2-16-2006 J.J. vs. Hayward?

``I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.''--Benjamin Franklin

What an antiquated notion.

J.J. vs. Hayward?

That’s what it said in the subject line of the e-mail listed below.

Let’s see here. I recently encouraged our current city administrator to seek Kevin Blaum’s seat and I also pointed out that I would prefer to be raped repeatedly by Rosie O’Donnell than to vote for our current city administrator’s immediate predecessor. And having done so I fully expected to generate some feedback via the e-mail inbox. Thanks for the e-mailed comments folks, but I’ve decided to post only the following e-mail because it was the only one that didn’t come across as vindictive or childish or both.

Before we go on, let’s state the obvious. The current administration is producing tangible, measurable results. The previous administration never did produce much of anything of note except unpaid and grossly overdue debts.

Sez me.

From the e-mail inbox Excuse me but JJ was also a part of McGroarty's Administration. You recently praised JJ but now Hayward is no good. The articles you posted mostly beat up McGroarty, JJ and Jim were the administrator and assistant. Do you like JJ just because you know him? JJ is more like McG then anyone, the I Believe was JJ's idea, big show no go.

Checkout how interested Brian O'Donnell is in the job he is selling his business on EBAY


If that optometry business changes hands because the link appeared here, do you and I get a commission fee?

The foregoing e-mail was sent along anonymously, but I think it’s fairly easy to assume it was submitted by a city employee. I’ve heard the complaints about J.J. Murphy plenty of times over. I was talking to someone earlier today who described the whining about J.J. as follows: “These people don’t understand what management is all about.” Well, something to that affect. 10-4.

In many respects, the executive team in charge of a third class city operates much like that of a management team running a business venture. The general manager collects the available data and suchlike, plans the budget, draws the game plan and then sets the course, if not the overall tone of the operation. Much of his time is then devoted to paperwork, bookkeeping, meetings, meetings, more meetings, customer relations, charity events, publicity events and community-minded events.

When I was a general manager, I worked a 55 hour workweek, devoted a day off to catching up on paperwork, donated my time to WVIA, cleaned local parks, attended city council and PENNDOT meetings, and got criticized by my district manager for wearing rock T-shirts in public on my other day off. “What if one of your customers saw you dressed like that?” God forbid.


And when I was “off-duty,” my phone had this nasty habit of ringing all day long, despite my constant prodding of my direct underlings to make a freaking decision and go with it-right or wrong. If the decision was the correct decision, I’d let them know about it the next day. And if it wasn’t the right decision, they’d hear about it just as quick, but they’d appreciate it a helluva lot less.

Just shy of my 30th birthday, I finally wised-up, went home and told wifey out-of-the-blue that I was going to make my escape from the hospitality industry. Fact is, the restaurant business was the only thing I had ever done to that point in my life. I was almost 30-years-old, but I was a 17-year veteran of the restaurant wars. Needless to say, the better half was worried. But I stuck to my guns and entered the wonderful world of warehouse management. It turned out to be the perfect RX for that which ailed me.

But here’s the scoop on all things management as they pertain to the oft-disgruntled employees. Employees complain. That’s what they do. Raises, perks and bennies are taken for granted almost as quickly as they are received. No matter how much you come through for your employees, during the day-to-day grind of performing their assigned duties, they tend to gripe about the folks who’s decisions affect their daily grind the most--namely, management.

The thing is, they typically know not of which they bitch, unless they’re working for the biggest maroon they’ve ever had the misfortune to work under. Personally, I never cared who had what to say, or what they thought of my style or my operational decisions as long as they did what they were told to the letter. I didn’t care what they thought, I only cared about what they did. My responsibilities were to please my customers, my district manager and the corporate bean counters. I did not work for the employees, they worked for me. And if they didn’t like working for me, Denny’s would gladly scoop them and their superior training up with promises of an extra quarter earned per hour worked.

And while my underlings would wonder aloud about why I would be so willing to lose a good employee who performed well, I would tell them I’d rather lead contented folks of lesser abilities than have to constantly soothe the much more talented malcontents. You know the gig, if you don’t frickin’ like it here, then leave. End of problem.

New Blue Cross parking lot

If you think J.J.’s a hard-ass, be thankful you never had to deal with me. But I digress.

Back to the e-mail:

Excuse me but JJ was also a part of McGroarty's Administration. You recently praised JJ but now Hayward is no good. The articles you posted mostly beat up McGroarty, JJ and Jim were the administrator and assistant. Do you like JJ just because you know him? JJ is more like McG then anyone, the I Believe was JJ's idea, big show no go.

