5-24-2004 Chlorine? Or Tide?

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton said Sunday that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was right to say that President Bush "has on his shoulders the death of many more [U.S.] troops" because of his military misjudgments, explaining, "I know a little bit about" being Commander-in-Chief.

Here's a couple of blurbs from the forum page that caught my eye:

Screw the chill pill with the audit, the administration certainly hasn't taken a chill pill with their demands, I think we start making some demands to some very important unanswered questions ourselves.

It seems as though it would be a good idea to audit the city's finances. I would like to know what happened to all that money we received from grants and normal taxpayer revenues. How in the heck are we supposed to simply forget the amount of debt this city is in? More importantly, the man who left us with this tremendous debt is only a few short years from collecting a sizeable pension. Instead of working for EMA, he should be aswering for years of mismanagement.

It certainly wouldn't hurt to audit the city from top-to-bottom, but I doubt that it would change things one iota. What are the "very important unanswered questions" that need to be addressed? And if answered, will the answers right any of our perceived wrongs? I sort of doubt it. Will an audit put those two engines back into service?

As far as the money we recieved from grants is concerned, don't believe every press release you read during the previous eight years. By his own words, McGroarty's grant totals seemed to grow faster than the national debt. A recent e-mailer asked where the $110 million in grants that McG claimed to have secured went to. First off, I seriously doubt the accuracy of McG's boasts and secondly, most of the stuff he actually got was junk we probably didn't need. We have new solar-powered emergency sirens, but we don't have many street lights left. We have an emergency radio station, WPUU, but we can't afford to hire the cops we need. We've covered all of this before.

Then there's our outstanding debts. If I remember correctly, about five years ago, Ambrose Meletsky estimated our long-term debts to be in the neighborhood of $38 million. These days, the Wilkes-Barre taxpayer advocates have listed it as being as high as $51 million. I don't think anyone has forgotten about those debts, and even if we knew the up-to-date numbers, it's not as if we can do much about them except to keep making the payments on time.

And as far as McG being held accountable for his dismal financial performance goes, don't hold your freakin' breath. According to the city charter and anything you might happen upon at the state's web site; it is not a criminal act to be totally incompetent while holding an elected office.

So, as you can see, I am wondering what an exhaustive audit could accomplish at this point other than to re-enforce what we already knew and what we've already heard. We're broke and our new mayor has promised time and again to stop the flow of red ink.

I'm not blind and I completely understand why SOME of our fire fighters would feel betrayed by what has developed so far this year. The plain fact of the matter is, from a re-election standpoint, no politician wants to close firehouses or put engines out of service. Yet...one of ours chose to do just that.

It sounds to me as if our union reps and our administration need to lock themselves away and brainstorm until an amicable arrangement can be settled upon that does not compromise public safety. 3 fire fighters on every engine greatly enhances their ability to do their jobs safely during a structure fire. Conversely, 3 fire fighters on every engine eliminates fire engines from active duty. This is one sh*t sandwich that no one should be expected to take a bite of. So what do we do about it? Conduct an audit?

From the e-mail inbox: *******Mark, There's just one thing that needs to be done to correct this situation. The administration needs to commit to a number of firefighters on duty per shift. Whether it be 20, 17, 16, or 200. This is not rocket science. This years budget contains x amount of firefighters. Some have retired, and the positions gone unfilled. 2 are off serving their country in Iraq. The administration should be able to commit to a number. The union is seeking that number to avoid further cuts in an already understaffed department, as well as a guarantee that when the s**t hits the fan, the numbers will be there. I'm so sick and tired of hearing that the city doesn't have the money....It will break the city....It'll cause the city to go Act 47. Bulls**t! If the city can afford to give out comp time to employees to watch the flags, hire Barrouk's kid as an assistant to something or other, and give away the hole site for a promise, they can afford to give the firefighters a commitment. The firefighters just took a substantial cut in benefits to the tune of $3.5 million, and worked hard on the mayors/councils campaign to get this city back on the track to revitalization, and hopefully save our numbers. This all doesn't seem to matter to the administration. I'm sure you'll find it interesting to note that the affected neighborhoods, Nord End and East End, are without council representation. Maybe there is a need for redistricting after all. The previous administration was vindictive, and underhanded, but this reaches beyond painting fire hydrants, and calling names. This affects the safety of the residents, and firefighters alike. Lawyers fighting about it in court are one thing.I'd prefer if it stayed there. Actually implementing such a gamble is beyond what the last administration did, and smacks of politics(something which I thought I was getting rid of in November). I convinced myself, when voting on the contract, that this was for the good of all parties involved, and would ensure a good relationship with the administration. Man was I wrong.

Thanks for listening,


What the funk...

...is up with these people employed by the Times Leader? Their crusade against allowing us to frolic in the fountain at the Square's epicenter is annoying if not downright stupid. Oh, no! That water can cause all sorts of untold health problems, despite the lack of empirical evidence to show that it has done so even once.

