2-21-2006 The nitwits have spoken

Now, the biggest obstacle that we must overcome is the negative attitude of a small, but pervasive, segment of our population. These people who are petty, jealous, constantly complaining and always negative do not share the dreams and goals of the people standing here with me today. Our future is bright and we cannot let the lack of enthusiasm of a few darken the future for us all.

If we embrace this negative attitude, we are not only failing the City, but we are failing ourselves.--Tom Leighton, June 9, 2005

Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.--Michael Pritchard

I was in a good mood when I wobbled my way downstairs this morning. What’s not to like when you’re laid-off? Lemme see. What should I do today? Cruise the internet wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a John Deere ball cap? Fire up the Hummer and pedal my way from one end of the city to the other? Crank up the stereo and watch an ashtray vibrate it’s way across the coffee table? How ‘bout consuming mass quantities of fermented weeds? That’s always a top vote-getter in these here parts. Hmmm. Questions, questions, questions flooding through the denuded mind of the semi-sane semi-young person today.

Let’s start by reading the local newspapers, shall we?

Here’s a good one. The Diamond City Partnership is going to pool it’s resources and hire itself a paramilitary force to enforce a cease-fire throughout the downtown. Cool. Kind of reminds me of the days when we used to stalk the overnight security guard at Coal Street Park, pelt him with eggs and run like hell. They tell me that sort of thing is frowned upon these days.

According to the county sheriff, the Hugo Selenski trial is going smoothly so far. So what’d he expect? Hugo to bolt for the window with a rope crafted from soiled jailhouse handkerchiefs? Yeah, he’d toss juror #7 out of the window, climb half way down the sticky handkerchiefs and then use the shell-shocked juror to cushion his landing.

A structure fire in S. Wilkes-Barre. I listened to this one on the scanner. There was something suspicious about this one from the get-go. First an explosion and then banter from firemen the likes of which I’ve never heard before: “We got strange flames. Something’s going on in there. Watch yourself.” Less than a minute later the 911 telecommunicator chimed in with: “…exit the building per command! Exit the building per command!” Yikes. There are safer ways of paying the mortgage.

What’s this? Ah, the hapless nitwits are spinning their peculiar brand of nitwittery again. This is fairly easy to follow. According to the factually-challenged, a dance club will be the death of us all. I’m thinking these people have a future in politics iffin’ they relocate to Wilkes-Barre Township and promise to fight against progress every step of the way.

Nekkid women behind closed doors? Not on my small-minded watch! My kinfolk are frightened by boobies. That’d be the death of us all.

A dance club will ruin an empty downtown? Now, our oft-boisterous nitwits are rarely capable of generating coherent thoughts, but what sort of illogic is that? These are the type of people that would issue a condom to a junior high school boy, and expel him when he was caught trying to use it. A dance club will ruin an empty downtown? Only in Wilkes-Barre, kiddies. Only in fu>king Wilkes-Barre will you find this sort of idiocy paraded before the media on a regular basis.

Our future is bright and we cannot let the lack of enthusiasm of a few darken the future for us all.

Yeah, I follow all of that, but what about the clear lack of intelligence of a few? Isn’t there a pill these people can swallow and not wake up the next day? Opposed to a dance club in a downtown known for empty storefronts? Am I still asleep? This is a nightmare, right?

From The Citizens’ Voice:

Dance club debated

“If there’s not going to be ample parking, then we’re going to have a problem,” said Wilkes-Barre resident Walter Griffith. “Quite honestly, I think we have more than enough liquor licenses on the Square. I’m concerned about the influx it might bring downtown.”

Not enough parking? When, at 9, or 10 PM? At midnight? There’s nowhere to park in the downtown well after dark? Is this Wilkes-Barre, or have I somehow slipped into The Twilight Zone? ‘Scuse me for not towing the nitwit line, but the massive surface parking lot across the street from the YMCA is pretty much empty after 5 PM. And it’s but yards away from the site of the proposed dance club. Parking? We don’t want no progress ‘cause there’s no place to park?

“…we have more than enough liquor licenses on the Square.”

