1-24-2006 The good, the bad and the bloggers

I'm thinking that our local congressman/dam builder must have gotten himself another one of those Fedrule Govmint pork checks and upped and deputized his family members at, say, $100,000 a year. More on that a bit later.

The water-jet technology gig went bust, so now the future of Wilkes-Barre involves water again--chocolate water. Be it clean water, polluted water, or water so laced with frightful bacterial waste products it'd get the local emergency rooms put on full diversion iffin' we got too close to the river, it doesn't matter none. If the good congressman sez a deflatable dam will turn Wilkes-Barre into a smaller version of Baltimore's Inner Harbor tourist magnet--then who am I to question his utter brilliance? I'm a slug. What do I know? Mystery, Alaska still cracks me up to the point of near-puking.

I snagged the following snippet from a Times Leader story that greeted me when I climbed out of the rack this morning:

Kanjorski, mayor divide on $7.7M

NANTICOKE: It’s for project, says congressman. Bushko eyes $2.1 million for roads.

By MICHAEL P. BUFFER mbuffer@leader.net

Federal transportation grants would provide $7.7 million for a parking/retail complex in the city’s downtown, according to U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski.

But Mayor John Bushko has a different idea for spending $2.1 million of that money.

Bushko wants to use $2.1 million from two grants to repair designated city roads that can be fixed with federal funds, including Alden Road.

“That road should be done,” Bushko said, noting surface and drainage problems.

Alden Road is a link to key businesses in the city, such as Reilly Plating Co., Bushko said. He added that the city could also use the federal grants for other roads, such as Market, Prospect and Union streets.

Impact Pennsylvania Inc., a company based in Turbotville, Pa., has proposed the $7.7 million parking complex, which includes retail storefronts and office space, as part of a $23 million proposal to redevelop the city’s downtown.

Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, is a vocal supporter of the redevelopment plan.

While Wilkes-Barre certainly has it's problems, I'd much prefer to inherit Wilkes-Barre's tawdry list before I'd ever want to be put in charge of Nanticoke's flailing rebirth. I'm not putting anyone's gonads in a vice by saying that, I'm just being honest. The way I see it, Wilkes-Barre has tons of previously untapped potential. In Nanticoke, I see much, much less potential for any kind of relatively quick turnaround. Sorry, but that's the way it appears to me. I hope Nanticoke makes a big comeback. I really do. We all deserve better than what we've become accustomed to in this Cook County wannabe of a place.

Excuse me for being mental and all, but I've never understood how Nanticoke could be home to a long-term incumbent congressman and be in the condition it's in. In my mind, Paul Kanjorski is no Dan Flood. And the same thing applies to Wilkes-Barre before Tom Leighton got the keys to this city. I know he's delivered fedrule pork to study this, that and everything mundane and unworkable, but as far as I'm concerned--he's never done much of note as far as Wilkes-Barre's future was concerned. Quite frankly, I really don't understand why anyone from Nanticoke or Wilkes-Barre would vote for the guy.

I'm sure one of his underlings could send a well-prepared stinging rebuke my way, but being mental, I tend to over-simplify things as often as I can. To sum things up, what has the well-entrenched veteran of Washington D.C. done for my town? And what has he done for his hometown? While rotting away under his iron-fisted rule, both of these cities were reduced to being Act 47 basket cases. Both had empty downtowns. Both had serious infrastructure hurdles to clear. Both were reduced to deficit-spending, if not bouncing checks. And while both of these cities inched closer and closer to the abyss, what did he do about it? Cornerstone Technologies? A regional front-end loader graveyard?

The new-and-improved dikes are a feather in his cap. And so is the transformation of the various and sundry Blue Coal properties into industrial parks and whatnot. We might not get flooded again. And if I go and get myself fired, I can always head down to Hanover, grab me a job operating a forklift and then figure out how we'll make ends meet. Yeah, he fought to save Tobyhanna--whatever that means. Yes, some hillsides south of Wilkes-Barre are no longer scarred due to our coal-mining past. Yup, he managed to create new jobs in some industrial parks barely accessible to the folks that need those jobs the most.

But what about Wilkes-Barre? What has he ever done to counter the long and pronounced slide Wilkes-Barre was undergoing while I was trying, but failing to understand how such a great little city could turn to piddle so breathtakingly fast? I cursed and shook my fist at Tom McGroarty, the Chamber folks, and whoever else happened to pretend they were doing something to advance Wilkes-Barre's cause. And I spared Paul Kanjorski none of my typically juvenile internet outbursts. But I was less mad at the major players than I was horrified by what was becoming of the little town I chose to call my home.

Even though he looks like a mobster, I voted for Ed Rendell because he promised to come through for Pennsylvania's struggling smaller cities. And if Wilkes-Barre is any example, he delivered on that promise. As far as I'm concerned, Wilkes-Barre has no greater friend than Ed Rendell. Although, I'm still kinda peeved with him for skipping the '04 block party.

