1-19-2006 Only in Wilkes-Barre

A little heads up: My e-mail address is changing from zorcong@aol.com to zorcong@ptd.net as you are reading this. So if you've got something to contribute, if you simply want to take me to task, or if you want to send a few curses my way, that's the new address to use.

I always figured that if and when Wilkes-Barre ever got around to helping itself, we'd be enthusiastic, we'd be supportive and the daily controversies in the newspapers would pretty much become a thing of the past. I figured wrong.

I made my way through today's Voice story Planters Peanuts building to face wrecking ball without giving it a second thought. Cross-Continental Realty has been trying to develop that property for years now, but managed nothing more than acquiring the property on the cheap by promising to keep the Planter's Peanut "historic" facade in place when the construction was completed. Who cares? Not me. It's an old office building.

Now we learn that Mark Development has acquired the property from the Cross-Continental outfit and they have no intention of preserving anything that remains on the Planter's site. I'm good with that. If we were talking about the peanut store on the Square, I'd be singing a completely different tune. But that building on S. Main means absolutely nothing to me. But that's just me. And I'm somewhat mental.

On the other hand, Councildude Jim McCarthy believes that by turning that building into a museum we'd be able to attract "hundreds of thousands of visitors to Wilkes-Barre." I must respectfully disagree with his optimistic vision of the potential that building may, or may not have. And despite all of the Orwellian conspiracy theories being tossed around because of Dubya's decision to spy on those who feel the need to talk to terrorists, I still have that right. I don't see it. I don't see people making a pilgrimage to Wilkes-Barre for a bag of peanuts, or a keychain with Mr. Peanut's likeness on it. I don't see it. I know all about the Zippo museum in Bradford County. And I know all about the Crayola Crayon museum in Easton.

Older adult males, Harley riders and maybe some veterans of the rice paddies love those Zippos they grew up with, or torched a few 'vils with. And children from all over the world absolutely love those Crayolas. But who the hell loves Planter's Peanuts and collects peanut memorabilia other than the coal crackers that grew up in this region? I spent my formulative years in Connecticut and would have never even heard of Planter's except for gramma's habit of camping out on Public Square as often as she could.

In Connecticut, church groups, boy scout troops and girl scout trips regularly toured the Mars plant in Naugatauck. If memory serves, that plant produced Almond Joys, Mounds and York peppermint patties. I was there. It was amazing, but Willie Wonka was on vacation or some such thing. My boy scout troop filed into busses and visited the Bronx Zoo, the Hayden Planetarium, Yankee Stadium and West Point. But those were relatively short road trips from western Connecticut. My 6th-grade class trip amounted to a return trip to the Bronx Zoo. That was the day when I admitted to the world that I did in fact like girls and stuck to Joanne like white on rice.

But we didn't haul all the way to Philly to visit the zoo down there. And we didn't invest the necessary time and money to visit the Franklin Institute or a Phillies game. There are exceptions to every rule, but I think a peanut museum's drawing power is limited to being a regional thing. Would you drive from Derby, Connecticut to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for a bag of peanuts and a Mr. Peanut souvenir? We never did. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to Wilkes-Barre? I can't feature that.

If Mark Development wants to flatten that building, I sincerely do not care. But it should be duly noted that no one from the city's administration was quoted in the Voice's story. We got one side of the story. One developer promised to save the Planter's building, and now the new developer is making no such promise. Stay tuned as this city has no shortage of long-frustrated republicans that rush to pour Miracle-Gro all over anything that might sprout into a controversy.

Anyway, in my twisted mind, this was a non-story as it pertained to my radar screen. But not everyone processes things such as I do.

Guess who?

I tuned into Sue Henry's show only to hear our Prevaricator-in-Chief, Walter Griffith, slamming Tom Leighton for, 1. Allowing the "historic" building to be flattened and, 2. Giving it away to a developer so cheap. I don't even want to get into that except to say that vacant buildings and vacant lots do nothing for the city, the city's coffers, or the tax-paying residents. As far as the Planter's property is concerned, the city paid $100 to acquire it, then turned around and sold it for $230,000. Let's try this again: Can you say win-win? Walter can't.

And I quote Walter from today's show: "They gave that property away for $230,000." And get this, he was completely serious.

You wanna put him in charge?

But it got worse. Much worse. They say you can't believe what you read in the newspapers and judging by Walter's less than firm grasp of the facts--you can't believe what you hear on talk radio either.

Check this whopper. His nose has to be expanding at an accelerated rate. This is what he had to say to Sue--verbatim:

Well it's the same situation that happened with the fire station up in the Heights, er, up in the, I'm sorry, up in the Parsons section of Wilkes-Barre. The mayor sat there before council and told us specifically (garbled) bring that Pine Ridge development to that developer was that they were going to build a firehouse for free for the city.

