4-23-2004 30,000 pounds...of Progress

You don't professionalize unless you federalize.--Senator Tom Daschle.

Scary. People actually voted for this gnome. South Dakota. It's lone export is snow and it's chief import is snow. It's state flag should have a snowball on it or something. Who said those folks should be able to vote?

This just in from our intrepid reporter who shall go nameless:


Not sure if you heard the news yet but the Gov brought Wilkes-Barre 3 checks. $560,000 for rennovations to police headquarters, $1,000,000 for street lights and a whopping $5,875,000 for the South Main Project.

Also the white globe on top of the Commonwealth building belongs to digital globe, a small but high tech firm that located to the area a few months ago. It downloads satalite data containing digital imaging from around the world. Here's their site: Digital Globe

See you at the clean up.


Satellites? You're mucking with my proctologic regions, right? This is Wilkes-Barre, man. We don't do satellites. Hell. According to today's papers, we just got our very first all-nude big tittie bar. Who says the Chamber of Commerce isn't bringing new businesses into this area? But satellites? I'm kidding! Chill! I don't want Larry Newman to toss his paperweight at the wall anytime soon. I still think someone is going to grow pot in that dome.

And I did enjoy your observation this afternoon. The elected folks in Wilkes-Barre Township brought all of their power (?) to bare down on Chuck E. Cheeze over a liqour license, but they failed to notice that a big-time big tittie bar was about to open right down the street. Can you say MAROONS? The folks that run that pint-sized township are the luckiest elected officials this side of Cucamonga Canyon. They had huge tracks of available land and Kevin Blaum, who would not be denied until that arena and that new exit off of 81 were built. And what did the elected folks up there on smoke hill do? They rubber-stamped everyone else's hard work.

And then there's Governor Ed "Speedy" Rendell. To be painfully honest about it, I wasn't sure what to make of this guy for the longest time. And I'm also a bit prejudiced when it comes to any mayor from Philthydumpia making claims that he improved that city that I so completely loathe. But I do remember his oft-repeated campaign pledge to do whatever he could to revitalize the dying downtowns across Pennsylvania. And since his ascendancy to Harrisburg, I hoped against hope that this professional politician actually meant what he said, that he would actually deliver what he promised where 99% of politicians never really do. And today, he rolled that horrible looking bus of his directly into Luzerne County and did just that. He delivered upon his campaign promises.

Hazleton has been making great strides of late and Rendell gave them a nice stipend. Pittston has also been making steady progress these days and Rendell gave them a boost also. But what Rendell did for Wilkes-Barre today was beyond reproach. Putting all of our past, mostly ghastly mistakes aside, if Wilkes-Barre was ever going to rebound rather quickly, Wilkes-Barre needed outside financial help. And Rendell provided us with about as much help as any small city could ever dare to hope for. He gave us that much-needed financial nudge and now the rest is entirely up to us. It's our show from here on out. We either see to it that Wilkes-Barre becomes a success story the likes of which no urban planner has ever seen, or we squander the second chance we were given today. I am supremely confident that we as a community are up to the challenges that lie ahead of us. There needs to be one proviso though: Politics has to take a back seat to progress.

We already know that seemingly all concerned on the elected side of the equation now understand that cooperation and teamwork is what we need the most if Wilkes-Barre is going to become the vibrant place that many of us believe it can become. Lately, it's been a lovefest of sorts around here. The elected folks, the business folks, the Chamber folks, and even some of us common folks are all doing what we can to improve our situation. And things need to stay that way. If this city becomes a model of progress for others to one day study, there will be enough credit to go around for everyone involved. We don't need anyone seeking hero status when the cranes finally dominate our downtown landscape. We need our community leaders to remain focused on the next hurdle that needs to be cleared. And we need for our loose cannons to cool their jets already. Give it up, Walt. Most of us are disgusted by your childish antics.