Really? Is that a fact? Let’s do some investigative reporting here, shall we? How many businesses on Public Square have a liquor license? Um, the Ramada. The Anthracite News stand. Um, Does Mimmo’s Pizza have one? I’m not sure since I don’t travel to Public Square to drink on most days. Is that it? Am I missing something? Is their a red light district down there that I somehow missed? Maybe some of those ‘portant suits doing business down there have flasks in their bottom right-hand drawers, but I think that hardly qualifies as a liquor license. There’s more than enough liquor licenses on the Square? Where? And who determines how many are too many? Walter?

I’m concerned about the influx it might bring downtown.”

The influx? Concerned about the influx? Make up your fu>king mind, will you? Would you prefer that we go with the status quo--an empty downtown? Or do you really want the downtown to hum again?

First they told us the theater project wouldn’t attract anyone or anything. And now they’re objecting to the peripheral businesses the theater is attracting to the downtown. As far as downtown revitalization is concerned, the usual suspects haven’t been right about anything. All they offer us is their negative perspectives. This won’t work. That won’t work. Nothing will ever work. And even if something might work, there’s not enough available parking at midnight. There’s too many liquor licenses. There’s an influx I might not like. There’s too many positive ions bombarding the downtown for any of this to work.

What did General Lehore have to say down New Orleans way?

You are stuck on stupid!

City-Wide Towing Operator Bob Kadluboski agreed that the parking downtown is “horrible.” He also questioned what type of people the club would bring downtown.

“From what I can see, the majority of people don’t want this,” Kadluboski said. “They want development downtown, but who wants a bunch of drunks?”

The majority of what people? The dozen or so that attended the work session? There ya go. 10 out of 10 nitwits surveyed said they object to progress no matter how it manifests itself.

Drunks? A dance club in Wilkes-Barre is capable only of producing drunks. Yet, the very same outfit has dance clubs in Binghamton and Scranton that produce foot traffic in those city’s vibrant downtowns. It works in Binghamton. And it works in Scranton. But it won’t work in Wilkes-Barre?

The new chain restaurants in Wilkes-Barre have liquor licenses, but I don’t see anyone complaining about all of the drunks in Sprawl Township. The Wachovia Arena serves more beer in a week than all of the businesses in Wilkes-Barre combined. The Uno and Boston restaurants serve enough alcohol in a week to inebriate all of Europe. But in Wilkes-Barre, a dance club serving alcohol is just too much to tolerate. Sorry, but y’all gotta do better than these vapid arguments against progress.

This has got to be the only “college town” in which having fun runs against the grain. I am sickened to admit I live here when the headlines are generated by the most short-sighted among us. If I lived in Scranton, I’d be chuckling at Wilkes-Barre’s expense right now. What a bunch of clueless hicks.

From The Times Leader:

Planned dance club upsets W-B residents

I’m not so sure that this particular type of development is going to add to the betterment of downtown,” she said.

Alluding to a recent stabbing at the downtown music venue Café Metropolis, Fischer said a club could attract a “rowdy” crowd and not the “refined element” she hopes returns to a revitalized city center.

“I don’t think they’re going to be playing the beautiful Blue Danube,” she said.

Other residents were concerned that the planned club could contribute to potential parking problems, additional crime and litter.

Comparing the proposed upscale dance club to the Skinhead incident at the teen punk club makes about as much sense as anal sex when looked at from a procreation standpoint. Look, I really can understand this sort of thought coming from senior citizens. From a physical standpoint, they are vulnerable and they know as much. And I can’t blame them for being concerned about their safety in an increasingly violent world. But let’s be honest here, shall we? How many of the residents of Provincial Towers make it a habit to go out wondering around the downtown after dark? Fact is, they don’t.

So, they’re too completely frightened to venture out into a sinister-looking empty downtown. And now they’re telling us they’d be afraid to wander outside if the downtown wasn’t empty anymore. (?) The hookers, pimps, druggies, miscreants and bench dwellers are, by all accounts, “rowdy” and not the “refined element” the seniors want to see just outside their 7th-floor bedroom windows. But the folks attracted to an upscale dance club are no better than the bottom feeders? Where do I fit in with all of that? Does my bicycle scare them, too? Am I too creepy looking? Should the downtown become an SOZ--a Seniors Only Zone--at the expense of everyone else?

This is insane. This is beneath us. We’re not this completely dimwitted, and I fail to see why we should continue trying to convince our neighbors that we are totally incapable of dealing with anything but abject failure. Progress is trying to come to town, but some of us are dead-set against it. Why? Some are simply afraid of change, and still others have invested all of their flailing political capital in seeing to it that Wilkes-Barre remains in the doldrums so as to perpetuate the myth that they know what they’re talking about.