Now they turn around three weeks later and say, Guess what? Our developer says they can't put a fire station there 'cause the lot's too small. Sorry we're gonna have to build one down the street.

So this is a constant on-going thing with this administration with council, is, he told council one thing and then three weeks later he changes his mind and doesn't tell council anything. And then he goes ahead and does what he wants to do. And the tax-payers end up payin'.

Whoa there!!! Popple Construction promised to build the city a free fire station? Where'd you get that info? From Wilkes-BarreDolts.com? Or was it something that came to you in a dream? A free firehouse?

You wanna put him in charge?

All rightee then! Let's try revisiting reality and listing a few FACTS, shall we?

The FACT of the matter is as follows. The developer in question promised to set aside a tract of land on Mayock Street so that the city could build a new firehouse to replace our shuttered Northeast Station, and the aged North Station. But...the higher-ups in the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department made the mayor aware of the FACT that that location was too far north for their purposes of protecting the public from all sorts of untold calamities.

Check this snippet from Leighton's speech of June 8, 2005:

A part of this comprehensive fire plan is the construction of a new firehouse here at Hollenback park. By doing so, the entire City of Wilkes-Barre will be better protected because of more centrally located fire houses and far superior equipment.

If we remember correctly, Leighton promised not to micro-manage the city's departments, and to trust the judgement of the department heads he has surrounded himself with. I'm assuming that it was Chief Lisman's opinion that Mayock Street is not exactly what most of us would call centrally located, and if I'm correct in assuming as much, I might add that he was entirely correct. So be it.

My point here is if we must debate the future of Wilkes-Barre, let's at least try to tell the truth when doing so. Calling the local radio station and spewing misrepresentations, if not outright untruths (lies), only further perpetuates the notion that Wilkes-Barre is fu>ked-up beyond all belief when that's really not the truth of the matter.

The Pine Ridge development is but another step in the right direction for Wilkes-Barre and it will increase the tax-base of the city. But in the phony activist's special place, it's somehow proof of corruption and mismanagement. You wanna put him in charge?

Sue, please put Kurt back on and ban Walter from the airwaves. I've called Kurt plenty of awful things, but I've never had to call him a liar.

A free fire station? The frustrated republicans in this county just keep on getting worster and worster.

From the e-mail inbox Like you I listen to WILK during work. You claim your not some partisan hack and you beat up Kevin and Nancy every chance you get. WILK plays wall to wall right-wing radio with the exception of there show. If your so open minded why do you need to attack the only libs on WILK all day long?

First off, I do not tune in to WILK to listen to "right-wing radio" all day long. I usually listen to most of what Chia Kev & Lil' Miss What-if have to mischaracterize. I make it a point to always listen to Sue. And more often than not, I catch most of Rush's show. And that's about it.

I don't know, it's the little things that twerk me off. Chia Kev recently referred to Sam Alito as being a "kook." Let's be honest, okay? Was that comment deserved? Has Alito done or said anything that would give you the impression that he's a kook? Again, be honest.

Chia Kev volunteered to inspect Noreen Clark's college-aged daughter's body for tattoos and piercings--live on the air. In any other work environment, he probably gets fired for volunteering for such a perverted thing. Would you be offended if some old grouch from work upped and volunteered to watch your daughter take a shower? I'm thinking that you would.

Chia Kev regularly promotes the use of drugs and alcohol on the radio. He recently boasted that he dates women half his age. And yet, he "teaches" at the University of Scranton. Do you want your daughter exposed to that sort of "professor?"

If you happen to disagree with Chia Kev on the air, you're called a drooler, a knuckle-dragger, or someone not capable of dealing with life without getting your daily marching orders from Rush. In effect, if you lean to the right, you're a Rush clone. But if you march to the drumbeat of the New York Times as he professes to doing--you are enlightened and entitled to belittle those who disagree with you on the issues. He is what he claims to hate the most--a hapless myrmidon.

He hates organized religions and hates anyone who doesn't hate organized religions. Put it this way, he claims moral authority over anyone claiming to have moral authority over anyone else. He is what he claims to hate the most--a hapless myrmidon.

This is a good one. He recently read a news story about how the European Union was set to launch a rocket, which would put in place the beginnings of a Global Positioning System completely independant of ours and the restraints our military places upon those countries seeking to utilize ours. And he suggested that this was a direct response to Bush's administration running roughshod over the entire planet. Take a guess. Do you think that European GPS system was on the drawing board for many years? Or did they whip it up in a matter of weeks because George Bush is a reckless cowboy? Think.

He sez he loves the cops, but bashes them every time they do their jobs. If he wants to get on my nerves, there is no quicker way of doing so.

