zappa was so fond of pointing out, It can't happen here.

Here's a snippet of an e-mail I received from our governor:

From the e-mail inbox Growing Greener II provides $625 million that will enable us to:

clean up rivers and streams; restore abandoned mines and contaminated industrial sites; and finance the development and deployment of advanced energy projects;
preserve natural areas and open spaces; improve state parks; and enhance local recreational needs;
protect working farms;
revitalize communities through investments in housing and mixed-use redevelopment projects;
repair fish hatcheries and aging dams; and to undertake habitat-related facility upgrades and repairs.

Undertake habitat-related facility upgrades and repairs???

How so? By building a freakin' dam???

If fish could vote...

Since the administration of this city seems so eager to remove the junk cars dotting our landscape, I called one of our police captains so as to inquire about how we could remove an abandoned bondo buggy from my neighborhood. She never got back to me, but I imagine she's got a full plate to deal with before getting around to me. No biggie.

Anyway, we've got an abandoned car rotting away in the Saber Room parking lot, but no one is really at fault in this case. A former tenant of the apartment above the eatery moved away and left the car behind. It sits on the property of the Saber Room, but the owner of said property does not own it. Recently, the teenagers renting one side of the double block directly behind that derelict vehicle took to beating on it with a baseball bat. Well, that is, when they're not busy piling their household garbage on the side of the place.

My request is a simple one. I want that eyesore of a car removed from the edge of one our busier thoroughfares, that's all. I want a small dose of gentrification delivered to my neck of the woods.

Thank you.

Saber Room parking lot

In full view for all to see

It has been reported that Eminem is all but ready to retire.

I'm beyond distraught.

If we'd all been livin' in Deliverance Falls...none of this bunkum would have made our radar screens.

You sure got a pretty mouf.