But back to what got me going off in the first place. What the hell has Paul Kanjorski done for my city? Dikes, an expanded veteran's hospital, and low-paying jobs in Hanover? That ain't cuttin' it for me while I'm watching Tom Leighton, Rick Santorum, Ed Rendell, Kevin Blaum, our County Commish types, City Council and the Chamber folks work together to bring to Wilkes-Barre what it needed all along--economic development funding.

Despite what the long-frustrated Republicans pretending to be selfless taxpayer watchdogs will tell you, we've got progress popping up all over the place with even more about to spring forth. And what does our congressman concern himself with? Well, he wants to play like he's the Mayor of Nanticoke and build a parking complex in an empty downtown. (?) And he also wants to create a sewage collection point just off of Wilkes-Barre's shoreline. The last time I checked, John Bushko was elected to serve as Nanticoke's mayor. And the last time I took a kayak paddle to the river, it was obvious to me that clean free-flowing water is always going to be preferable to damming polluted, sewage-strewn waters. I'm not sure what his legacy will end up being, but I'd prefer it if he continued to do what he always did for Wilkes-Barre--nothing.

Take your deflatable dam and shove it, sir.

And give Bushko at least a fighting chance to prove he's the right man for the job.

Check it out. The Kanjo posse is deputized and on the lookout for those bushwhackin' anti-dam varmints. They'll never take us alive unless they score a direct hit with those Colt water-jet repeaters of theirs.

And if that's not revolting enough, Dubya has those NSA satellites spying on the smallish adobe. (Much like how Bill Clinton had the NSA redirect it's satellites and spied on separatist groups after the Oklahoma City bombing.)

Oh no!!! Bush is spying on me!!!

The Fedrule Govmint has got me dead-to-rights. I just knew this blogging nonsense was gonna get me killed one day.

Opal!!! You hot lil' bitch!!! Shake that fu>kin' thing on over here and say your last goodbyes to Lonesome Cowboy Mark. You can have my moonshine, and my coodie-infested horse, but make sure they bury my six-shooters with me.

The good, the bad and the bloggers.

Yippy-Ty-O-Ty-Ay, you side-windin' sumbitches!!!

I've been down this road twice before, and it looks like I've been detoured back to it once again. Ask me if I care.

Read on, kiddies.

Another corporate acquisition

I've already talked to a couple of concerned co-workers, and I told them both the same thing: A corporate buy-out is frightening for the folks wearing the ties and carrying the briefcases. But, for the rank-and-file employees of a company deemed to be 'America's Finest' by it's peers in the industry, it's gonna be business-as-usual for the foreseeable future.

Sure, the new parent company will do some forensic audits and address any profitability and efficiency concerns they might have, but if you're best at what you do, there's no need to turn the entire program on it's head.

And no matter what changes the future might have in store for us, there's no way to conduct any business without having those boots-on-the-ground grunts content enough with their jobs to ensure that they will remain highly-motivated and always leaning towards doing what's right.

During my run on this ball, I've had four great jobs. And this is the third time the company I enjoyed working for has been bought-out. I really could care less. I will continue to be a self-motivated hard-charger, and if it comes to pass that my efforts are not good enough, well, so be it.

But I do have to tip my ballcap to both of our owners, Victor and Bobby Hammel. While I'll admit that some of their decisions may have annoyed me on occasion, they were always relentless in their pursuit of excellence. To demand perfection is foolhearty in most business climates, but these two guys came the closest to achieving said perfection that I've ever come across in the workplace. No company is called an industry leader by it's peers without having some ultra-capable people calling the shots from corporate.

I have no idea what the future may have in store for them, but their legacy is firmly cemented in place. They presided over 'America's Finest.'

How many people can make that claim in their chosen industry?

From the e-mail inbox Hi Markie,

I snagged this from today's TL:

A photograph of the building mid-demolition posted on the local blog Wilkes-Barre Online shows an interior wall spray painted in large, red block lettering that reads "I believe."

Times Leader

Not that you miss much, but I wanted to make sure. Congrats on the ISP upgrade, I have Adelphia and it beats the piss out of dial-up. I'm going to talk to Leonardi tonight and do a post on it. Other than Sue Henry it might be the only "press" he gets.

Stay cool,


Yeah, I saw that. It's a truly weird thing to see your name, or your web site mentioned in the local newspapers. It's even weirder to hear your name mentioned on a local talk radio show. Days ago, I escaped this valley to a much more bulolic spot in Bradford County. I paddled, paddled and paddled some more. And when I got back here to the adobe, I learned that Wilkes-Barre Online somehow came up on WILK, while a congressional hopeful was selling his political wares over the airwaves. And my immediate reaction was: How in tarnation did I get dragged into all of that?

I guess what it all amounts to is that despite the fact that we sit all alone with our keyboards on most days, we really do live our lives out there in public to some degree. That is to say, if you generate enough hits to your site you are living out there in public. While we may not be recognizable celebrities along the lines of, say, Kevin Lynn, Sue Henry or Andy Mehalshick, we do much the same thing they do, and sometimes people do pay attention to all of our zaniness. I imagine every blogger wants to be paid attention to, but blogging in general still defies description.

