7-9-04 Keep hackin'

They're still individuals, they're still human beings and they still have families.--Todd Vonderheid

Are you that heartless? You consider people's lives a play thing?--Greg Skrepenak

I understand why they would react negatively to some rather unfeeling criticism from a Kingston resident at the recent "right-sizing" meeting, but they sought and won the elected offices they currently occupy, and they promised to deliver a healthy dose of financial responsibility where done existed before. To their credit, they are trying and I don't think anyone expected to be facing a $30 million dollar shortfall for this fiscal year.

They've displayed their compassion and remorse while doing what must be done, but I do take issue with the "blood lust" comments directed towards the long frustrated hoi polloi. This is a county that can't attract significant manufacturing jobs despite the intersecting highways and such. This is a county with an unemployment rate that traditionally higher than the state and national averages. And yet, this county is our largest employer despite the constant flow of red ink and near stifling tax increases.

It was noted by the Young Gun Commissioners that as many as 225 lay offs may occur, and to date 73 have actually come to pass. They say more are soon to follow and I believe them. What other choice do they have? But as of right now, Luzerne County is facing yet another year of massive red ink and we all know where that leads. These guys have had only six months to work with, but the time to act and act decisively has definately arrived.

The compassion on display is wonderful and all, but in the real world not bogged down by unions that seek nothing but ways to increase the budgets that result in higher taxes for everyone, management has to find a way to balance the budget or management finds itself replaced. Fixed costs can only be fractionally pared, utilities and such are next to impossible to cut in any major way, and supplies and repairs can only be done without for so long. The most effective and quickest way to significantly cut costs is by cutting the percentage of the budget that appears on the labor line of the profit and loss statement.

My thoughts suddenly drift northward towards Valley Crest. Government is supposed to make allowances for the common good, but if we're going to continue to provide a highly questionable service that the private sector folks can do better and cheaper, isn't that another form of welfare? If we're going to raise taxes every year, but steadfastly refuse to liquidate a facility that continually bleeds red ink and produces more and more empty beds; isn't that just income redistribution? The folks at the Crest keep their jobs at our expense without any logical justification?

I also caught another quote attributed to Skrep that I 1.) Totally disagree with and, 2.) Can't believe came out of his piehole.

It's just a reflection on the economy and tough times."

With all due respect to our political neophyte, the national economy has been on the upswing for quite some time now. Our state and local economies barely rise above the level of the Tidy Bowl dispensers currently in use. With the exception of the folks pricing Barbies at Target and the city and county employees double-dipping at the Arena, there really isn't anything to write to all of our family and friends that have high-tailed it out of here about. And having a financially dysfunctional county government draining millions upon millions of dollars out of local economy certainly doesn't give anyone cause for any optimism. Tough times? They seem to be the 'norm in this county.

And if the locals demand a list of names of those to be furloughed-they have every right to peruse such a list. In a county legendary for it's cronyism and nepotism; what better way is there to show that the useless political hacks of old, and not just the nameless, faceless county employees are having the budgetary axe swung at them too?

The long and short of it is, these necessary job cuts are easily five years overdue. Our commissioners have reduced by 95, and dismissed 73 people. I'm watching and waiting for the rest, no matter what number that translates into. You wanted the job and you got it. You promised to balance that budget, so do it. The obvious remorse is nice and the hand-wringing is understandable. But further tax increases will not be. Everything, no matter how sacred must be put on the table at this point.

Ya'll promised. Now get on with it.

Guess freaking what? Ken Lay...

...Enron's CEO, has been indicted and is facing years in prison if duly convicted. So much for the baseless accusation that Dubya was somehow protecting old "Kenny Boy." Yet another one that Kevin Lynn, the registered Republican turned Republcan asassin got totally wrong. Nothing new there, heyna?

RUTRO! Hit the...

...panic button and wait for Factualheit/911 to be released on DVD! Bush has been pounded for six long months and still the polls showed that he and Kerry were in a statistical dead heat. So Kerry named his VEEP fully expecting a bounce in the polls only to learn that both a Zogby and an AP poll show him trailing Bush all of a sudden. If there was any historical symmetry at work here, Kerry would be way out front in the polls. Bummer, kleptoplutes. Better luck in '08.

Somebody called me today...

..wanting to know if WebTV is capable of receiving e-mails. Duh! Of course it accepts e-mails and you can continue to embed pics if need be. Trust me, these much-maligned semi-puter gizmos are plenty nifty in their own right. By all means, send it along. Whatever it is.

Block Party update

Some of us here on Thompson street are getting calls from folks wishing to confirm that they will be attending our 15th installment of Wilkes-Barre's most bestest block party.

Please, if you plan on attending, send me an e-mail confirmation as soon as possible. I'll need to know the number of adults attending (16 and over) and the ages of anyone under 16 years-old. We need the ages of the rodents so as to better coordinate all of the kiddie games. The big event is only five short weeks away and we've got lots of stuff to coordinate, and lots of foodstuffs and drink to order.

Last year, the official T-shirts sold out real quick at ten bucks a pop, so if you want one, please specify a size so we can order enough to meet the demand. Also, due to the enormous outcry, the adult egg toss event will be back on the slate of adult games and whatnot. The always popular horseshoe tournament will go on as always, plus, get this, a bocci ball tournament has been added this year.

We're still trying to solicit some more prizes, so if you've got something to donate, your business will receive a healthy plug from moi, provided that I'm still sober enough to remember where the heck it came from in the first place. We've held the line on costs, so it's still $10 for anyone over 16 years-old. And the giant tent is now a block party mainstay, so there will be no rainout date. On Saturday, August 21, we are gonna party on. Join us.

This just in..

...Mayor Tom Leighton (remember him?) has scheduled a volunteer cleanup of the awful landfill up at the top of our street which runs all the way up to Ralph Street for next Saturday the 10th. I approached my immediate supervisor today and he cleared my schedule so that I can join all the fun. Whoopee! Where's my work gloves?

Anyway, if anyone is interested in helping to make yet another small difference for the betterment of all concerned in Wilkes-Barre, contact me via e-mail.

I'll be cutting open discarded garbage bags looking for names, so we'll need a police officer to hand out fines on this cleanup mission. It's $300 for illegal dumping, right?

Lemme know.

The damned underachieving...

...Phillies are on Comcast every single night. Tonight they face the hard-charging Braves and no Phils on Comcast. What in the muck is that?

Did you ever notice how the Phils play-by-play boys sound as if they're watching too much MTV? Now batting: J-Lo. Jimmy Rollins? What the funk is wrong with these boobs? J-Mic for Jason Michaels? Who the hell is Jason Michaels? What double A team did he escape from?

I know "Chipper" is hated by Met's fans everywhere, but calling him C-Jo every time he came to the plate would have him end up being stalked or something. How about F-Al for Felipe Alou? B-Cox for Bobby Cox? J-Smo for John Smoltz? Or L-Bo for Larry Bowa?

I wonder if there's anyone toiling away at Richmond named George Blowinski? Or maybe a Frank Youells?

Probably not.