1-2-2006 Sotally tober?

I enjoyed myself a bikeabout early this morning, and the pace was quite brisk by design. Rather than looking to lazily tour this city as I so often do, my sole intention was to work up a serious, serious sweat. My job description has been altered just a tad for the upcoming termite season, which means that a much greater percentage of my work will be industrial type work. Very physical, if you will. And depending on how things get scheduled...that sort of work can wear you down over the course of the season. So for the next two months, I'll be pedaling, lifting weights and doing enough push-ups to kill most people half my age.

By the way, Kayak dude...you can count me in on that kayak trip. But I think the 9th is out. Ice cubes for gonads? Yikes! I'll call you.

Anyway, I tipped the scales at 191 pounds this morning. But have no fear. When I get back to protecting both residential and commercial structures from the only insects that can digest cellulose eight short weeks from now, I'll be carrying 16 less pounds around with me. I'm going back very lean and mean. You know, getting old ain't so bad iffin' you don't feel so old.

A very brisk walkabout is scheduled for tommorrow morning, so take a dozen eggs with you while heading off to work.

Good hunting.

This is from The Beacon, the student run newspaper at Wilkes University:

Annual safety report indicates serious crime down, alcohol incidents up

By: Dana Zlotucha

Issue date: 12/5/05 Section: News

Each year Wilkes University, in accordance with the Federal Right To Know Act, publishes the "For Your Safety" security report.

The report provides information on the number and types of laws that are broken on or near campus each year, as well as statistics on how each instance is handled by Public Safety and other University officials.

Recently, Wilkes officials released this year's report. A comparitive analysis of the statistics indicates that overall area crime has remained fairly steady. But a shift in the level of crime indicates that more serious personal crimes have decreased. While more serious crimes, such as vandalism, assault, and burglary have decreased, there has been an increase in other alcohol-related crimes, such as underage possession/drinking, public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct.

"A lot of these crimes, you can't prevent them, they are individual crimes of opportunity: vandalism, public intoxication, underage drinking. These are the things you see at a college campus," explained Christopher Bailey, Director of Campus Support Services.

Gerald Rebo, Manager of Public Safety Patrol Operations, said that the increase in documented incidents was due to the more active role that public safety officers have had on campus over the last few semesters. "The officers now are patrolling [farther] away from [the central part of campus], down to the off campus housing…and to the apartments."

The officers are also almost constantly patrolling campus instead of staying at one post or working behind a desk. "You see more officers out there, interacting with the students…with more officers you see around, you feel safe, and the perpetrators are also [deterred]" added Rebo.

Bailey commented that proactive measures are taken for "Crimes that we can prevent, like petty theft. [For example], we make sure buildings are locked down and prevent theft from within the University that way."

"Wilkes is providing a better level of safety and overall security today. Our ability to respond to instances is much greater and more effective, and we have a much more conscientious group of officers, a much more professional organization" stated Bailey.

Rebo noted that the watchful eyes of public safety officers on campus have inspired greater confidence among faculty and students in the relative safety of the Wilkes campus. The crime on campus "Is very low compared to that of the city…we don't have the violent crimes like [the city] does," added Rebo.

Drinking? I never did that when I was in college. I was the founder and president of the Bible Study Club.

(Wink. Wink.)

Then we've got this from The Crown, the student run newspaper at Kings College:

Wilkes-Barre Cracks Down on College Parties - Casey Morgan

Wilkes-Barre has been cracking down on college parties due to the increase in residents' complaints. Loud music, littering, and public annoyances have forced new mayor Thomas Leighton to increase police patrolling. When former mayor Thomas McGroarty was in office, most of the residents' complaints were ignored, allowing parties to spiral out of control.

“My leadership allows the department heads to run their own departments,” Leighton says. Any complaints the police receive will be acted upon. The Wilkes-Barre Police and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board have applied for a grant that would allow more officers to patrol.

But let it be known that Wilkes-Barre Police are not actively looking for parties to disband. “If there are no complaints, you're not going to see the police,” Leighton says. This increase in patrolling should not be a surprise to students. Mayor Leighton, the Chief of Police, the District Magistrate, and the Fire Chief all met with the off-campus students to warn them about patrolling and how they will be acting upon each complaint that they receive. For other students with questions, the mayor has volunteered to sit with all who wish to meet with him. His willingness to speak civilly with students was something unseen with Mayor McGroarty. In the past, students walked out of meetings with McGroarty because he elected to yell at the students instead of talking to them.

Many Wilkes-Barre officials attended King's, including the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief, and the mayor. According to Leighton, they're not out to make trouble for students or ruin their records. The mayor knows the seriousness of an underage drinking charge on an individual's record, and he doesn't want that for students. Police also don't want to arrest students unnecessarily, not because they are or are not breaking the law, but because they don't have time to spend tied up writing reports.

“To me it feels like I haven't been out of college that long,” Leighton says, “so I still consider myself young at heart.” But college drinking has changed since Leighton attended King's. Littering and vandalism have become bigger problems since the 70s and 80s. There were still problems then, too, but people partied differently. Students seem to get into trouble now even walking between parties. “I don't want to say the kids seemed more mature back then, but I think they knew the responsibilities of trying to avoid attention,” Leighton says. “Today it appears they're looking for attention”.

