4-16-2006 (life)...(/life)

You just have to click on the link provided below and check out the interactive anti-Casey video. It’s fun. With that said, allow me to also say that what Rick Santorum and Bob Casey Jr. have in common is that they are both spuds. Hold your nose and vote.

Isn’t democracy wonderful? We should export it to Iran.

I’m kidding! Chill out.

Paid For by Santorum 2006

From the e-mail inbox Mark, First of all let me correct you on one very important point. Participation in the proposed downtown BID (business improvement district), brainchild of the Diamond City Partnership, IS NOT, I repeat NOT VOLUNTARY.

It will most certainly become a reality if 61% of the property owners in said district do not object in writing. Yes, the property owner is the one who would be charged 2.57% of his current county real estate assessment. No doubt, said owner would find a way to pass along at least part of this extra expense to his tenant, the struggling businessman. The tenant businessman has no vote whatsoever, as to whether or not this plan moves forward. He will most likely pay his share, like it or not, for at least 5 years, which is the term that the proposed BID is committed to.

Oh, yes, I must mention that there are 324 taxable properties in the BID area, which are obligated to pay their share, while there are 260 tax exempt properties, for which participation is VOLUNTARY. King's, Wilkes, and Blue Cross have already pledged $75,000 total combined for the first year, but other nonprofits may, or may not follow suit. The biggest question involving the entire idea, however, is whether this BID, will really be of value to those of us in the area. Will we really get a cleaner, safer city when all is said and done? The Diamond City and Chamber people dreamed it all up, and are doing a bunch of cheerleading, but we must foot the bill, no matter the results.

What does the plan give us ? 1. Supplemental Security: hire 2 off-duty city police officers,12 hours a day four days a week and add to the number of security cameras in the district. 2.Supplementary cleaning: extra sidewalk cleaning 6 days a week in the entire BID area, graffitti removal that is more regular and efficient, and beautification of landscaping. Some funds are also earmarked for "Marketing & Design", improvements for the district, including mutually cooperative advertising for the businesses, and better promotion & expansion of downtown events. Last, but not least, the plan calls for the hiring of a "dedicated Downtown Manager" to oversee everything, to '"worry about downtown Wilkes Barre at street level". This manager is answerable to to the property owners and businessmen, and, at least to me will be the key to success or failure of the entire project.

That's it in a nutshell! Is it good? Will it work? Can the struggling businessmen in a beatendown city afford it? Opinions of my fellow businessmen are divided right down the middle, and I, myself am undecided. The debate continues.
Stay tuned, see what happens.

Downtown Businessman

Fact is, both the chamber folks and politicos are saying that downtowns and malls do this sort of thing all over these fruity plains of ours and they are correct. The question is, being that the BIDs are not voluntary, do the tenants in those far-flung places see those BIDs as an unneeded expense or as a worthwhile investment? The only way to answer that one is to poll some of the folks doing the retail thing in a Business Improvement District that‘s been in place for a while.

Another question is, what do you expect to happen when all of these projects start wrapping up, ribbons begin getting cut and some of the new businesses coming to the downtown open their doors for business? Would increased foot traffic and beat cops be enough to assuage some of our fears about the safety of the downtown, or do we think the added security should be embraced regardless of what may develop? Or, do you think the current cleaning efforts above-and-beyond what the city can provide is enough, or should they be augmented in some way?

Those are questions that you and your fellow businessmen need to grapple with. In addition to those, another thing to consider is whether or not you think a coordinated downtown promotion campaign is a significant step up from what you have now, which is everybody grappling with their own limited advertising budgets. I think it could only help, but, then again, I have nothing invested in downtown Wilkes-Barre other than some civic pride and such.

As a resident, I can honestly say that I hope the downtown businessmen opt to give it a try. Sure, you’ll get more security, more cleaning services and coordinated advertising. But don’t underestimate the graffiti removal, landscaping and general sprucing up whereas our downtown is concerned. It all adds up. During the past couple of years we’ve had the benches rebuilt, trees pruned back, decorative bricks installed around the fountain, mulch and flowers added to the mix and for the first time in a long time, the overall perception that things are slowly but surely changing down there. Attention to detail amounts to negating the “Broken Window” theory of incremental reverse-gentrification and I think that’s just as important as any of the other aspects of the program.

At least we’re debating how best to deal with progress, rather than what we’ve been doing since the downtown’s decline greatly accelerated during the ‘80’s, which was absolutely nothing. Try this on for size. If the BID falls flat, you can advertise here for a couple of cases of beer a month. Agreeable rates? I know, I get enough beer as it is.

