12-17-2005 Jeremy Cour

Hillary in '08?

Don't count your Spotted Owl eggs before they hatch.

Mike McGlynn can bang on his regionalization drum all he likes, but with the mental equivalents of Mongo (Blazing Saddles) being elected to "manage" many of our local pudunks, any serious efforts at regionalizing will never happen. Ever since the then, fledgling arena project was still facing an uphill battle, it was the elected leaders of Buffoons R Us (formerly known as Wilkes-Barre Township) that made up the insurgency when the Coalition of Progress was set to invade that mine-scarred hill that has since become the retail Mecca of Luzerne County.

For the elected folks up the hill a ways, it's not a matter of what they got wrong so much as it is their propensity for never getting anything right. If the arena had never been built, the difference between that township and, say, Noxen would be indistinguishable. Pre-arena, was there any discernable difference between Wilkes-Barre Township and Glen Lyon, other than a mall built directly on top of a closed landfill? And Glen Lyon doesn't have it's last remaining coal vein burning underfoot as Arenaville does.

With that said, check out the following comments that came from Mayor Mongo and his partners in buffoonery as per today's Citizens' Voice:

"They're not creating jobs. They're taking them from our town and putting them into Wilkes-Barre," said Wilkes-Barre Township Mayor Carl Kuren.

"We'll be losing the $52 job tax from these employees," Kuren said. "We'll be losing these people who used to eat in the area and shop in the area."

Wilkes-Barre Township Council President Mary Yuknavich and Vice President Frank Tarnalicki also are unhappy with the loss of more than 250 jobs and the $52 job tax from employees.

"It's like a cut in pay. How would you like it if your employer took money out of your pocket? The state just does what they want with no ands, ifs or buts about it," Tarnalicki said. "They just want to take things out of Wilkes-Barre Township. They envy us. Other communities envy us because we're growing. We give our citizens a lot."

These people are to mental prowess what Terrell Owens is to being a class act. They lost a state office building and it's 250 employees to Wilkes-Barre and they go and get their aged bloomers all tied into a knot. But with an acre of land going for $500,000 a pop up there, do we honestly believe that Buffoon Township won't end up with even a sweeter deal? I'm not sure what's more obvious. Is it their utter lack of forward-thinking vision, or their reflexive and backwards-looking territoriality? The saddest part of this display of mental ineptitude is that these people were dead serious. Wilkes-Barre stole our jobs! I think it's obvious to all that what Wilkes-Barre Township sorely lacks is some capable leadership. In my mind, these folks couldn't shine Tom Leighton's shoes.

More from the Voice:

City officials complained Wilkes-Barre Township took away numerous business from Wilkes-Barre.

The Wyoming Valley Mall, the Arena Hub, Wal-Mart, Target and several other chain stores, which opened in Wilkes-Barre Township, forced several "mom and pop" stores in Wilkes-Barre to close, said Wilkes-Barre Councilman Jim McCarthy. Few businesses remain open in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

"We may be taking a few of their employees, but they took all our stores," McCarthy said. "They took our business away."

Jim! Jim! Jim! You're giving those people way too much credit. They probably wouldn't be able to locate their only mole if it was growing out of their retina. They gave Crown America the rights to develop a landfill almost forty years ago. And they fought against the arena being built at damn near every turn. They haven't taken anything as much as they just got lucky over and over.

And face it, the Agnes flood coinciding with the emergence of the Wyoming Valley Mall did in our downtown more than any local yokel on that hill ever did. For all intents and purposes, after the flood rendered our downtown inoperable for months upon months, the mall was the only retail game in town. And it sure didn't help matters when it was haphazardly decided to piece-by-piece replace a once hustling and bustling retail environment with an office park of sorts.

