5-7-2004 The Assistant to the Assistant

The way he was holding me, with my head against his chest, it felt like he was trying to protect me. I thought, 'Here is the most powerful guy in the world, and he wants to make sure I'm safe.' I definitely had a couple of tears in my eyes, which is pretty unusual for me.--Ashley Faulkner

I've gathered from reading SAYSO and now our forum page that not all of our fire fighters are pleased with the latest contract their union leaders and the city settled upon. That certainly doesn't surprise me at all and I'm not going to react to any of the criticisms launched at whomever.

The only comment I will take serious issue with is the suggestion that the hiring of Greg Barrouk was a slap in the face to the dudes that had just made some considerable concessions to the city. I've read the SAYSO calls attacking this move and I've also heard some sarcastic comments on WILK. The fact of the matter is that Tom Leighton & Co. at City Hall have got so much good stuff going on these days it's freakin' next to impossible on most days to get in touch with either the mayor or his immediate underling. And if they want us to volunteer for this, that and the other thing, we need someone at City Hall to coordinate all of this with. For instance, you can't schedule the first ever city-wide volunteer cleanup and expect the entire program to be seemlessly coordinated in one or two brief phone calls well after hours. Sorry folks, but it's just not that simple.

A couple of weeks ago, I was forced to practically barge into J.J. Murphy's office in an attempt to get a few questions answered. He was his usual helpful self, but he's not the easiest guy to whip in a game of phone tag. While I was there, Tom Leighton gave me a tour of his mayoral sanctuary. It was impressive. His desk is made of solid gold and the entire seventeen room suite is decked out in mahogany and granite. The door handles are all ivory and his letter opener was carved from moon rocks brought back by Apollo 12. The round bed with satin sheets was interesting, but I didn't ask.

Anymuck, he was apprising me of just how completely busy he had been of late and I asked him why he hadn't replaced his assistant that opted out ten days into his administration. He muttered something about needing more help and I told him what I thought which was that he ought to hire someone. It's one thing to hire mayoral assistants when the city is spinning around the drain, but it's a whole other thing when we've got umpteen projects going on seemingly around the clock. I was on record weeks ago. Mr. Mayor, if you're too busy making trips, taking conference calls and meeting with every concerned Tom, Dick and Harry, maybe it would be in not only your your best interests but in the city's best interests also to have enough people on hand to make all of this progress come off without a noticeable hitch. A couple of weeks later, he hired Greg Barrouk.

I don't really know Greg Barrouk. I've seen him in action at many political events during the past year or so and I've even had a brief conversation or two with him. It's probably a good thing that I don't know him very well, because if I did, I'm sure his parents would be seriously concerned if not downright frightened. I tend to have that affect on lots of people. From what I can gather about him, he's intelligent, he's energetic, he's young and he's directly involved in his community. I ask you, who better to serve as an assistant to a mayor that seems to be hell bent on making a positive difference in this city? Feel free to e-mail me with the name of the ultra-perfect candidate that got away. All of you anonymous critics out there, have at it already. Let's hear some names. Oh, wait! The always revving motor mouths among us won't even provide their own names.

If you've got some sort of bone to pick with his high profile Dad at the Chamber, dial his number. If you've got something to say to the mayor, by all means, grow a f**kin' pair already and say it. But to call something as totally pussy-whipped as SAYSO and hack the nuts of a really, really impressive 24 year-old kid is reprehensible in my opinion. Give the kid a freaking chance for cripes sake.

Yo Greg! Buck the f**k up, ignore the anonymous critics and help us drive this city forward. It's all too obvious that way too much perfectly good sperm was wasted in these parts. You know, the more I read SAYSO, the more I'm thinking that maybe abortion isn't such a bad idea afterall.

Ladies and Germs, I'm not sure if this e-mail was meant to be shared with ya'll, so I deleted the sender's name. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must read.


First of all, welcome back.

