3-30-2006 Senility is often mistaken for eccentricity

I got home in time to catch the WBRE 5 pm broadcast which reported the creation of Wilkes-Barre’s Community Action Initiative. At first glance, the newly formed Community Action Team (CAT) immediately reminded me of the former mayor’s near useless Neighborhood Impact Team.

Now, if I’ve happened to rankle your last feather and you want to contest the foregoing statement, don’t bother. I’ve been in too many of those nightmarish homes we’re talking about combating and the NIT approach just didn’t get it done. Sorry, but when a house becomes a wall-to-wall kitty litter box; pruning trees, repainting lines and assembling a one-day show of city force will not do much to stamp out the horrendous conditions that idiocy or senility can cause.

I snagged this from the city’s web page Devoted to the CAT initiative.

Bringing the City of Wilkes-Barre's neighborhoods back, one property at a time. Part of Mayor Leighton's comprehensive, citywide Community Action Initiative Multi-Departmental Mayor's Office, Building Inspector's Office, Health, Police, Legal, Fire & Zoning Departments

To report a nuisance property or unwanted vehicle please do one of the following below :

Click Here to Submit by web
E-Mail : cat@wilkes-barre.pa.us
Phone : 208-4140

I’m not going to tell you this is sure to be a great program, but I do think it’s a significant step in the right direction. During the onset of Winter ‘04 I volunteered to “clean out” a city home that was purported to be full of cat dung. Now, at the time I was thinking along the lines of “How bad could it be?” How bad could it be? Well, have you ever had to fight back a projectile vomit while wearing a state-of-the-art respirator? Have you ever walked near waste deep in a basement filled with water and tons of cat feces? Ever popped open a refrigerator only to spin away in horror with your breakfast fighting to spew itself out all over the feces-covered floor?

I’m sharing this with you only because the occupant of that horror show of a home was a very elderly woman who was reduced to living on a mattress completely surrounded by utter filth, garbage and cat feces. Her living conditions were horrific, she had no heat save for a few space heaters, and the more I explored that house the more I wondered about where her relatives were while she was being reduced to such an unthinkable existence. If that’s not bad enough, the neighbors were grumbling all year long because of the ungodly stench that pervaded the entire street. Sadly, nothing was done to alert anyone to this woman’s terrible predicament, until her water line burst in the basement and the fire department was summoned to help her.

She was removed to healthier confines and my firm was hired to remove her possessions, the garbage, the feces and even the floor surfaces. And I volunteered to participate. How smart was I? Dunderhead.

Then there was the house filled both with piled household trash and packs of rats large enough to swallow a tennis ball without chewing on it first. This place was home to an elderly gentlemen who had obviously had his mental facilities slip a few notches. Again, I got to wondering where the hell his family was when I entered his former home all alone wearing waders and stumbling along in the darkness armed only with an 8 D-cell Maglite.

I know the folks in the Heights have gotten to calling me callous and whatnot, but it’s a sickening feeling to see an entire man’s lifetime; his possessions, his family photos and all of his assorted memorabilia buried in rat droppings and abandoned.

The kitchen

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit unsettling as the piled garbage you’re stumbling through can get to moving all about as frightened rats scurry underneath it, but what better way is there to face your fears than entering an indoor landfill dominated by large rats, all alone and in the dark? I’ve seen these sorts of horror shows on quite a few occasions, but I’ve never gotten used to it. And it’s next to impossible to spend an entire day in such a disgusting place while wanting nothing more than to touch nothing.

Now, if the Mayor's Office, Building Inspector's Office, Health, Police, Legal, Fire & Zoning Departments get to closing numerous problem properties, drug houses, stash houses and tenement slums--that’s all fine and dandy by me. But what I’d most like to see is concerned neighbors calling the city whenever some elderly person stubbornly clinging to their independence exhibits any sign that they are not thinking clearly anymore.

The beds

Fact is, when some less than mentally functional elderly person is reduced to hanging his foodstuffs from the chandelier to stave off the rats circling around him just out of sight, someone has definitely let him down. Be they relatives, stand-offish neighbors or city officials, someone definitely missed something. And in my mind, no one should ever be reduced to that after living a long and productive life. Take it from someone who reluctantly gets paid to shovel the last remaining proof of someone’s existence into the rental hopper--senility is often mistaken for eccentricity.

If you’re concerned in the least about your elderly neighbor, please call or e-mail the city.

The pantry?

From The Times Leader:

W-B ends mounted patrols As part of an initiative to clean up the city launched today, Mayor Thomas Leighton announced the replacement of the downtown mounted horse patrols with motorcycle patrols that will respond throughout the city.

Today is the last deployment of the mounted patrol.

Two of the three horses will be returned to their private owners, who police Chief Gerry Dessoye said will offer the horses to mounted patrols in other cities, such as Williamsport.

The third horse, 12-year-old Sierra, was purchased by the city from Philadelphia three years ago. With an impaired leg, he can’t be used by other patrols and so will be given to Patrolman Duane Price, who has been riding him since his arrival.

See tomorrow’s Times Leader for more details.

I caught some more on this development during the aforementioned WBRE broadcast. According to the mayor, the horses will be replaced by motorcycles and our former horse patrol officers will “respond to nuisance crimes in the community.” Sounds like a plan.

Plus, the city will press on with the removal of junked cars from the city: “The city removed and disposed of more than 300 eyesore vehicles throughout the city.”

I made one phone call to police headquarters and the long-abandoned car that was on my last available nerve got the hook, so it’s obvious they’re taking this issue seriously. And rightly so.