Agnes was the beginning of the slow descent of our once cherished downtown. The mall was there to fill the retail void. And three years after Agnes, that damn-near flood Wilkes-Barre faced was the straw that broke many a retail and residential back in this city. Anybody remember those yellow Lavelle moving vans parked in front of every third building in '75 when the dikes actually held back the raging water? For every person I've met that claims they parted ways with Wilkes-Barre after the '72 flood, I've met just as many that joined the exodus out of town after the big scare of '75.

In the immediate aftermath of the '72 flood when much of this city was rebuilt with copious amounts of federal dollars until 2004, not a single thing of note was done to properly maintain or enhance the city's infrastructure. No major initatives were undertaken to counter the city's steady march towards a mercantile cardiac arrest. No businesses replaced the ones that left. No thought was given to the devastating effects reverse-gentrification was bringing to our once pristine neighborhoods. And while Wilkes-Barre was obviously well past the apogee of what had once been a good flight, our elected folk worried more about improving salaries, perks and bennies for Wilkes-Barre's employees, elected or not. 21 sick days as part of a then, new union contract? 21 sick days? A monthly gas allowance--a stipend--for traveling all the way from Wilkes-Barre to Wilkes-Barre? Sorry, Jim, but we can't blame all of that on anyone from Buffoon Township.

Fact is, this city has been shooting itself in both feet since those days when my hair was but a few inches from touching my belt. And most of the errant shots were being fired by our elected folk.

But back to Mayor Mongo for a second. I'd say he's had enough beans. No? Lemme see here: $52 multplied by 250 employees equals $13,000 to be paid directly to Wilkes-Barre's coffers in '06. Nice!

Candygram for Mongo: Hell, I was born here, an' I was raished here, an' dad gum it, I am gonna die here, an no sidewindin bushwackin, hornswaglin, cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter.

Regionalization? Yeah. That'll happen right after Wilkes-Barre Township hires itself a black sheriff.

Ain't happenin'.

It no longer matters what our elected baby-kissers think of voting by districts. What's done is done and they have to abide by the will of the people. The next time they get to distributing yard signs with their names on 'em we'll be voting out of five separate districts.

I snagged this from a Leader article:

Posted on Fri, Dec. 16, 2005

W-B gets redistricting under way

Six named to board to create council voting regions

By JON FOX jfox@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE – Six of seven members of a committee to redraw districts for a move to five regionally elected council members were chosen by city council and Mayor Tom Leighton on Thursday.

The full committee will consist of seven members. Council selects two, the mayor selects four, and those six members will select the seventh.

Two of the mayor’s selections must come from lists of candidates compiled by the heads of both local Democratic and Republican parties, according to the city’s home rule charter.

At its final meeting of 2005, city council approved its two picks for the redistricting committee, appointing Chris Evans and Vaughn Koter Jr.

The appointments were made without any public debate and council unanimously approved the selections.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Kathy Kane said the choices were selected from names submitted to council.

After the meeting, council members said only two people had expressed interest in serving.

“Only two people approached us to be on the committee, and we accepted,” Councilman Tony Thomas said.

Leighton selected Joan Kwak and Harry Miller, and from the selections of Greg Fellerman, head of the city’s Democratic Party, he chose Rose Frati.

For the appointee recommended by the head of the Republican Party, Leighton said he was forced to choose Ted Wampole, the only interested Republican he was aware of.

Stephen J. Urban, head of the Republican Party, did not respond to a certified letter sent by the city in November requesting a list of selections, Leighton said.

“In order to move the process forward” and “based on the lack of cooperation and correspondence,” Wampole was appointed, the mayor said, adding that Wampole had called the city clerk’s office to express his interest.

Leighton and all of the members of council are Democrats. City residents voted to alter the city charter in 2001 to move from seven at-large seats to five district seats.

Then, nearly three years ago, a committee chaired by attorney John Moses drew a series of districts that divided the city into strips with little attention to existing neighborhoods.

City council members voted in October to redraw the district lines that had drawn vehement criticism from some.

Districts should be in place in time for the primary elections of 2007, city officials have said.