The Leader tested that water a while back and McG reacted by denying us access to that cold water, that oasis, during the hottest months. Wonderful. That was supposedly a good thing. According to the scaremongers at the Leader, that water can kill you. Or some such sh*t. Forget the mosquitoes that infest the dike paths and the cars hurtling through our neighborhoods faster than the speed of a moderately priced lazer printer. If bike riders, or anyone else for that matter, decide to take a refreshing detour through the fountain-it might cause a huge hump to appear on our upper backs. As if.

A snippet of Casey Jones' scare piece from yesterday's Leader:

First, a fountain refresher course, so you understand why the fence went up, why the fence came down, why people shouldn't let kids frolic in the fountain, and why they will anyway.

It is not a drinking fountain.

The water is not treated. So don't fill your canteen with it. Don't even lick it off your lips.

Nor is it a water park.

No matter how refreshing the fountain looks, you shouldn't sit in it, run through it, or allow your children in it, especially if said children are not potty trained. That's how the trouble started.

When the water was tested in 1997, it was found to have more in common with toilet water than tap water.

Signs went up prohibiting "bathing" in the fountain. The fence soon followed. And it just kept getting uglier and more embarrassing as years went by.

So Leighton had the fence removed, and he will rely on parental control and police patrols and those little yellow signs on the light poles to keep people out of the water this summer. So far, so bad.

So far, so bad? Incorrect, Champ. So far, so good. Some of us spent hundreds of hours in the wading pools at our neighborhood playgrounds while growing up. And I really don't remember any outbreaks of any previously undiagnosed killer diseases as a result. There was one kid who ran around biting other kids on the neck, but he never ventured into the wading pool at our playground. Apparently, he didn't want to get his vampire cape that he ordered from the back page of a comic book wet.

And even if the water flowing from the fountain does contain a few billion parasitic protozoans, is that really any worse than eating at a local restaurant, or following an LCTA bus for four, or five blocks without a respirator? Or being exposed to newspaper ink seven days a week?

Here's the new program, Casey. Since I ride through the Square about six days a week on average, I will drop a chlorine tablet down in there once a week and then you can stop heading over to the Square every time you're hurting for something to write about. At the rate you're going, you'll soon be telling us how we somehow failed Charlie Weiss, or some other goofus that calls the Square his home.

We opened Gage's new pool yesterday and I already have the chlorine tablets on hand. The fountain is officially open, kiddies. Enjoy. And pay Casey and his team of enviro scientists no mind. Maybe a box of Tide would clean it up.

You're gonna die!

Besides, until we get some cops on bikes again, there isn't a cop in this city that can chase down a mountain bike powered by a motivated, albeit, very wet rider.

Back to the pool for a second. Gage awoke from his afternoon nap yesterday and preceded to hunt for Gramma. He eventually spotted her in the back yard and yelled, "Look! Gramma's makin' a pool!"

This ought to...

...keep the Iraqi prison abuse stories on the front pages of every newspaper until at least the first week of November. It ought to require a few more months of "non-partisan" congressional hearings too.

From NewsMax.com:

Saturday, May 22, 2004 11:48 a.m. EDT

Latest Abu Ghraib Horror: Nerf Torture

Documents obtained by the New York Times show that U.S. interrogators at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison had devised a diabolically gruesome new tactic to abuse innocent Iraqi terror suspects: Nerf torture.

"One of the M.P.'s took a Nerf football and threw it at the detainees," Specialist Roman Krol, a reservist with the 325th Military Intelligence Battallion, revealed to Army interrogators who grilled him about the horrors of Abu Ghraib - the Times said Saturday.

The Nerf football and other Nerf toys are foam rubber objects designed to protect small children who play with them from injuries. One of the most popular - the Nerf bat - is routinely used by four-year-olds to beat the daylights out of each without a hint of pain or injury.

In an apparent oversight, the Geneva Convention makes no mention of protecting P.O.W.'s from abuse by Nerf toys.

Somebody got a pic of Gage in his first ever parade. Cool. Actually, it was my first parade appearance also.

Ready, aim, fire!

Photo by Hose Chick

The Fine Arts Fiesta was a winner. It really was well done. I made three separate trips down there. There is one obvious improvement that needs to be made for next year's event though. There needs to be a much wider concourse in front of the row of food vendors. Seriously. Making your way past the numerous food tents is tougher than navigating the Cross Bronx Expressway at midday. Plus, the trees directy in front of the vendors need to be pruned just a tad. Despite years and years of riding through polluted fountains, not very many of us are 4' 11" tall. Or short.

And I finally got to see UUU. They were outstanding. I've known of this band for quite some time, but I've never managed to see them perform. I'm not one to travel to The Coal Hole in Shamokin for a night of rockin', so despite wanting to see them, I never did manage to before this past Saturday night. Looking back on things, I don't think I've gone to a club to see a band perform since Cook's on South Washington went inferno on us many, many years ago. Or maybe it was Synch opening for Das Conrad in that tiny punk club hidden away in the Hotel Sterling. Nope. I know. It was Blue Oyster Cult at the Station Complex. Whatever. UUU was awesome. I will attempt to catch them in a club setting sometime soon.

Check it out. The Wilkes-Barre Healing Field photo gallery.