WNEP has a good report on the CAT initiative:

The mayor of Wilkes Barre announced his new plan Thursday to clean up crime and grime in the city. It's called the Community Action Initiative and he wants residents to get involved.

The mayor's new plan has three parts. One is fighting crime, another is cracking down on absent landlords and the third is cleaning up the city.

"It's a proactive approach to finding crime and cleaning up Wilkes-Barre's neighborhoods," Mayor Tom Leighton said, announcing his vision for the city.

Wilkes-Barre’s Plan For Change

So they’re going to split the city into 6 districts and fight crime, grime and absentee landlords? Hey, that ought to work in five of those districts. Of course, nothing works for the folks in the Heights, so they’ll likely continue to be personified by the same dozen or so rabble-rousing contrarians bent on whatever it is that they’re so completely hell bent on. Mostly, they’re just bent and ought to go get bent.

Anywho, I’m looking forward to reading tomorrow’s newspapers.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark, Shirley here in Florida. I'm from Pa and read your blog as often as I can. On this immigrarion thing--illegal means breaking the law. Everybody else who comes to this country went by the rules. Remember Elian Gonzales who came to Keys in Fl. on a tube??They broke the law by keeping him from his dad. Living there, I saw what happened-There was 10 deep around the house to keep athorities out. Now why weren't they at work?On relief, that's why. They work under the table for lesss than minimum wage and when it is time to go on Social Security, not enough paid in, if in fact they paid at all towards it. Back on Relief because you can't live on s.s. when you work for low wages. The rich just don't get it. Ship our good jobs out of country and bring illegals in to do the jobs nobody wants at the low wages. Reducing American men and women to clean toilets and collect garbage off streets. Where's the dignity we earned? Also, to vote, you must read English. Why then, are the voting machines having Spanish and English versions. Nice site, keep up the voice of the people!!!!!


I’d love to eventually be proven wrong, but I’m thinking those “illegals” are here to stay. And f that proves to be the case, they will have more rights than we do. If I break the law, the law is gonna jump all over my ugliest of mugs. Oh, but when they break the law, our politicians go well out of their way to legitimize them in all of their strident illegality.

“Guest workers?” Am I stupid? Why not “guest burglars?” How ‘bout “guest rapists?” Since when is someone violating our internationally-recognized borders a guest? With that sort of illogic passing as sound governance, if I smash your window, crawl on in and steal all of your really ‘pensive stuff--I could be a “guest son-of-a-bitchin’ rip-off artist?’ If illegality is to be excused, well, why not for me? If the Mexicans can do whatever they like, why not me?

And what’s with the new legislation? The Mexicans are already ignoring our laws and sanctity, so what would make me believe that countless undocumented illegals are just dying to obey the law from here on out?

Fact is, the Latino vote has replaced the black vote as this country’s largest minority group, so the politicians are not going to preserve the integrity of our borders. Nor are they going to deport the folks that ignored our laws in search of an under-the-table job. The long-term financial ramifications of this massive illegal influx of people is frightening. Do folks working under the table pay into the social security fund? Are they covered by an employer’s group insurance plan? This has nothing to do with bigotry on my part. This is all about supplanting the poorest of the voting blocs with a whole other poor voting bloc that can ill-afford do anything than get by on a day-to-day basis. Long term, they put a serious strain on all of our already strained to the limit entitlement programs.

But they register to vote, because Democrats oppose any legislation requiring proper identification for the purposes of electioneering. And being that they vote illegally, neither the Republicans or Democrats have the guts to do what they should do--deport every one of them.

The American people want the borders closed. The politicians and far-flung business interests don’t.

Learn some rudimentary Spanish.

To be perfectly honest, I was all but ready to put this needless firehouse brouhaha on the top shelf where it rightfully belongs. You Heights folks can say whatever you want about me, but truth be told, dogged persistence can be to redundancy what redundancy can be to stupidity. Google the word “hammerhead.”

However, when I checked the latest gibberish at “Save My Anonymity,” I damn near needed an ambulance when a hunk of pizza took a wrong turn and tried to enter my lungs. Some of you people may be hapless hammerheads, but it really is funny how you folks continue to embarrass yourselves and make me choke on my pizza.

And to believe that the people on the hill sit and hope for a tragedy shows that you don't even have a thimble full of intelligents! NOT ONE of them wishes anything like this to happen, because they live with the fear day in and day out of the possibility that they could be in the same situation.

No, no, I’m not trying to swallow anything during this exercise.

…shows that you don't even have a thimble full of intelligents!

Real quick like, if there was one word in there that you wouldn’t want to misspell, which one would it be?

I ain’t got no intelligents? Maybe. But be assured, I sure as hell ain’t got any intellichicks either. What the fu>k! Did somebody do that on purpose hoping it’d be my undoing by half-eaten pizza.

They live in fear??? Over a closed firehouse? I may have huffed too much balsa sealer a long time ago, but y’all need to get a frickin’ grip already. Do you realize how completely lame that sounds? Crikey! I hope a chick penned that and not some pussy pretending to be a man.

Oh, woe is me. The mayor closed my firehouse and now I’m reduced to living in fear.

Listen to me tell it! That’s about as lame and full of sh*t as lame and full of sh*t can get. They live in fear? Holy moley! Do you people have cable up there? How ‘bout sedatives? Huff some fargin’ glue already and chill the fu>k out before the Borg has a collective stroke. There’s a firehouse a mile away, for chrissakes. Get a grip you hysterical girlie men! Sorry, you girlie gents!


Say whatever you want about me, but truth be told, dogged persistence can be to redundancy what redundancy can be to stupidity.

Google the word “hammerhead.”



The pantry