Please, let's do away with those awful gerrymandered--those proposed "striped" districts--and vote by congruous neighborhoods. I don't care iffin' the councilman from Nord End gets to squabbling with the council babe from some other neighborhood competing for it's share of only God (sorry) knows what. I want to be able to more easily evaluate the new entries into the political brouhaha, and voting by neighborhoods will better facilitate such a fact-finding mission.

If some unknown from Goober Lane on the back side of the city throws his hat into the political ring, how am I supposed to know if he enjoys skinnin' the cats on his turf? Does he wear pantyhose? Is he an Eagles fan for chrissakes? Conversely, if said newbie lives just up the street a ways right by that dude I know from my naked water polo days, chances are I can get the full scoop on the alleged cat killer. The thing is, if you're a raving lunatic when not pressing the flesh, your neighbors are going to know as much. And if an imbecile from Nord End seeks to rule the roost, again, chances are my neighbors will be able to give me the rundown on that imbecilic pretender to the throne.

Let's do it and get on with things. And iffin' those folks from the Heights get a hankerin' for stealing our new firehouse, our councilman and your councilman are gonna have themselves one helluva donnybrook on their hands. You wanna fight? We'll fight!

What the hell. That's all they do in D.C. these days.

Let's hope those Iraqi's copy our exercise in democracy only to a certain point.

Here's the latest in response times from our fire department while responding to a report of a possible structure fire on E. Northhampton Street. You know, like, in the Heights?

911: 12:48 PM--"390 E. Northhampton...reports of smoke in the structure...fire alarms sounding...possible structure fire"

12:48 F-6 10-17.

12:49 Engine 3, Ladder 1, Rescue 7 and Medic 3 10-17

12:51 F-6 10:23

12:52 Rescue 7 and Ladder 1 10-23

12:52 F-6: "Cooking incident."

In a span of only four minutes, the fire department was on the scene and had assessed the situation. You can listen to whomever you wish when the subject of response times comes up. And you can read away on the internet. But I'm here to tell you that four minutes is about as good as it gets and far exceeds the standards of most of the fire departments scattered all over these fruity plains of ours.

See that? City living does have it's advantadges over some of those more bucolic areas.

Who knew?

I couldn't agree any more with the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police's decision to name Detective Joe Coffay it's officer of the year.

From The Times Leader story of December 15th:

“I’ve known thousands of narcotics investigators, and he is the finest narcotics investigator I have ever met,” said city police Chief Gerry Dessoye. “He is a tireless, tireless, totally committed investigator.”

He is a tireless, tireless, totally committed investigator.

That he is.

I've done two police ride-alongs, one in Wilkes-Barre and one in Plains Township. But my knowledge of policing is pretty much limited to that and being addicted to Scanner Land. But I had "worked" with Det. Coffay a while back when Thompson Street became home to a drug house at one end, and a stash house at the other. And the guy was, in fact, tireless.

Thing is, Thompson Street is not exactly a priority for our patrol division, and we rarely if ever see a patrol car on this street. No biggie. We've got a tireless crime watch program of sorts in place here and it works for us. That is, until Queens came a callin'. When the druggies moved in, the situation up here became untenable almost overnight. I had myself a couple of very minor skirmishes with those druggie bastards, but they seemed to be mildly amused by my antics and little else. I took a picture of a New York plate right in front of them and they responded by replacing the plate and smirking at me. What's a small town white boy to do?

I called police headquarters and was quickly directed to the answering machine of the narcotics division. I left a message. That was on a Sunday night during a rather impressive lightning storm. Monday came and went and no return call. Tuesday turned into Wednesday and still no call. I called Wifey on Thursday afternoon from the shop before heading home on the Rock Stomper. Still no return call. As I pedaled my way home, I got to wondering about whether anyone was going to bother to respond to my call for help. Did they even care? There's certainly no shortage of average Joe's bad mouthing our cops every time they get the chance, and I was beginning to wonder if some of their loudmouth cop-bashing was accurate to some degree.

