7-24-2005 Zach's 2nd birfday

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.--Australian Prime Minister John Howard

Here! Here!

Iím fed up trying to be politically correct with every statement I make about crime and crime victims. The politically incorrect fact is if youíre out at 3 a.m. on South Main Street looking to commit a crime, and something bad happens to you, itís too bad.--Gerry Dessoye Wilkes-Barre police chief

I love it!!! Maybe he should tell us what he really thinks.

He is, of course, 101% correct with that line of thinking. It reminds me of these poor, poor innocent guys that spent 20 years on death row only to be released after some DNA evidence proved that they were not guilty of executing those two cops. Okay, they didn't actually pull the trigger. But...they were there. And if they weren't there...

So, if you don't wish to be wrongly convicted of executing police officers, or anyone else for that matter, don't pal around with the lawless folks that would think nothing of executing the folks they encounter while conducting illegal activities.

And if you would prefer to not be assaulted by, raped by, or shot by the lawless idiots of the world, then don't frequent their usual lairs.

From the Times Leader exclusive:

ďI am not blaming the victim. Iím advising the victim that a change in their habits could prevent this crime. If a female goes to buy drugs in a drug house, chances are something bad is going to happen to you eventually. Youíll get raped, stabbed, shot, overdose or get ripped off.Ē

If his comments sound harsh, Dessoye said he doesnít care.

ďOur efforts are to make the city safe for law-abiding residents and visitors. Iím not going to offer escorts into high-drug areas so an addict can come in from out of town and buy their dope. ... Iím more concerned about making sure the college girl can walk safely between classes and up South Main Street and have nothing happen to her.Ē

One of the many adults in charge has spoken!

As for myself, I'm so completely fearful of violent crime, (NOT!) I ride my bicycle wherever I want, whenever I want and whatever time of day I want. Crime in Wilkes-Barre is up 39%? Yawn.

We've got ten new cops on the street and another one on the way. We'll be alright.

Sez me.

Birfday Boy

We had us one bitch-slapper of a party here at the adobe last night. It's official. Zach is now 2-years-old. He found himself buried in huge Tonkas and Thomas the Train goodies, and despite a bit of reluctance early on, he handled being the center of attention quite nicely.

We had ourselves copious amounts of good food, alcohol, music and imported, illegal pyrotechnic devices, which we put a match to. Let's put it this way. We had so much freaking fun, I was all but forced to buy 125 feet of garden hose to clean up the street early this morning.

So Zach is 2-years-old, and everyone, save me, slept in this morning.

Party on!!!

According to the Party Animals headline in the Voice this morning, Mayor's "I believe' [sic] becomes a two-edged slogan.

That it has. And it's really unfortunate. Initially, I thought comments such as the following that I snatched from that factually-challenged Save My City web site were typical of the bilge that the mentally vapid folks who would freak if their taxes were raised while demanding that the status quo that we can no longer afford remain in place forever. You know...dummies. Your average voter.

Anonymous said...

I Believe... one term is enough!

11:22 PM

Isn't that clever? I believe...it'd take a fire truck 5-6 minutes to arrive at the mayor's house. Duh!!! But on Northampton Street, 5-6 minutes is "Not acceptable!" Whatever! Needless controversy perpetuated by those who hope to benefit in a political sense.

And then we had this letter to the editors of the Voice published much earlier today:

Mayor Leighton was on council when ex-mayor McGroarty had dreams. McGroarty worked hard but in his last term, Tom Leighton decided he wanted to be mayor.

Most of council worked against McGroarty and nothing was accomplished. Now Mayor Leighton said in his "I believe" speech, "If we embrace the negative attitude, we are not only failing the city, but we are failing ourselves."

The streetlights aren't up. "That all takes time," said Leighton. We should have a theater now, but don't, because the site on South Washington didn't have a way for emergency vehicles to get in and out. What has changed in that time, with the state office building going up in its place?

The mayor should worry about filling the empty stores downtown instead of the strip mall on South Main. Save the Planters Peanuts Building and make a museum as Jim McCarthy suggested. There are all kinds of museums in cities to bring visitors.

I hope Mayor Leighton succeeds with the dreams McGroarty had, and never finished, as Mayor Leighton didn't believe.

Loris Saracino

Think of that excrement what you will, but I doubt that I need to highlight what I think of that swill. The misguided author has apparently forgotten all about that $10.4 tax anticipation note that was required just to pay off most of Tom McGroarty's unpaid bills for all of his various and sundry unkept promises of progress. If I was forced to venture a guess, I'd bet that the author of that wishy-washy garbage resides within two minutes driving time of East Station, or is related to someone else who does.