We’re better than this and I can’t wait to watch the white kinfolk pretend that they know how to dance.

The Council vote? 7-0 in favor of the upscale dance club. Some of us are gonna be dragged kicking and screaming all the way to progress. It sucks for them, but it’s plenty healthy for Wilkes-Barre.

Steven Toomey, the owner of Flashbacks dance clubs in Scranton and Binghamton, talked with Sue Henry this morning and being the dork that I am--I taped the entire verbal back-and-forth. I’ll provide y’all with some of the highlights, but iffin’ you’re real curious like, the tape is here for all to hear. Drop on by.

He said:

“We always have an adequate number of security personnel in all of the clubs.”

He said he hopes to attract the “..25 and over, mostly 30 and over crowd.”

He said that “Humford Equities promised him there was plenty of parking.”

He said of his proposed club: “It’ll bring a lot of pedestrian traffic.”

They adhere to a “strict dress code.”

“Our pricing structure is such that it’s not by any means the cheapest place in town.”

“We have a good number of security personnel trying to prevent anything before it starts.”

They “teach employees to look for signs of intoxication and these types of things inside the club.”

And all employees are state-certified as far as recognizing who’s had enough to drink.

I don’t know if all of that will pass the “refined element” test the seniors have set in place, but the guy definitely sounds as if he takes his responsibilities very seriously. If you’re asking me, this sounds like a great addition to the downtown. A definite no-brainer.

But wait! There‘s more. Sue Henry also took a phone call from a certain Walter who was quoted in the Citizens’ Voice as being steadfast against, well…new businesses opening in our downtown. Call it what it is. First he was defending the Heights folks without “adequate” fire protection. Now he’s the defender of the senior citizens. He’ll latch onto whatever far-flung non-issue just to generate himself some more dubious press.

He started about by rehashing the ridiculous assertion that there’s no place to park in an empty downtown well after normal business hours. (?) Then he got to the crux of his argument which defies all known logic. Well, except to him that is.

And I friggin’ quote:

Walter: And the other concern is he hasn’t addressed the fact that that is a KOZ zone. So he doesn’t pay one single dime to the taxpayers of the city. Not one dime.

Sue: I don’t think that he, uh, mentioned anything like that…(interrupted)

Walter: Immediately that part is owned by Al Finlay who’s a major contributor to the mayor’s campaign. Another issue that hasn’t been addressed. So, I mean, I think it’s great to revitalize the downtown, but I don’t think the safety of the residents of the city should be put in jeopardy in that regard by having a nightclub down there that, first of all, doesn’t generate any income for the city coffers. And the people who live there in the high rise do in fact pay to the coffers and they’re being criticized because they don’t want that type of business in their community. So, so, there’s a lot of issues here that aren’t addressed. Basically, it’s the fact that that’s a KOZ zone. So Mr. Toomey gets a place scot-free. Doesn’t cost him a dime.

Sue: For X amount of years, right Walter?

Walter: ‘Til 2011. He doesn’t have to pay one single dime to the city coffers. And, and that’s why he’s got the place in Scranton as well. Now, is he a good person for trying to help the city? Absolutely. Is the city going to benefit? Well, I don’t know what kind of benefit the merchants are gonna get when they’re all closed at nine o’clock at night.

Sue: Well, you know Walter, maybe they’ll all have an impetus to stay open later. Who knows? Who knows where we’re goin’ here, but to me, more is better and some kind of activity in Wilkes-Barre is better than what you see now, which is a scary, deserted downtown.

Walter: I just think it’s kind of convenient that first of all, it’s a KOZ, and second of all, Al Finlay owns the building.

Sue: Well, Walter,. Maybe this guy did his homework and looked for a KOZ zone. I mean, if you were gonna put a business in Wilkes-Barre would you try to pay taxes, or not try to pay taxes?

Walter: Oh, absolutely not. I wouldn’t want to pay any taxes. (Chuckle, chuckle. Yuk, yuk, yuk.)

Sue: Exactly. I have to let you go. David and Bill are next.

End friggin’ quote.