Vandalism and urination on residential properties have been reasons for recent complaints. “That's what these students have to remember,” Leighton says. “Reverse the roles. Put your mother, father or grandparents in these homes, and think about it before you throw that beer bottle or urinate on your grandmother's front yard.” Another big difference between then and now is the location of the parties. In the past, they were centralized in Margarita, now our Alumni Hall. Presently, they span Main and North streets to Union , which translates into a longer walk for students. The question is, if parties weren't centralized in Mayor Leighton's day, would there have been just as many problems as we have today?

Though the Wilkes-Barre Police and Mayor Leighton are concerned for the students' well-being, it is not their job to warn students constantly about the dangers of drinking. Schools should be warning their students, Leighton says. There were 1,700 college student deaths reported last year due to alcohol, according to New Mexico State 's Panorama . There has been some progress in recent years, though. This could be due either to schools teaching students about the dangers of drinking, or to students just wising up. Whatever the reason, hopefully the percentage will continue to fall.

No more towing of the kiddies cars at 7 am on a Sunday morning?


The NEW North Station

From the e-mail inbox

Let's talk Grafitti and Stuff

Some time ago Mayor Thomas Leighton issued a proclamation stating in essence that anyone allowing graffiti to remain on their building / wall / sidewalk / gluteus maximus for more than a few days would be fined. Well, it isn't happening! Don't believe me? Just waltz up Pennsylvania Avenue north of the Turkey Hill and gaze upon the warehouse on the corner, the bar next to King Tut and the building attached to Benco. Graffiti has been there for months. Fines? Zero.

Need more? How about looking at the (Biscontini) Distribution Center now being used for beer storage I believe? Graffiti for months - fines. Zero.

If there IS any real enforcement of the Graffiti rule it would seem that there is a real double standard in our fair city, as in rules depend on whom you know.

There is another fascinating story re the KOZ. According to Hoyle to get KOZ status you have to register a NEW business or whatever. If that is so, how is it that a few established restaurants, favorite haunts of the "Movers and Shakers" in W-B when they aren't having brandy and cigars at the Westmoreland, have gotten those exemptions?

Oh and while we're at it - let's talk Chamber of Business and industry whose main function seems to be arranging parties and discount Penguins tickets for its members rather than trying to get the business climate in WB improved by lowering or eliminating the business and privilege taxes and actually obtaining services for its members for the taxes they DO pay!

Mayor Thomas Leighton issued a proclamation?

Um, actually...I believe it was more like city council passed a new city ordinance wherein it was written that property owners had 15 days to eradicate grafitti, or they'd be fined. How many folks have been fined? Ya got me, but aren't you making an assumption by claiming that zero fines have been doled out? And if the grafitti you speak of has been there for months, I'm wondering if you ever once called the city and complained about it.

Biscontini's? What's that? Proof that the rich folks don't get threatened with fines? The back side of the building along the railroad tracks looks like a grafitti museum. So? So what? Who the hell even sees it other than Luzerne County's last train conductor? Do you know something I don't? The politicians get free beer if they ignore the grafitti that they can't see?

If there IS any real enforcement of the Graffiti rule...

The enforcement--the warning process--is the responsibilty of both our police officers and our building inspectors. They do not go out on grafitti patrols, rather, they are supposed to write warnings to property owners while out and about doing their jobs. At least, that's the way I understand the program. So, if some grafitti has been evident to you, but not to them for months on end, either they missed it, the grafitti initiative has slipped their minds, or they simply do not care. In any event, call 821-1111, complain about it and then wait and see if they respond to your complaint. I'd be willing to bet that they would. And if they do not respond in a timely manner, call the Times Leader and bitch. The Times Leader would never pass up a chance to bash Wilkes-Barre on Page 1.

Although, with everything--good and bad--currently going on in Wilkes-Barre, if this the best you've got? The rich and powerful don't get fined for grafitti? Really? Call the folks at the Chamber and ask them about how the city demanded that they police a couple of their newly-acquired buildings. Do it. You started this. Educate yourself. It won't hurt. I promise.

I'm sure the road to reverse-gentrification was paved with entirely good intentions. But grafitti is almost the least of my concerns right about now.

There is another fascinating story re the KOZ. According to Hoyle to get KOZ status you have to register a NEW business or whatever. If that is so, how is it that a few established restaurants, favorite haunts of the "Movers and Shakers" in W-B when they aren't having brandy and cigars at the Westmoreland, have gotten those exemptions?

I'm not sure what you want from me. Weren't those KOZ zones set up in, like, 1998 or something? Our current administration had nothing to do with any of that, but there's no denying that some sleazy political stuff figured into it. Kanjorski's underling's restaurant was granted KOZ status? Why? So he could expand, or create new jobs? When? During this life, or some afterlife? The connected dude was excused from paying taxes on his established business. That's it in a nutshell. That's why we should never spend a plug nickel in there.