Stay in touch.

Read the following internet post and then consider an easier alternative.

The Blogger Buddy System

What if your favorite anonymous blogger died suddenly? You’d be left wondering why they stopped writing so abruptly and end up deleting them from your list of daily Web stops. What could be done to make sure that you know one of the bloggers you read got backed over by a DPW truck?

Maybe we could build an HTML code into our pages that would trigger an obituary post to appear if we failed to post anything new for, say, a week. Something like this…

(life) (a href=“www.myobitpage.blogspot.com“ auto-generate=“7 days”) (/life)

Or maybe we could train our significant others to post the obits just in case some candidate for elected office takes great offense to something we post and pays somebody else to impale us until we stop typing. Maybe we should simply cool it before we get stuck like pigs and make like all of the other apathetic sheep toiling away out there.

As I have made reference to many, many times over, I like simplicity. While others tend to believe that simplicity is too god awfully simple to produce any tangible results, I burst my pimples at them. (Hi, Gort) So, in keeping with my simplistic nature, I offer the following solution to those who are ultimately concerned about how to alert others in the case of an anonymous blogger’s sudden dropping off:

Put your real name on your blog.

Simple, hayna?

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

Thanks for the response! And, it was cool seeing my query (edited quite nicely to preserve anonymity, by the way) appear on your web site.

We'll be heading to W-B this weekend, so I'll be sure to have a look-see at Pine Ridge. It looks like it is an area pretty well connected to the North Cross Valley, I-81, Rt. 309, etc. And, as opposed to the so-called suburbs of Bear Creek, Back Mountain, Mountain Top, etc., it's convenient to everything. On those occasions where you need something forgotten on the last trip to Sprawl Mart, the 10+ mile trek in from the suburbs is a real pain. I really believe a "walkable" community is a significant advantage. In my opinion, ZIP code 18702 rules in that respect.

Maybe if I get this all worked out in the next two months or so, I'll be able shuffle on down with my "G.A.R. wife" to that killer mid-summer block party y'all throw. If you see a 6'1" guy and a 5'0" XXXXhead gal heading your direction, that'd be us! I'll keep you posted.

Best regards,

“Walkable?” I hear that. I love living in Wilkes-Barre. When parade day arrives, we stuff the grandrodents in the wagon and find ourselves on Public Square within fifteen minutes. I can pedal to work inside of twenty minutes if I leave early enough and beat the morning rush hour. In a car, it takes approximately 12-15 minutes to get to work, depending on the mood of the traffic lights. If I learn that wifey neglected to put frickin’ yeast on her exhaustive shopping list, I can hop on a bicycle and grab it in my own neighborhood. No need to get all frustrated and road rage my way all the way in from the ‘burbs.

Another thing to consider is the escalating price of crude oil. Demand has matched supply, while current events suggest that we’re one unfortunate incident away from a major shock to the entire system. Iran is currently launching fiery rhetoric in the general direction of the western countries that simply cannot allow it to develop nuclear capabilities. Meanwhile, the US military is poised to test a 30,000 bunker-busting conventional bomb (MOAB) in the Nevada desert. As far as I’m concerned, now is not the time to be building a 6,000 square-foot home in some faraway bucolic township and buying the twins twin Lincoln Navigators on their sixteenth birthday. But from what I’m seeing, not many people agree with what I think. With everything that’s going on in this city at this time, I’m thinking you could do a lot worse that settling in the Pine Ridge development.

And the block party? That’s the best party you’ll ever come across for 12 bucks (kids free) a head. This year we’re definitely adding a pińata for the rodents. And I’m going to contact The Moonwalk Guy and see what his pricing is all about. This year will be the 17th annual event and it gets bigger and better every time. Keep the first two Saturdays in August open. We’ll be setting the date soon enough.

Lemme know.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

After sending my previous email a couple of minutes ago, I just saw the following:

"But when a person in Barney Farms is in the same voting district as a person from Pine Ridge, that’s more like jerk-offmandering than anything else."

Man, that's good! Seriously!


I can’t avoid it. It just happens.

Will no one help me?

Check out the latest “Where are they now?” post at this site.

Beale’s Bites

Hubba, hubba

I gotta cut this gibberish short today. The kids and their kids are on the way, and wifey is mass-producing edible delights as I am typing all of this mucky muck. If I keep at it too much longer, she is gonna get seriously perturbed with me.

Have a good one.