So I came down Hazle so fast, even the cars couldn't match my speed. I made my way to S. Main and turned towards Nord End. And as I was making my way past that Marquee paint shop, some guy in a nondescript type car starts hailing on me by calling out my name. I pulled to a stop at the curb figuring I had pissed off somebody heretofore not yet pissed off as a result of this web locale of mine. No biggie. I've been chased, stared down, cursed at and yelled at many times before. Let it rip.

Turns out, it was Detective Joe in his undercover car. He explained that the lightning storm had caused the answering machine at the narcotics office to blink out in mid-message when I called, so they didn't catch my phone number. We had ourselves a converstaion by which he explained what he needed from me, and he supplied me with his home and cell phone numbers. I was instructed to call any time I thought I needed to. And call I did. And at no time did I ever get the impression that either he or his better half were annoyed by the frequent calls. After that chance encounter, it was obvious to the residents of this street that Thompson Street had become a priority all of a sudden.

Patrol cars started making the rounds. The unmarked two-man attack unit showed up here about as often as Gage does. He had cops in the bushes up the street a ways. And we had a cop up the alley a ways tuned in, too. All the while, I called Joe with the latest New York plate numbers and he was very candid with me about where we were at. There were even a few occasions when he jumped in his car and headed right up here when I called. I was amazed almost as much as I was impressed. While all of this nonsense was going on, I remembered him saying something about if I ever saw anything that could "get him through the front door without a warrant," I should bang his cell phone number faster than Underdog could launch himself skyward.

One night I was sitting out front with my binoculars trained on the drug house when a previously unseen car with NY plates pulled in and parked at the end of the street. Two occupants went into the drug house, while unbeknownst to me, two others remained seated in the car. It was dark. Okay? Within seconds, another car parked behind it and it blocked my view of the plate number. So I grabbed a baton, a scanner, a pen and an index card and went for a stroll. And as I was standing directly behind the car scribbling down the plate number, two things instantly dawned on me. The first was that the two assholes were still in the car. Whoops! The second was that the odor emanating from that car smelled as if somebody went and torched a pot farm. I walked past the car hoping they hadn't spotted me, turned the corner, walked around the block and grabbed my cell phone. I dialed his cell phone number and that two-man attack car was here so fast I couldn't frickin' believe it. It took a slow cruise past the two druggies, turned around up the hill, came roaring back down, blocked the parked cars path of escape and hell seemed to break loose.

Within a second or two, guns were drawn, people were shouting orders, hands were in the air and the cavalry was arriving on Penn Avenue. The next thing I knew, the cavalry was charging into the drug house which had me somewhat confused. And before very long, there was a procession of handcuffed idiots led away to patrol cars. What was it that had gotten them through the front door without a warrant? As it turned out, when Penn Ave. turned into a cop convention, the idiots in the house were smoking crack right in front of the window and in plain view for all of the responding cops to see.

The drug house down at that end was no more. And the Vampire Queen in the stash house at the other end went running up the dark alley with a green garbage bag in her hands. After that night, Queenie was not long for this street thanks entirely to Detective Joe's constant follow ups on her activities. She has since been arrested for possessing drugs and her money landering business is no more. And guess who had a hand in that arrest?

A tireless, tireless, totally committed investigator?

And then some.

Coffay said he opted to focus his career on drug investigations because he feels drugs are the No. 1 crime problem. “Most police work is reactive. I like being proactive. You go out and make your own work, going out and doing investigations.”

I'm always out there on one of my bikes somewhere, and I quite often spot him sitting somewhere in his nondescript unmarked car with his Nextel in one hand and his binoculars in the other. I pedal past his house on most days and his car is rarely parked there. As a matter of fact, the last time I dialed his cell number he was staking out some druglord in the Jamaica section of Queens.