They can have their brandy and cigars. I ain't losing any sleep over it, so why should you?

Oh and while we're at it - let's talk Chamber of Business and industry whose main function seems to be arranging parties and discount Penguins tickets for its members rather than trying to get the business climate in WB improved by lowering or eliminating the business and privilege taxes and actually obtaining services for its members for the taxes they DO pay!

Ah, the Chamber of Commerce. Here we go!!! If I were to venture a guess, I'd have to predict that this is the only retarded area in the entire country that hates it's Chamber of Commerce with reckless abandon. If you ask me, obsessing over one's local Chamber is ultimately unhealthy, if not completely worrisome. They get discounted Penguins tickets? Okay? So, does that mean we should be wishing them ill? Discounted tickets? Like I give a flying f>ck! Is your axe in need of grinding, or are you one of them?

You know, one of them. The folks that hate the Chamber because they blame the Chamber for their own lack of viable job skills and earning potential? Does your job suck? Does knocking yourself out day-in and day-out for a measly $6.50 an hour got you blaming others for your obvious shortcomings? Is your piss-poor credit rating Steve Barrouk's fault? Could he make it all up to you by putting your name on the discounted tickets waiting list?

I don't know what to tell you. You bitch anonymously, which gives me no clue as to where you're coming from. Cripes! You didn't even use a pseudonym! For all I know, you might reside in The Maples, but you're pissed off because your neighbors mansion is larger than yours by 2,000 square feet. Or maybe you're a Turkey Hill clerk all twisted out of shape because you got written up for not rotating the peanut butter cups.

But I gotta tell ya, grafitti, KOZ zones and what the Chamber boys are up to ranks way down there near the bottom of my list of hot-button issues that affect Wilkes-Barre. In fact, when I first spied your e-mail, I was kind of scratching my assimus maximus as to what your motivation might be. It's a good thing you didn't sign your name to any of that muckity muck. You remind me of Linda Stets calling WILK last week and bitching about sunken storm sewers despite the fact that the city has replaced--at last count--330 of them during the past two years alone.

Straight up, is there anything positive going on in Wilkes-Barre of late? Anything at all? Think hard. Get back to me iffin' you actually identify one positive development going on in this city. Take your time.

Rather than trying to get the business climate in WB improved???

Are we talking about the same Chamber of Commerce?


Pine Ridge

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

I was not real big on this I Spy business until you said

Does Bob call Rob and whine on cue about not having enough cops on the payroll? Earth to fu>king Bob! Earth to dipsh*t Bob! Cameras are much, much cheaper than cops!

Cameras are cheaper than cops.

You are correct, sir.

SXXX @ *Up the street a ways*

Ain't it? Excuse me. Heyna?

Check this letter the Times Leader published:

Posted on Mon, Jan. 02, 2006

Kids’ cartoons too leftist for Christmas

What were you thinking? On Christmas, Sunday morning, your paper chose to display two full pages of political cartoons by our youth. Fine.

But by choosing almost entirely anti-Bush, anti-FEMA, anti-big oil and anti-Rove cartoons, you expose either our leftist teachers’ successful indoctrination of our youth, your own bias or both. Including an anti-Christian cartoon showing Bush relying on God for all his decisions, on Christmas morning, earns you a full stocking of coal.

Joe Raich Tunkhannock

Actually, I found all of that to be somewhat sick. Since when do we worry about what eighth-graders think about something they are not fully capable of understanding? Since when do we encourage teenagers to become ad-hoc political pundits? Since when? When I was taking up space in the eighth grade, I knew not of the intracacies of politics, and reporters at that time knew as much. Oh, how times have changed.

When I saw all of the Democratic talking points turned into comic strips by Generation Zit, two things crossed my mind. Either those kids were repeating what they heard over and over and over again from the Bush-bashing press. Or they were repeating what their Northwest Area teachers had taught them.

If you ask me, we should put the f>cking teachers on Ritalin. Then we'll see how the world reacts to teachers going Columbine when the Ritalin wears off and the anti-social behavior kicks in. Did you ever wonder why the medical examiners and the courts always seal the medical records of the kids that engineer the school massacres? Did you ever notice that?

The feminization of boys by prescription has been going on for years now. If the kid exhibits behaviors that used to add up to boys being boys, the teachers want that little bastard medicated. But when the medication eventually turns the kid into an out-of-control mercenary, his medical records get zipped tighter than Hillary's legs when Bill is within twenty yards.

Don't take my word for it. You know how to operate a search engine. Look into the usual side-affects of Ritalin that the medical community knows all about.

WARNING: Side-affects include mass murders during study hall.

N. Washington Street. So who owns this failing bridge?

Guess what? The groundbreaking ceremony for the new street lights will happen next week.

Oh, and if that's not fun enough, Senator Rick Santorum will be in Wilkes-Barre Thursday afternoon with one of those oversized seven figure checks in tow. I'll see y'all at the press conference. Got nuthin' else to do 'cept work-out and whatnot.

My headphones are calling to me.

By the way, how was your big New Year's weekend? Are we feeling okay? Sotally tober?