Anyway...initially, I thought that only the adults that grew up here chewing on culm and expecting nothing at all from their elected blowhards were the source of all of this unbridled negativity--this defeatist attitude of ours--this numbskull's view of the world from their comfy chair--this parade of negative myrmidons that offer us little more than their vision of why the good times can never roll in this long-depressed area.

But last night my intelligent and upwardly mobile niece noticed the "I believe" magnets plastered to my front door, looked at me and said, You believe? Do you? Really? She seemed shocked to see such a thing smartly displayed on my front door, and she immediately launched into a litany of complaints with Wilkes-Barre as we currently find it.

I mistakenly tried to explain the nuts-and-bolts of the political goings-on and why our current mayor needs to curtail the spending despite the fact that buildings are being erected in our downtown. She was under the impression that if the city could build theaters and such, it could afford to do just about anything else that needs to be done. I made her aware of the city's current financial shortcomings and the five year plan that would restore the city's financial status to that which it was before the boy wonder mayor spent us into darn near oblivion.

And she eventually left the unusually boisterous adobe with an "I believe" button and an "I believe" keychain in tow. She had requested an "I believe" magnet, but I couldn't find one as wifey took it upon herself to re-arrange all of my nifty sh*t in advance of this killer party of ours.

Fact is, we need Justine. We need these younger folks to believe, stick around and stake their claims here. But, she's barely 20-years-old and she's already had it beaten into her head that this city and this entire area sucks and is beyond all repair. She's wrong on all accounts. And she left here hoping that my optimistic view of the city's future is on the mark. Rather than drinking that purple Kool-Aid that all of our younger folks are supposedly faced with if they stay here, the seeds of optimism were planted in her seemingly limitless mind. Patience, babe. Hang in there. Culm County's despair wasn't built in a day.

I gotta find those friggin' magnets.

Like culm sands through the fractured hourglass...so goes the negativity.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark!

Sorry I haven't written in a while, but as usual I've been up at the cabin making big messes. Put a new roof on the back, knocked out the back wall and put in a new window and a patio door, got the A.C. going today ( a bit late). As a result I'm way out of the loop and have no idea as to what's going on lately. So who's behind that "Save My City" site? Some familiar faces were in one pic, but I don't want to jump to conclusions.

And what about the $50 million for the F.D.? Has the Mayor given you any specifics? The buzz around work is that there's no way those numbers could be right unless the Mayor is adding in the pension plan. Even some of the brass are saying that. So can you bring me up to speed?

I'm on vacation right now. Nope, not making the annual camping trip this year. The wife says I have too much work to do. So I'll be swinging the hammer for the next 2 weeks. Maybe I'll get to sneak out and ride the bike a bit. She can't watch me all the time!



P.S.: What did you think of those sound tracks?

Dude! Those tracks were cool and greatly appreciated. The Rutles rule even though, technically, they do not exist. I know what you're saying about not writing and stuff. I, too, find myself busy with fun summertime goings-on and write less than I used to. Some see that as a good thing. Actually, I really don't feel a need to on many days as the political dragon that needed slaying has been long since slayed.

As far as that web site is concerned, ya got me as to who is sniping from behind the curtain, but they need to do a bit more than reading fire-related sites and then telling us how the city should spend it's limited resources. And if they think they're going to curry favor with the voters by complaining about above average response times that many other cities strive for...well, they are adding nothing substantial to the on-going debate. Whatever. Even the rhetorically maladroit swerving hard towards being apoplectic serve a purpose. I suppose.

Has the Mayor given me any specifics? Um...no, but I'm fairly certain I could get some being that the fire department's budget is a matter of public record. And whether anyone wants to believe it or not, I really don't talk to the guy very often. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to, as I find him as likeable as he is committed to changing Wilkes-Barre's once sagging fortunes. It's just that the guy is usually so frickin' busy, I feel somewhat guilty just by leaving him a voice mail message. I imagine the last thing he needs is another jerk raggin' on his ass.

Is the pension plan included in that $50 million over five years magic number of his? Ya got me, but I sure as hell hope so. People need to understand the enormity of the dollars involved in running this troubled podunk of ours. I think that number he floated speaks volumes about his constant attention to the bottom line. The current fiscal year's payroll, and the money committed to acquiring new equipment in the not so distant future barely scrathes the surface as far as the overall cost of maintaining the excellent emergency services we happen to enjoy is concerned. The firefighters that have long since retired do have a direct impact on the overall size and capabilities of our present day fire department, and to pretend otherwise is beyond foolish.