Are we cowards as Nancy Kman would have her listeners believe? Are we loose cannons with no attention being paid to restraint? Are we budding journalists in a fringe element sort of way? Are we all right-wing radicals who want to camp out in someone else's womb? Are we lib' tree-huggers with one hand on a protest sign and the other on something directly powered by a nuclear power plant? I figure this borderline idiocy we call the blogosphere encompasses a little bit of all of the aforementioned fun-and-games. And in my denuded mind, that's what makes it so much fun, if not mucho interesting.

The politicos, the well-heeled movers-and-shakers, the news anchors and the talk show hosts no longer have a stranglehold over what opinions are presented for public consumption...and which ones are not presented. That's exactly why Nancy Kman's 'Blog This!' temper tantrum on her blog page was so utterly delicious. Basically, she can't stand the competition. She can go on the radio and misrepresent things all she likes. And she can treat us to ridiculous what-if scenarios each and every day. But, if we do it...Whoa!!!...we're a bunch of gutless pansies hiding behind a keyboard and not worthy of second look. She's funny.

Unlike most, from day one, my blog was always an in-your-face sort of endeavor on a very grass roots scale. I never hid behind some clever screen name, and I never made it a secret as to where I lived, or how where I lived happened to color my perceptions of my city. I openly mocked the folks at the top of the political food chain, and even some of the pretenders to the throne. And with that in-your-face approach came many, many moments that were extremely awkward at best, if not chest-to-chest shoutfests. No problemo. I made my internet bed, and I gladly slept in it every step of the way. Despite what some chickee on the local radio station might lead you to believe, I do not hide behind anything. I'm out there. I'm always out there. And if you wanna scream at me, I figure I probably deserve it and I will listen to most of your outburst.

But while blogging with your name fully out in front of your deranged comments may have it's drawbacks, trust me, it also has it's rewards. I cannot even begin to tell you how many great people I've met, or have come to know, only because I made some serious noise on the internet a while back when a revolution was clearly called for in this city. I've made friends, my grandkids have their favorite Copper Dudes and their favorite Hose Dudes all picked out. And they've even been known to play inside the cabs of fire trucks on occasion. Wanna talk about broadening their horizons? Wanna talk about exposing them to stuff that most inquisitive 2, 3 and 4-year-olds never even get to see?

The other night, an adult friend of Gage's and mine dropped by the house. And after a bit of verbal niceties, Gage asked him why he was dressed-up like a cop? Gage has known this guy since he was first crawling. But he never even knew that he was a member of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department. And what does a 4-year-old boy gain by learning that one of his toddler buddies--one of his bikeabout pals--has an out-going cop for a Dad? He learns to trust the police. He learns that the police is not the enemy. He learns that the police are people, too. I could have told him as much, but he learned as much all by his lonesome. He'll never forget that lesson learned at such a tender age only because his lunatic of a grandfather chose to make his voice heard on the internet.

Make no mistake, blogging with your name attached to your efforts assures that you are living your life out there in the public. I first realized as much when a lady confronted by Gage--a lady that had never laid eyes on him before that day--commented about how big he had grown. Basically, she had been watching him grow up on the internet. That's totally messed-up, but that's what I set in motion five years ago. On another occasion, someone called Gage "Wilkes-Barre's most famous 2-year-old." Imagine that. That's freakin' nuts.

I like blogging. I think it's a hoot, and when conducted somewhat responsibly, it really can add to the local debate. I was recently told by a Wilkes-Barre police officer via the e-mail inbox: NOBODY IS RIGHT ALL THE TIME BUT..

Nobody is right all the time. Right! And that includes me and all of my madness. But until those commie-leaning Democrats find a way to stifle any further debate, I have the right to be wrong on the issues when I so choose. Everyone else is doing it, so why not the hoi polloi?

Much has been said about me, and much of it has been negative. But one guy--King's Journalist Dude--nailed me a ways back. He said:

His comments on prominent figures and their public doings are often sarcastic, but his fundamental love for his city and it's people is apparent.

It's unfortunate that I'm so acerbic, but it is what it is. It's too late to apologize now. I told you a few weeks ago to be careful about what you ask for. If what you seek is attention, be mindful that my example of how to get it might not be the best way of doing so. Your two seconds of fame can piss-off a lot of people that happen to possess really, really good powers of recall.

In conclusion, yes, my efforts somehow made the back page of the local newspaper today. But the question begs: Who's mad at me because of it?

Doesn't much matter to this chucklehead. I'll sleep well no matter what anyone else thinks. Fact is, blogging is not something the thin-skinned should ever dare to undertake. If you doubt that great advice, consider the complete laughing-stock Nancy Kman made of herself when she tried it.

I had better cool it. Everybody hates me the way it is.

Blog on, dude!

Nite nite