You are correct. J.J. Murphy was in fact a member of Tom McGroarty’s administration, but I clearly pointed out as much when I egged him on to run for Kevin Blaum’s seat in Harrisburg. However, Murphy was hired after the Titanic had already struck a seemingly unending flotilla of rather sizeable icebergs. The ship was already listing very, very badly when Murphy came on board. The damage was done and I fail to see why J.J. Murphy should share in the blame.

The articles I posted mostly beat up on Tom McGroarty. Again, you are correct. Believe me, those were just the tip of the iceberg. I posted those for two reasons. The first was to try to remind folks just how deep we had sunk as a city. No city should have to go through what this city went through during the tail end of McGroarty’s reign of failure. It was awful. It was disheartening. And it was damn near a kill shot as far as this city’s future is concerned.

Then there’s the other reason I posted what I did. During the latter stages of McGroarty’s second term when the flattened financial wheels were obviously falling off, both the city administrator and city spokesperson--The Haywards--constantly ran cover for McGroarty. He wouldn’t talk to the press in any meaningful sense. He refused to attend city council meetings. He refused to provide details or figures to anyone concerned. And he pulled some really underhanded nonsense on those he viewed to be political enemies.

Do a Google search of your own. I still have the clippings on file, but the past is there on the internet for all to read. One day the city spokesperson stands before the press saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with the city’s mainframe computer in direct response to councilman Jim McCarthy‘s complaints. And then three short days later the spin is that the mainframes having completely crashed was really no big deal, even though the city did not have a maintenance contract in place to fix the damn thing. I may be mental, but that’s not what I’d call transparent government.

In all fairness to Jim Hayward, he should not be branded for life because of his former boss’ various and tawdry sins, but he was McGroarty’s second-in-command and I do not believe he had no idea about how bad the city’s worsening financial crisis was as the official line from city hall remained ‘all is well.’ I’ve said as much before and I’ll say it again. If I was McGroarty’s second-in-command while the city teetered on the brink of Act 47 status and was put in the position he was, I would have handed over my two-week notice rather than continue on with the charade that bordered on mayoral malfeasance, if not criminality. And that’s not just boastful talk. Been there, done that.

Many moons ago I attempted to resign from my general manager position, so the division manager drove up here from Horsham to smooth things over between me and my district manager. You see, my district manager was promoting incompetent women to management positions only after they treated him to a spread-eagled romps at a local motel. He was later charged with multiple counts of sexual harassment. And…he was terminated for embezzling company funds. When the big division honcho asked me over a cup of coffee what we needed to do to work things out, I turned and eyeballed my district boss and replied as follows: “I’d rather wash dishes for five dollars an hour than spend another month working for this useless fu>k.” Burn that bridge, boy. Burn! Burn!

My sole point is I’d prefer to maintain some semblance of professional dignity and integrity over any hefty paycheck that requires me to pretend that all is well when it obviously is not. Either do it right, or don’t do it at all. The thing is, McGroarty couldn’t have kept such a tight lid on the disturbing truths without some assistance. And it is for that reason that I will not vote for anyone purported to be a part of his inner circle. I won’t. Fair or not, that’s where I’m at.

New Hollenback Station

Do you like JJ just because you know him?

Um, to put it bluntly--YES. Would it make things better if I said I liked him as a candidate because I didn’t know him? Then I’d be no better than the majority of the brain-dead folks who vote for a party over a candidate. Yeah, I’ve gotten to know him somewhat. So what? In my mind, that makes me an informed voter. Trust me, I’m not awestruck, or utterly thrilled to be able to say as much. He may be the city administrator, but he puts his shin guards on one leg at a time, just like the rest of Hockey County.

This reminds me of something Jon Fox from The Times Leader said to me when he was inquiring as to why I am so supportive of Tom Leighton’s efforts as mayor so far. He said something along the lines of “Some seem to think that you’re in with the Chamber crowd. In with the movers and shakers.” Something like that. It’s too bad he didn’t include my response in the story he eventually submitted to his editors. I said: “If Steve Barrouk ran me and my bike over on a city street, he probably sue me for damaging his car.” In with the Chamber crowd? Jeez. Give those people a little bit more credit than that.

He also seemed to think that I’ve known Tom Leighton longer than is actually the truth. If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you already know that Tom Leighton had the misfortune of running into me during the run-up to McGroarty’s eventual electoral demise. I don’t know what he wanted me to say. Um, I was the point guard on Leighton’s championship team and I’m married to his sister? Do I like J.J. Murphy because I’ve gotten to know him? Well, DUH! But know this, if I didn’t like him, I’d have absolutely no qualms about saying as much. What’s one more person looking to turn me into a hood ornament? Get in line.