I think it would be fair for me to say, that you can tell what type of person I am since you have been privy to some of my ramblings over the last couple of years. I try very hard to get to get the facts on all the issues that affect the fire department. I try to educate myself with respect to this job. I make it a point to get to the source of the rumors. I continue to press for what is the right thing to do on the job as well as in the union. If I remember correctly, the last thing I may have said to you was, sometimes your best just isn't good enough. If you remember, that had to do with the contract and the way negotiations were going. Since then, and your absence, we came to a fair understanding. We did the right thing and I will stand by those decisions and contract fully. Honestly, I didn't think it was going to happen. I am so glad that it did even though it meant concessions.

Now we are faced with yet another issue. An issue quite frankly that only the executive board of the union (myself included there), the fire chief, mayor, and administration know fully about. It is the staffing issue. Now there are some that I work with who need to understand the overall importance of what this means for the fire department. It means change of some sort. It means change that will not be liked by a number of people. It means change that is long overdue and needs to happen in 2004. We are not in the 70's. Times have changed. There are nationwide industry standards that have been developed and need to be considered. We need to educate all for the benefit of making things better and safer for all involved......the fire fighters and community.

Now as it turns out, there are some that feel insulted that after signing the contract and doing the best to contain costs and save money, the city is back again looking for more from us. I have to say that I am one of them. The staffing issue has become another "for instance" about the way they keep looking at us for more money and by reducing the overall on duty shift number is the way they intend to do it. For years we operated at a 17 minimum with an overall department strength of 88 employees. Then McG came along and made it his quest to take away our contract language. He succeeded and by doing so we lost the 88 number. Not too long after that the 17 went to 16. We in turn used the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standard 1710 to fight for safe staffing based on the industry standards for the number of fire fighters that need to be on any piece of fire fighting equipment. In the end through arbitration we received language that gave us staffing numbers. Not even to the full letter of the standard, but enough that it made it safer and gave us the ability after decades to finally step toward meeting those standards. The very study in 1994, that the city conducted by a private municipal fire protection consulting company, that was used against us when fire station closing were the topic of the day to reduce the shift levels and overall employee levels of the fire department, was now used to show the need for change and the number relative to shift levels needed in the city. It showed what we have said all along. That the shift level of 17 that we worked with and by consolidating a fire station with respect to using less fire equipment with more men on it was a better solution to the overall safety of the fire fighters as well as the citizens of the community.

Which brings us to today. Without regard to the dangerous position the administration is putting us all in by changing the deployment of fire equipment and personnel around the city to make the appearance of having all five fire stations staffed according to their stubbornness of having 16 as opposed to 17 on the shift, they are willing to open the floodgates of bad service, poor safety, and a manner in which many lives of those in the community, let alone the fire fighters will be adversely affected. HQ station and all the territory it covers will NOT have a fire engine with water on it. I live in this territory, and even if I didn't, I would still be outraged by this decision by ADMINISTRATORS to save a buck. We were told that department heads and common sense would be the order of the day when the new administration took office. Unfortunately, the more things change in politics, the more things stay the same. I truly believe that we need 17. There are so many more advantages and possibilities for new practices if we adopt new staffing levels with less fire engines with more fire fighters on them in the city. The number one being the SAFETY of the fire fighters. A prime example....37 Ralph St. two weeks ago. We do what we are trained to do, but the way we do it now, for the last twenty-five years, isn't good enough anymore and puts the fire fighter in physical danger by operating inside a working house fire alone, and the city in danger from purely a legal standpoint based on the possibility of what it will incur financially if a fire fighter is killed operating alone in a house fire. The macho days of running into a burning building alone are over. This is insane to say the least. IT IS NOT HOW WE TRAIN, IT IS NOT THE WAY WE SHOULD BE DOING STRUCTURAL FIRE FIGHTING. Your life as a fire fighter is worth more. Times have changed, yet the mindset hasn't. It is time to educate all those in the fire department, the city administration, and the community of why it is time to change. I would love to have tons of money around for the department. More so, I want to ensure that we have given those that run into a burning building every advantage to do their job as safe as it can possibly be considering the nature of what we have to do.