I could go on and on with this repugnant sumbitch, but I won't.

In a nutshell, He's an aging stoner. He's an aging hippy still clinging to those hippy-dippy ideals that never amounted to anything of note. He got snookered by his college professors a long time ago, and he mistakes Marxism/Socialism for a viable plan. He's hopelessly partisan, but he tries and fails to present himself as being a thinking man lowered to tolerating the likes of us pond scummers.

If I had to encapsulate in one person all of the things I hoped my kids would never become, I'd point to Chia Kev. Need I say more? If I was responsible for the likes of him, I'd have blown out the pilot light a long time ago.

As for Nancy, she subjects us to his cretinous bullsh*t for profit.

I gotta go replace the medical tape that got scraped off of my knuckles this afternoon.

Rutro! Bucks County politics just won't go away. Part two of: "The Fitz" versus "The Murph."

From the e-mail inbox Marc,

Hope this finds you well. I do not care if you post the following story, but please send it along to our naïve King’s student Bill Fitzpatrick. I would love to see his response. I hope he can admit when someone makes a “honest” mistake.

Over at TalkingPointsMemo.com, Josh Marshall writes the following:

By George I think we've got it, or him, our congressional Bamboozler of the Day: Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

Back in the district (Bucks County, PA, etc.) Fitzpatrick is posing as a strong clean-up-congress man. But he's being asked why his first vote in Congress -- back in January 2005 -- was to loosen congressional ethics rules to cover for Tom DeLay.

His answer? He did it for Homeland Security.

From today's Bucks County Courier Times ...

Murphy [who's running for the Democratic nomination to oppose Fitzpatrick] pointed to Fitzpatrick's first day in Congress last January when Fitzpatrick voted to loosen ethics rules in the House in a move meant to help then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Those rules changes were later reversed in April and Fitzpatrick said last night that he only voted for them since they were part of a larger bill that included establishing a permanent Homeland Security Committee.

What Fitzpatrick is trying to hang his hat on here is that a bunch of rules were consolidated together into one vote. But Fitzpatrick was a loyal soldier for DeLay on this. There were a few Republicans who lamented the shame of this vote at the time. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) said "We are weakening our ethics laws. I think we've lost our minds. The power has gotten to our heads." Joel Hefley, who got purged from the Ethics Committee because he wouldn't toe the DeLay line, spoke out against it too.

As near as we can tell, Rep. Fitzpatrick never uttered a peep on this one.

He just made the vote like he was told.

When contacted by TPM, Fitzpatrick press secretary Jeff Urbanchuk declined comment, but assured us he'd relay our questions to the congressman and his chief of staff.

Have you heard a lamer excuse for toeing the DeLay line? If so, send it along.

Sounds like a challenge to me, man. Care to engage, local Fitz?

From the e-mail inbox As you know my father is a retired XXXXXX Police Officer. I have...

(The remainder of that e-mail was deleted--by me.)

"I would rather be tried by 12, then carried by 6."

Gotcha. Take the first shot.

I didn't know they had reckless cowboys in France. From a Reuters story dated 1-19-06:

France said on Thursday it would be ready to launch a targeted nuclear strike against any state that carried out a terrorist attack on French soil.

In a speech defending France’s costly nuclear deterrent and toughening policy against terrorism, President Jacques Chirac said Paris must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state’s centres of power and its “capacity to act”.

“The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part,” Chirac said during a visit to northwestern France, where France’s nuclear submarines are based.

“This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.”

Talk about being freaking clueless! From an AP story dated 1-18-06:

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton called for United Nations sanctions against Iran as it resumes its nuclear program and faulted the Bush administration for "downplaying" the threat.

In an address Wednesday evening at Princeton University, Clinton, D-N.Y., said it was a mistake for the United States to have Britain, France and Germany head up nuclear talks with Iran over the past 2 1/2 years. Last week, Iran resumed nuclear research in a move Tehran claims is for energy, not weapons.

"I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and chose to outsource the negotiations," Clinton said.

Outsource the negotitions? Is she mental, too? With both China And Russia sitting on the Security Council with veto votes in hand, does she honestly believe that Iran will be subjected to U.N. sanctions? Ain't happenin', folks. Ain't happenin'. The only way Iran will be forced to abandon it's nuclear ambitions will be when the air raid sirens get to wailing away.

Are you a tree-hugger?

Seem like a good place for a rubber dam?

Now that I went and bought me some super-charged, high-speed internet muckity-muck and such, I'm a gonna go investigate just how fast I can download me some tunes.

Needless to say, I've got tunes on the brain. Wanna do one? Try this from the Wachovia Arena dated June 24, 2005:

Def Leppard Video