4-23-2006 Only in Wilkes-Barre...

Okay. I‘m all better now. You know, sober. Well, somewhat.

Let’s make this quick, shall we? I’m itchin’ to pedal a few miles before the next monsoon arrives.

From The Citizens‘ Voice:

The city’s newly formed Community Action Team will not be the “media circus” the former Neighborhood Impact Team was, Mayor Tom Leighton said.

“We want to make sure that we’re not violating anyone’s rights,” Leighton said. “I’m not out to embarrass tenants.”

City Administrator J.J. Murphy said the team’s ultimate goal is not to displace residents, but to clean up neighborhoods.

“Although sometimes a family must be evicted if the property is uninhabitable, it at least sends a message to the rest of the neighborhood that we’re serious about cleaning up the city,” Murphy said.

“The TV cameras and the media are not going to be with us in a way that they intimidate people or embarrass them,” Murphy said.

Exactly. We can incrementally reclaim our neighborhoods and address our aging housing stock without the enormous tents, elephant parades, sword-swallowing women and garishly-painted clowns riding unicycles.

Sally Healey, who headed up the Neighborhood Impact Team, said she believes “working with the press is of paramount importance.”

“You can’t embarrass an errant landlord or a drug dealer too much,” Healey said.

The press can show the conditions of the houses in blighted condition and when they are cleaned up, Healey said.

“The Neighborhood Impact Team was very visible. I believe the visibility of the team gave people hope and gave them knowledge that we were out there posting homes,” Healey said. “I welcomed the presence of the press. We had nothing to hide.”

Sure, but what about the tenants caught in the urban-renewal crossfire? Should they be stripped of their last vestiges of dignity simply because they have a slug for a landlord, or because their earning potential falls far short of where they’d like it to be? The poorer folks should be paraded before the television cameras as if they caused the problems? That’s completely unnecessary, obviously lowbrow, but totally in keeping with the McGroarty administration’s penchant for embracing boorish behavior whenever it could.

And what about those lawsuits that had to be settled out of court? Funny that she didn’t make mention of those, heh? This is your typical McGroarty-era short-sighted, mistake-riddled balderdash. The useless press release goes out, Sally and Tommy pose for the cameras, the city finds itself being sued as a result and the building reopens at a later date after minor alterations are made.

We had nothing to hide? No, other than the court settlements being paid on the hush-hush, they had nothing to hide. The folks that were swept out of city hall in ‘03 still don’t get it. Under their less than thought-out tutelage, what could have been done half-fast was done half-fast.

And what hasn’t generated any significant press is the fact that the city’s controversial Landlord Ordinance has been very effective in forcing some of the city’s long-entrenched and well-recognized slumlords to either clean up their sorry acts or divest themselves of their rat traps.

If you want the no-sh*t assessment on all of that, contact Planning & Development Director Butch Frati at 208-4177 and learn yourself. I promise, it won’t hurt.

McGroarty was known to accompany the Neighborhood Impact Team and often badgered landlords with questions about when they planned to clean up their properties. Leighton has not accompanied the Community Action Team in the field.

“I have confidence they can do the job without me leading them and without my interference,” Leighton said. “They’re responding to problem properties and we’re following up on them. They’re not just hitting them and going on to new properties. They’re repeatedly going back to make sure they (problems) are corrected.”

He told us he would surround himself with capable people and allow them to do their jobs. He told us he would not micro-manage every aspect of the city’s affairs. He told us he fully understood the importance of delegating duties to his underlings. The way I see it, this is another example of the mayor delivering on one of his campaign promises. I don’t want his valuable time spent on the minutiae while he’s paying capable people to handle such things. I want him to continue meeting with the wide array of interested people that can further benefit Wilkes-Barre.

Sez me.

Hmmm. What is it that he’s pointing to?

From The Times Leader:

W-B resident doesn’t believe tax dollars are well-spent

Here are some questions for Mayor Leighton and Mr. Barrouk.

What was the total revenue derived by the city through the payroll tax deduction of $52 assessed on every working city resident since its inception? Since every working Wilkes-Barre citizen was forced to pay it, we are certainly entitled to know its financial destination absent of mumbo jumbo. It is our money even though we never placed it on the table.

Next, what was the total revenue derived from the working population of Wilkes-Barre citizens’ 2.8 percent payroll deducted tax?

Now, what are the two payroll tax deductions totals and what is our cash financing? What portion is being used to cover city employee salaries, benefits and retirements, or other destinations yet to be announced, in comparison to community improvements that are way past due?