If you reside in this city, you really should feel good about what happened today, regardless of any brick and mortar exercises yet to come. Where once our former mayor traded insults with the former governor of this state, now our new mayor hosts a new governor bearing some rather weighty financial gifts. Wilkes-Barre, recently known as the asshole of the state might well become the jewel of the Northeast corner of the state. There's plenty of work still to be done, but I have confidence in the people making the decisions at this point. I really do.

And some of mostly unrecognizable folks should also take a bow for our crucial contributions to Wilkes-Barre's suddenly upbeat attitude and future prospects. I'll remind you as to why.

Make Checks Payable To: Leighton for Mayor


Hey, Tommy McGroarty! You takin' f**kin' notes? Watch and learn, Pal.

SNAKE and I hooked-up this afternoon and I was treated to a tour of Around Town Bicycles, our new bike shop located directly behind Musical Energi on North Main street, in the former Schmidt's Printery building. The shop is owned by Tom Jones. No! not the Welsh crooner with the socks in his pants. I didn't get to talk to Tom as long as I would have liked, but he did treat me to a tour of the ancient building and he also shocked me by telling me about "Grundik."

No Murrays here

If I got all of this straight, before the Schmidt's Printery operation called that place home, this building was once home to a Polish-language newspaper called "Grundik" who's target audience was Polish-American coal miners and their families. Be warned though, SNAKE is a prankster extraordinaire. For all I know, that building may have once been home to a cattle prod factory, but I don't believe that Tom would have gone along with any of SNAKE's tomfoolery whereas his new business is concerned. As a matter of fact, SNAKE and I found ourselves at the Ramada around one o'clock, and we had already thoroughly discussed the merits of whether he should scream "GUN!" when Ed Rendell finally arrived. SNAKE warned me not to dare him and I didn't, and that is the only reason the big honcho luncheon went off without a single hitch.

Anyway, there are some truly amazing bikes sitting in that building. Don't tell wifey, but one Giant well within my price range caught my eye and it will eat at me until I finally end up riding it around this valley. There's the lowly Sprawl-Mart, and then there's quality craftsmanship. The service that this bike shop offers that is totally unique in these parts is the service provided by Rich Adams. Rich will build the bike of your dreams from scratch completely on-site. He said it takes him about a week to build one of his signature bikes. I got a real close look at one of his creations and it's next to impossible to even find evidence of any welds on the frame. They are seamless. He works his magic in the lower level of the building. There's enough machinery down there to repair the rusting Russian Fleet.

The secret lab

The guys at Main Bike World in Kingston have always been nothing but good to me and I would never disparage their business in any way. But...as we should all know by now, I live in Wilkes-Barre and I shop in Wilkes-Barre. Therefore, Around Town Bicycles is now my preferred destination for all things bicycles and luckily for me as well as all of yous, it's a gem in the rough.

I caught this quote from Ed Rendell on WBRE this evening:

People want clean, safe and fun.

Compare that to what I've always said Wilkes-Barre needed to become:

Clean, neat and safe.

Neat? Fun? What's the difference? You don't suppose that all of his best ideas are the result of his having read this site, do ya? I made him what he is today!!! He'd be nothing without me!!! Heh...maybe not. But we are on the same wavelength. Clean, neat, safe, fun, I vote for all of the above.

The only thing that still rankles me about this guy is that he spurned my gratious invite to last year's Thompson Street Block Party. Fool.

Stretch me. Stretch me. You single ladies had better take a look at this one before looking for Mr. Goodbar.

Can shoe size predict penile length?

Department of Urology, St. Mary's Hospital, London, UK. jyoti.shah@ic.ac.uk

OBJECTIVE: To establish if the 'myth' about whether the size of a man's penis can be estimated from his shoe size has any basis, in fact. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two urologists measured the stretched penile length of 104 men in a prospective study and related this to their shoe size. RESULTS: The median stretched penile length for the sampled population was 13 cm and the median UK shoe size was 9 (European 43). There was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length. CONCLUSION: The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis.