I am afraid that I must report yet again......sometimes your best just isn't good enough. Mark my words...this will be the downfall of the current city administration based on if they cut the levels. This will ruin any chance of having a working relationship between the administration and union. It doesn't have to be this way, and I will continue to press ahead to educate, inform, beg, plead, and bang the table in defense of what I truly believe to be the right course of action to resolve this matter. The safety and lives of the fire fighters deserve that much. The citizens of W-B deserve that much. That is how strongly I believe we are on the verge of great things within the fire department and the way we conduct business. I know that money is the issue, but there has to be a way. They have to understand that at some point we have a responsibility to do the right thing over money. They have to find another avenue to save money. We have done our best and necessary change needs to happen.....with 17 a shift, with closing a fire station now, with putting another engine out of service, but with increasing the staffing per fire engine to three. It can and will work. I can prove it. Before it is too late.....before someone is hurt or killed.....fire fighter or resident.

We should talk. How about a beer on the porch over the issue at hand?.....The more you know, the better the opinion formed.*******

The more you know, the better the opinion formed. Fuckin' A right!!! Drop on by. I'm buying.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Bush pauses to comfort teen

'This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11'

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

During his visit to the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, President Bush stops to hug Ashley Faulkner, who lost her mom in the Sept. 11 attacks. Photo by Lynn Faulkner

In a moment largely unnoticed by the throngs of people in Lebanon waiting for autographs from the president of the United States, George W. Bush stopped to hold a teenager's head close to his heart.

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president's hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."

Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

"I could hear her say, 'I'm OK,' " he said. "That's more emotion than she has shown in 21/2 years. Then he said, 'I can see you have a father who loves you very much.' "

"And I said, 'I do, Mr. President, but I miss her mother every day.' It was a special moment."

Special for Lynn Faulkner because the Golden Lamb was the place he and his wife, Wendy Faulkner, celebrated their anniversary every year until she died in the south tower of the World Trade Center, where she had traveled for business.

The day was also special for Ashley, a 15-year-old Mason High School student, because the visit was reminiscent of a trip she took four years ago with her mother and Prince. They spent all afternoon in the rain waiting to see Bush on the campaign trail. Ashley remembers holding her mother's hand, eating Triscuits she packed and bringing along a book in case she got bored.

But this time was different. She understood what the president was saying, and she got close enough to see him face to face.

"The way he was holding me, with my head against his chest, it felt like he was trying to protect me," Ashley said. "I thought, 'Here is the most powerful guy in the world, and he wants to make sure I'm safe.' I definitely had a couple of tears in my eyes, which is pretty unusual for me."

The photo has been circulating across the country, Faulkner said. Relatives have passed it on to friends, bosses and acquaintances. As they tell the story, they also share in Wendy Faulkner's legacy, which her family continues through the Wendy Faulkner Memorial Children's Foundation.

"I'm a pretty cynical and jaded guy at this point in my life," Faulkner said of the moment with the president. "But this was the real deal. I was really impressed. It was genuine and from the heart."

Kerry to Endorse New 'Purple Heart' Band-Aids

05/06/04 NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey

Senator John Kerry, the recipient of three Purple Hearts, has signed a contract with Johnson & Johnson to endorse a new line of band-aids.

The band-aids will be small purple hearts designed to cover minor, superficial wounds like Kerry suffered as a lieutenant in the Vietnam War.

"We're proud to be working with Senator Kerry," said a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson. "We plan to use actual shrapnel removed from his arm in our ad campaign to highlight the small size of our J&J Band-Aid brand Purple Heart bandages."

The doctor who treated Kerry at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, recently described the procedure used to treat the wound that won the senator his first Purple Heart.

"First, I located the wound with the aid of a magnifying glass," said Dr. Louis Letson. "Then, I used a pair of tweezers to extract the shrapnel, which measured approximately one centimeter in length and two to three millimeters in diameter.