Cops tend to go where only bad things are happening, or are about to happen. And when the oft-well-publicized scrums happen, the cops tend get their fair share of laudatory press and whatnot. But it's the rarest of days when the cops doing the surveillance in the wee hours of the morning walk away with the awards. But this particular cop's dedicated efforts deserved to be recognized.

What did I call him while not trying to publish his name a ways back? Oh, yeah. Detective Expresso. Way to go, Expresso!

Keep it up.

As of this past Wednesday, I now have four, count 'em, four grandkids. Yepper. Jeremy Nate Cour has joined the ongoing fray that is this family. Funny, one of the guys at work suggested that I get a sidecar for the Rock Stomper. You ought not get my mind working in that direction. If that bicycle gets any heavier, we are going to cause small bridges to collapse under it's weight.

Anyway, the new addition is doing well, he's rather tall (long) and he has a serious set of lungs on him. Darn! I'm gonna have to babysit this kid on occasion, and that strong lungs thing is not something I'm looking forward to. Mom had a couple of problems, but she's doing fine now. They are both at home as I type all of this swill.

Mom wanted to name him Nathan, but his Dad wanted to name him after Eli Manning. Eli Cour? I have to admit, I was solidly in his camp. But Mom would have none of this New York Giants book of baby names, so they compromised. Hence, the Jeremy moniker. Being that she was exhausted and sedated, I'm not sure if she realizes that the kid is named after Jeremy Shockey. Hee! Hee! Can we get a #80 jersey small enough to properly fit a newborn? Hey, it could have been worse. How's about Plaxico Cour? Or Amani Cour? Tiki Cour, anyone?

We were treated to plenty of scary scenarios and whatnot, but in the end--everything worked out just fine. Trust me, I'm thankful. I'm just not sure who I should thank. Hopefully, I'll find out one day. By the way, thanks for all of the well wishes via the e-mail inbox. It was uplifting to know that anyone actually cared. Here's one that had a great quote attached to it:

From the e-mail inbox you , your family, and that baby are all in my prayers

We hear so much talk from people demanding their rights. I wish once... just once, someone would stand up and demand their responsibility. - Unknown.

Again, thanks.

For the longest time, there was only one baby to stare at through the window. And stare I did. And all of a sudden, Jeremy was carted in there and proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs for a solid two hours. (Yikes!) And before too, too long, the baby room got kind of crowded. I'm not one for getting all week-kneed and teary-eyed at the sight of a newborn baby, but I found myself drawn back to that viewing window every time I had happened to wander away from it. And I happened to see one of the newbies just snatched from the womb and being put through the motions while he vibrated uncontrollable and screamed away. And that's when I realized why this window kept drawing me back. I was watching this tiny boy freak out while drawing his very first breaths and I thought to myself, "How could anyone choose to kill that?" How could anyone be so utterly callous and so self-serving as to snuff out the development of such a beautiful little boy?

Call me a right-wing muckity muck if it makes you feel better about yourself, but I just can't understand what drives a person towards aborting that which we all claim to cherish the most. Namely, our children. If abortion doesn't make your skin crawl, I fail to see what could other than some six, or eight-legged cooties. And if you don't want your beautiful little boy, give me a buzz. I'll make room for him in my mostly deranged life.

Whatever. I'm going on and on, aren't I? I tend to do that. I never did know when to shut up, and I could care less if I ever manage to acquire such a skill.

Believe it or not, I failed to take a single picture of young Jeremy. It didn't dawn on me as I shot video after video. And being that I'm still clinging to my dial-up connection to the internet, I ain't sitting through the time it'd take to upload a video to this site. It's not like I won't be taking and sharing plenty of pictures of the newest rodent.

The Jints are playing them there Chiefs on a Saturday, and my brother is comin' on down here to hoot and hollar at the Panasonic with me. Everything's good and we're hoping that Jeremy's namesake has himself a record-setting day.

Have a good one.