Can I bring you up to speed? I seriously doubt it. But I can tell you that the vast majority of folks out here in the private sector are always quick to forget the benefits they are afforded much beyond their salaries. They incessantly bitch about their schedules and they bitch about their paychecks when they happen to fall well short of the hoped-for expectations. But health care, retirement plans, profit sharing and bonuses are never bitched about. They are but foregone conclusions for the average employee. Yet, they still have to be paid for by the employer. And they have to be paid for by the City of Wilkes-Barre. So why shouldn't they be included in the mix when the politico grappling for ways to pay for it all tries to impress upon us the near financial lethality of the services that we have taken for granted for well too long?

Do we want 80 copper dudes and 80 hose dudes on the payroll? Yeah? Well, it's expensive. I think that's what he was eluding to with his $50 million over five years reference. Then again, I didn't talk to him directly, so take all of this for what it's worth.

Dude...enjoy what remains of your vacation. Enjoy your rebounding city. Enjoy them, there Rutles. And most importantly, enjoy your family. We only get to do this thing once, so enjoy the heck out of each moment of it. Oh, and, send me some more tunes, will you?

Now, hit that bike.

The rodents

From the e-mail inbox Paramedics will turn to a victim's cell phone for clues to that person's identity. You can make their job much easier with a simple idea that they are trying to get everyone to adopt: ICE.

ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. If you add an entry in the contacts list in your cell phone under ICE, with the name and phone no. of the person that the emergency services should call on your behalf, you can save them a lot of time and have your loved ones contacted quickly. It only takes a few moments of your time to do. Paramedics know what ICE means and they look for it immediately.

ICE your cell phone NOW!

The following comments from one of those first responders we rely upon when things go very bad were attached to this e-mail:

Sounds like a good idea on the surface, but not at all practical. First, most people keep their cell phones on lock while caring them in public. On most, if not all cell phones, you can not access the call directory while in the locked mode. Then if the phone is lost, they are only out the cost of the phone and do not have to be hassled with a cell bill with calls to China and Africa! Secondly, if the person is so sick, injured or unconscious, the last thing we are worried about is their identity via a cell phone! It would be MUCH better if everyone kept some type of identity on them at all times, and maybe one emergency contact written in their wallet of purses. Their pockets and their purses are the FIRST place police and ambulance personnel will look.


I'm still trying to figure out where all of this waterfront "economic development" will eventually manifest itself after Uncle Paul Kanjo forces this deflatable dam nonsense upon the lot of us unsuspecting and unknowledgeable victims.

From Uncle Paul's June 29, 2000 press release:

In 1996, I convinced President Clinton to approve 75% federal funding for the construction of an inflatable dam, estimated to cost about $14 million. Gannett-Fleming estimates that constructing an inflatable dam would lead to an annual economic benefit to the area of at least $4 million each year and possibly as much as $70 million each year, depending on how many additional improvements are made to the waterfront. Boating marinas, a visitors center, an outdoor amphitheater, biking and hiking paths have all been proposed by numerous organizations to enhance the waterfront. I have been working with the Luzerne County Commissioners, the state legislators, the City of Wilkes-Barre, the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, and numerous private interests who recognize the value of the Susquehanna River and want to improve it.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, and the surrounding communities will grow and attract additional private investments if the inflatable dam is completed. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom McGroarty has expressed his strong support for the inflatable dam for this very reason.

From Uncle Paul's April 13, 2005 press release:

The initial award winning Gannett-Fleming study issued in the spring of 2000 indicated that a dam is economically feasible and found no insurmountable reason why the dam should not be environmentally feasible as well. That study projected that the dam will be a tremendous financial asset to the Wyoming Valley, attracting between 200,000 and 400,000 visitors a year and generating annual revenues of as much as $70 million in economic activity along the Riverfront.

The Gannett-Fleming study also recommended that a plan be developed to eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the Susquehanna. That recommendation has served as a basis for action in recent years.

In a word, where? Where will they build this valley's version of Disneyland? Along the dike opposite Barney Farms? In Kirby or Nesbitt Park? Or just south of there where it floods every single time someone takes a wicked piss? I understand that this guy has been wading through the political swamp for two decades now, but I fail to see how his dogged determination whereas this stupid deflatable dam of his is concerned will convert oft-flooded, low-lying swamps into anything more than what they are at this point.

Where? Please 'splain it to me because I don't get it.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom McGroarty has expressed his strong support for the inflatable dam for this very reason.

Yikes! Need a bigger red flag?

I gotta roll. It's been a busy half-weekend. Zach is 2-years-old and his little brother joins the family fray come December. Four years ago, I had no grandchildren at all. These days, they are coming out of every crack and crevice possible. If this is what growing old has to offer, count me in. I'm game.