…the I Believe was JJ's idea, big show no go.

The “I Believe” pep rally was J.J. Murphy’s idea? I’ve heard that many times, but I have no idea who set all of that in motion. I never bothered to ask because, quite frankly, I really do not care. If it’s really important to some of you, I will ask. I’m in with this crowd. (?)

The speculation ran rampant before Tom Leighton finally took to making his speech, and as soon as he said it wasn’t about bricks and mortar, I knew right then and there that it would go over like a lead balloon in a progress-starved city such as ours. But I admired him for standing before us and trying to generate some pride and excitement in the city where none had previously existed. This is a city in which too many of the residents seem to have resigned themselves to expecting and accepting far less than they had ever hoped for. This has become a city with very low expectations.

And then along came Leighton basically saying, Come on people. Progress is well on it’s way. Cheer the fu>k up already. Dare to believe for a change. As a result, he was roundly criticized for having the gumption to do such an unthinkable thing. What people wanted was to see the mythical “magic wand” unveiled for all to behold and marvel over. And after that event concluded, he would wave his magic wand from high atop the PNC Bank building, magic dust would settle over the entire city and we’d wake up the next day to find ourselves living in a city destined to be named America’s Bestest Place Ever forever more. Just like that.

Basically, the rampant speculation did-in the entire event in many people‘s minds, but I think what he had to say that day was completely justified, if not right on the mark. It takes me back to my comments about managing a successful retail operation.

“… I’d rather lead contented folks of lesser abilities than have to constantly soothe the much more talented malcontents. You know the gig, if you don’t frickin’ like it here, then leave. End of problem.

With upwards of $200 million in economic development being invested in this city as of this very moment, if you don’t believe--if you won’t believe--if you steadfastly refuse to believe--then nothing anyone ever has to say or do will make you believe. And if that’s the case, then hit the road and take your limited, negative mindset with you.

It’s probably silly to believe. Why stick your neck out? Why take the chance? It opens you up to criticism if what you profess to believe in doesn’t pan out in the end. Ask any Phillies fan about all of that. But this isn’t sports we’re talking about. It’s not the NCAA. It’s not NASCAR and it’s not the NBA. This is our home. This is a place that is ultimately defined by the lot of us. And if we can’t dare to start believing in ourselves, how can we expect those looking at us from afar to believe that this would make for a great place to relocate to? We keep demanding that the Chamber folks sell this city to outsiders, but we keep selling it short every chance we get. I can’t feature that.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, we now have some capable leadership in place. That, at least to me, no longer seems to be in question. So you either believe, or you don’t believe. And if you don’t believe, more believable confines are beckoning to you to seek them out.

So…do it.

An excerpt:

June 9, 2005

At the beginning of my term, the perception in Wilkes-Barre was that the City was DEAD and had no future. Upon taking office, I encountered: $10.8 million dollars of unpaid bills, streets that needed immediate paving, countless stalled projects, like the infamous hole in the ground, crime and drugs, low morale throughout the City workforce, residents and visitors, unsuitable equipment and city owned buildings in poor condition.

No hope could be found in our City. No one believed in our future.

Ask yourself right now, ARE YOU JUST ANOTHER PERSON WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE IN WILKES-BARRE? If you are, I ask you to listen to my words this evening, because for those of us who do have faith, we cannot win this battle by ourselves or by taking shortcuts. There will be days when we hit bumps and get knocked down, but I can tell you, when we get knocked down, we will get back up and complete our job. WE WILL NOT STAY DOWN, WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. We must stay strong and have a POSITIVE BELIEF in the City and in ourselves.

The question we must ask ourselves is: Do we want to be successful or do we want to live with failure?

Answer that latter question and then act accordingly.

From the e-mail inbox Let me see if I get this right: in smarmy, liberal America-ville, it’s cool to:

-celebrate a painting of the virgin Mary covered in dung;
-a picture of Jesus marinating in urine;
-a play in which Jesus is depicted as gay;
-and TV shows and movies that mock Christ and Christianity

but it is uncool to run a Danish cartoon slamming Islam’s irrational rage, because that would be a “gratuitous assault” on the Muslim religion?

From the e-mail inbox The Balloonist And The Fisherman -

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

"I am,"replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."


Zach & Jeremy

I definately have to roll. Wifey has whipped up some whacked-out concoction consisting of Sloe Gin, orange juice and a mystery ingredient. Wish me luck.


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