Whew! So lemme get this straight. Steven Toomey, Al Finlay and Tom Leighton are all suspected of doing dastardly things because of the KOZ properties, but if Walter was going to open a business in Wilkes-Barre--he wouldn’t want to pay any taxes.

Oh, absolutely not.

Sounds like petty jealousy to me.

And what’s with the Al Finlay bashing already? Humford Equities owns a wide swath of the downtown, and many of those properties are also KOZ properties. So what? If the Finlay’s didn’t own those properties, somebody else would. What’s the point other than wealth envy? Class envy, if you will.

Follow me here. Your downtown is empty and you’re trying to fill it in a big hurry by offering tax incentives. Much of the empty interior of the downtown is owned by one real estate concern. So, to facilitate the filling of the empty storefronts, do you pick and choose far-flung, off-the-beaten-path properties to be tax-free properties, or do you choose the properties that happen to make-up a large part of your empty downtown?

Yeah, I know all about Wilkes-Barre’s most enduring urban legend which goes as follows: The Finlay’s want those storefronts empty so they can use those properties as tax write-offs. Okay, so how many years in a row can you claim such tax write-offs? Ten? Twenty? I seriously doubt it. And if the Finlay’s would better benefit if those storefronts remained empty, then why the hell would they bother to renovate so many of them and install security cameras in front of others? If they’re merely tax write-offs, why should the owners care if they fall into disrepair, or get covered over with graffiti and suchlike? Think, people. It won’t hurt.

Al Finlay was a major contributor to the mayor’s campaign??? So what? I believe that to be true, and if so, what does that tell you about Finlay’s hopes for the downtown? With Tom McGroarty as mayor, Finlay had plenty of empty storefronts--tax write-offs--if you numbskulls will. So if what he really wanted was empty storefronts, why would he contribute to the campaign of a mayoral hopeful who was promising to fill those empty storefronts? Think.

Thanks entirely to people like Walter, I live in the only city in America where the renting of two smallish storefronts in an empty downtown suggests that something improper is going on. Some smart businessman wants to rent a KOZ property owned by such-and-such who contributed to such-and-such, so we need a special grand jury convened? A new business coming to town is proof of wrongdoing, or an even wider conspiracy? Walter admitted that he wouldn’t want to pay taxes on a new business, but those who think likewise are shirking their responsibilities to the taxpayers? That’s rubbish. That’s sh*t. And that’s exactly what Walter serves up every time he opens his activist yap.

KOZ properties were created in the hopes of attracting new businesses to towns all over these fruity plains of ours. But only in Wilkes-Barre are they offered up as proof that the powers that be are somehow screwing the little guy. I’m of this mindset: Do you want an empty downtown? Or do you want a bustling downtown? If you opt for the latter, do you really care who owns what, or who is renting a KOZ property versus who isn’t?

Are we really that petty? Are we that worried about hating those whom own more than we do when life is never going to be a zero-sum game no matter what the muck we do? This is all so nuts, I’m embarrassed to admit I share the same hometown with people that get all hysterical when something as inconsequential as a freaking night club wants to come to town.

If the people like Walter have their way, there will come a day when they’ll be enjoying what little that remains of this city all by their lonesome. The only issue they’ll have to deal with at that point will be who’s left to blame other than themselves.

No night club. Now the nitwits have spoken.

They may be persistently noisy, but they’re easily ignored. It’s sad that they seem totally incapable of understanding that the great majority of us are laughing at their pathetic antics, but such if the existence of the feeble-minded.

Fu>k ‘em.

Let’s bump our booties!

Disco boy! you got one more chance, to comb your hair again.
Disco boy! they’re closing the bar, and she’s
Leaving with your friend.

Disco boy, that’s the way it goes, so wipe your nose, and
Try it again, to get a little lay tomorrow.

Disco boy, no one understands, but thank the lord that you
Still got hands, to help you do that jerkin’ that’ll
Blot out your disco sorrow.

It’s disco love tonight. make sure you look alright.
It’s disco love tonight. make sure you look alright.

(Francis Vincent Zappa)

A must-read story on port security.

From Far Eastern Economic Review:

Port Security Is Still A House of Cards

They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.--Eric Hoffer

Zach with the Kool-Aid stains

Make all the mean faces you want, boy. Nobody…nobody sticks their freakin’ fingers into my columns. Nobody.