"Finally, I covered the wound with one of those little round band-aids people use to cover corns on their toes."

The Band-Aid endorsement is not the first for Senator Kerry.

It comes on the heels of two other high-profile endorsement deals Kerry has signed with Waffle House and Flip-Flops, Inc.

2004 RealStupidNews.com

Except for Suzie Q. "The Franchise" Henry, WILK is on extremely thin ice with this nomadic termite herder.

This morning's drive time Bush bash was to be expected, but listening to Kev bash the callers to the show is becoming insulting. This guy constantly tells callers not to "paint with such a broad brush," or not to deal in "outrageous generalities." But when callers start taking shots at him, they are quickly labeled as the mindless listeners of Rush. In Kevin's mind, Rush is the Republican anti-Christ. That's peculiar coming from the phony that points out each and every week that he is a registered Republican. It's not his penchant for hating Republicans that bothers me. It's the fact that he steadfastly claims to be what he is obviously not. He's a phony, plain and simple.

Today, believe it or not, Oldies 92 was suddenly more palatable than talk radio and that is a historic first for me. Even some one hit wonder of a garage band with only four chords makes more sense than the man (?) that thinks only what his mostly whacked-out sounding Mommy and Daddy told him to think. He tells us what to think. He tells us how we should conduct ourselves. And he verbally disembowels the "knuckle draggers," the "droolers" that dare to challenge his utter superiority. Yet...by his own admission, he's too f**king lazy to push a lawnmower twice a year.

If you listen to local talk radio day in and day out, you come to know the folks doing the yammering quite well. You know roughly where they live. You know their kids names and their spouse's name. You know all about their likes and dislikes and you know about their pets. And you also come to know which ones are total assholes and which ones aren't.

Lately, Kevin is making even the pretend diva, Diana Ross acceptable. And I freaking hate that no talent Diana Ross.

We're pruning the trees on the Square? In Wilkes-Barre? Come on! Attention to detail is something that is going to take a while to get used to. We can only take so much progress at once.

Pruning? In Wilkes-Barre?


Date: Sun, 02 May 2004 21:03:42

The US Postal Service created a stamp with a picture of Senator Hillary Clinton to honor her achievements as the First Lady of our nation. In daily use it was shown that the stamp was not sticking to envelopes. This enraged Senator Clinton, who demanded a full investigation. After a month of testing, a special presidential commission made the following findings: *The stamp was in perfect order. *There was nothing wrong with the applied adhesive. *People were spitting on the wrong side.

I hear that. A week ago, a local politico treated me to two tickets directly behind the Yankees dugout at Yankee Stadium. Sitting almost directly in front of my son and I were Bill and Hitlery Clinton. I prayed and prayed inning after inning, but not one foul ball skulled either of them. Anyway, it was announced before the game that Bill would throw out a ceremonial first pitch during the 7th inning stretch to kick-off the Little League Challenger Division season.

So, the 7th inning stretch ensued and all of these challenged kids in uniform, their parents and their coaches were lining both base lines. A guy with a microphone stood silently on the pitcher's mound staring at the Clinton's, but Bill just sat there. So I'm thinking 'Earth to Bill' and the guy on the mound finally fires up the microphone and says, "Okay Mr. President. It's time to throw out the first pitch." The crowd roared in anticipation.

Follow me here, man. I am not making up what happened next. Billy Bob stood up, turned around and waved to the adoring and cheering crowd. He really seemed to be sucking up the attention. Then he turned back towards the field, grabbed Hitlery by the back of the neck and threw her over the railing and onto the field face first. The roar from the crowd was instantly replaced by stunned silence. Being that we could suddenly hear a moistened cigar drop, I heard what the Secret Service dude had to say to him as Hitlery rolled over and started lauching F-Bombs at him.

The Secret Service dude said: "Mr. President. I think he said first pitch, not first bitch."

True story. I swear.

Jimmy Page is calling to me. Time for some diz-busting hammer-downs.