I have to share this with ya'll. It was my idea to have the Ehrlich employees clean Kirby Park last year. So what? Ideas are easy to spew. My company, much to it's credit, paid us to clean that park on that day. Not many employers would do such a noble thing. The stated purpose was to give something back to a community that supported our company for over 75 years. We weren't alone that day. Our forty-plus offices all targeted a worthy project, closed for one day, and had at it in their communities. Again, not many companies would even bother.

The entire undertaking left many of us feeling good about ourselves as a company and it was decided that our individual offices should feel free to continue to give something back to our local communities. Back at the shop, we discussed quite a few worthy projects, but it was decided that we would "adopt" the grassy median strips on Penn Avenue for the foreseeable future. And there were a few of us that felt we should not donate our time and efforts to a municipality over a non-profit operation. Under normal circumstances, I would have jumped on that bandwagon.

But the fact of the matter is, Wilkes-Barre has been good to us and we in turn have been good for Wilkes-Barre. And being that Wilkes-Barre's fortunes have sagged a bit as of late, the call went out for those of us that have a vested interest in this city to get more involved in reversing it's fortunes. And Ehrlich has answered that call to arms.

The clean-up at Kirby Past last summer was much easier for us. All that we had to do was show up and Marc Murphy saw to it that we had whatever we needed to get the job somewhat done. Tomorrow's clean-up adventure was a completely different animal to set-up being that it is part of a coordinated city-wide clean-up. Instead of having one group showing up and cleaning one location, the city has dozens of groups showing up at different locations all over the city. My boss put me in charge of our assault on the median strips and it was a bit of a trick to make sure that not only the necessary amount of bodies were allocated, but that all of the assorted tools and such would find their way to our heavily-traveled target. And then there's other considerations like soda, water, food and having traffic lanes shut down. A lot of planning went into all of this and I doubt that the folks running this coordinated clean-up even realize how much some of us have put into making tomorrow happen.

I'm not whining, I'm just stating a few facts. Ehrlich has promised to "adopt" those median strips for the rest of this year and you can count on that happening. This first trip out will prove to be a bit of work. Those medians are a nightmare. They haven't been properly attended to for years and it clearly shows. By this time tomorrow, they will be completely pleasing to the eye of those who speed by them.

But...a big but, I could not have made tomorrow happen without the selfless efforts of one Larry Schultz. He never seeks any credit, he simply donates his time to make his city a better place. Without his assistance and his trailer that looks as if he spirited it away from a trailer park in some backwater mud flat, I would have been hard-pressed to assemble what we needed to make tomorrow happen. He attends politico meetings. He attends council meetings. He attends clean-up meetings. He attends Healing Field meetings. And he made the time to haul a half-ton of yard tools and such tonight, and he will also be manning a rake, or some such yard type tool tomorrow morning.

Since February of 2003, I doubt that anyone other than Tom Leighton has devoted more time to driving Wilkes-Barre forward than I have. I'm not saying that my efforts were effective, I'm just pointing out how exhaustive they were at times. Lately, it seems as if Larry is on overdrive.

Most of the residents of this city could care less and contribute nothing to the city. Some do quite a bit. Some do what they can. Some just don't have the time. But a few, folks like Larry simply make the time. And after fighting in out on the internet for well over three years after returning home from a long day at work, I completely understand how tempting it is to just throw ones hands up and quit on the city. To his credit, Larry never did and he's still working to improve Wilkes-Barre's standing. The politicos may get all of the credit when things go well, but this podunk would be much less well off without the tireless efforts of one Larry Schultz.

I sometimes wonder whether rushing into burning buildings seems more dangerous to him than rushing into a local political firestorm. I don't rush into burning buildings for a living, but trust me, rushing into local politics is enough to wear down even the most devoted long-time resident. The election is recent history. The yard signs have all been removed. The tyrant has been dispatched. And the army of volunteers have long since stopped being involved.

And then there's Larry. A kindred soul the likes of which I've never seen.

Wilkes-Barre either goes forward, or the rest of ya'll are going to have to kill us both.

I'll see ya' in the middle of Penn Avenue tomorrow.

Please check your speed.


Pat Tillman.

I feel so small in comparison.