I see no improvement in the conditions of many residential sections of Wilkes-Barre. Some sections of Wilkes-Barre could be used as props for a movie titled “Shanty Town.” What’s truly bizarre is the fact that the current mayor accepts a $75,000 annual salary plus benefits in a city where hope is fading, then appoints an assistant who manages to use grant money to increase a salary he accepted with his appointment.

It is time for Wilkes-Barre citizens to say “you’re fired” to all involved at the next election because arrogance and power has risen to a sneaky political level. Though Wilkes-Barre residents are now placed in zones, we are not robots.

Linda J. Stets Wilkes-Barre

First off, what in the hell does Steve Barrouk have to do with the finances of the city? Did I miss something frightfully important, or do we have ourselves yet another letter writer (Luzerne County Republican Party agitator) that is either woefully misinformed, or intentionally misrepresenting the facts?

Secondly, to suggest that some sections of Wilkes-Barre resemble a “Shanty Town” does this city more public relations harm than the writer could ever imagine just as the massive economic development push to change the public’s perception of Wilkes-Barre trudges onward. What did they tell us while we were struggling to grow up? No, not the don’t-swallow-your-bubble-gum-bit.

If you don’t have anything good to say…

I pedal my way through every neighborhood in this city and I’m here to tell you that the abject and purposeful negativity displayed in that letter is neither fair nor accurate. That’s the cryptic and drawn-out version of “Vote Republican next time around.” It’s self-centered, it’s disingenuous and it further damages the city’s reputation quite needlessly.

Consider the current goings-on in the county’s other 80 or so communities. Name me a town that has so many high-profile projects underway and about to get underway. Go ahead, try. Consider the laundry list of progress once again.

Real quick: A $30 million theater project. A remodeled riverfront. New streetlights and streetscapes. Newly opened businesses and even more on the way. An intermodel project that will facilitate parking on Public Square and add 750 parking slots just a few feet from that Square. The Hotel Sterling rising from the ashes. The Woolworth’s building soon to be occupied. The Solomon Creek project progressing nicely. The long-stalled Coal Street project providing a direct link from Route 81 into the downtown. The Penguins and the City of Wilkes-Barre working on a major overall of the long-dormant Ice-A-Rama. The Wilkes University acquisition of the call center. Interest in downtown buildings at an all-time high. A popular dance club coming to town. An upscale pool hall a stone‘s throw away. Two revamped firehouses. A new firehouse due to open soon. New fire trucks on order. New police vehicles. 11 new police officers on the roster. Slumlords being held accountable. 350 new catch basins, etc., etc., etc.

Tell me, if that list applied to Kingston and not Wilkes-Barre, do we honestly believe the residents of Kingston would be trying to spin that in a negative light? Do we think the residents of Nanticoke would be bitching if that list of exciting developments was slated to happen in their neck of the woods? Is there even the slightest chance that the good folks in Pittston would be dismayed if those projects were underway in their city? No, no, they’d be thrilled and touting the skills of their community leaders.

Only in Wilkes-Barre is tangible, measured progress either ignored or made out to be a sinister development in disguise. Only in Wilkes-Barre is there a major confluence of heretofore unimagined projects happening right in front of our eyes. And only in Wilkes-Barre are the “activists” shutting out the reality of the present situation and still pretending that all is lost.

Linda, if the progress in Wilkes-Barre is not to your liking, Nanticoke awaits you.

Hit it.

I found this graphic at GasBuddy.com.

Pick one

From the e-mail inbox A treaty between u.s. and Mexico was snuck in in secret in the past by Clinton. It gaave Social Security, housing, welfare, food stamps, healthcare to illegals as soon as they step their feet on U.S. soil.($277.6 million is spent on healthcare alone.) There is a new bill coming up that will repeal it. Call your Senators and Congressmen to support S.557. tHERE IS A LARGE MEXICAN LOBBY THAT CARES NOTHING ABOUT AMERICA, our national security or retirement. Support S.557.

Support S. 557 to Rescind Executive Order 13166, the "Multilingual Mandate"

You sure got me by the back of the boxer shorts. All I know is, judging from my most recent paycheck, something has got to give. When I gross over $2,400 and take home less than $1,600--it doesn’t make me feel real philanthropic like. If the Govmint of Mexico can’t or won’t provide the basic amenities for it’s fleeing citizens, I’m not quite sure why I should have to.

Ask Paul Kanjorski. He’s sure to have a somewhat smug and ultimately infuriating answer all ready to go.

It wouldn’t have anything to do with politicos selling us out while they court a growing and completely illegal voting bloc, would it? Nah. No way! He wouldn’t do that to us. Or would he?

The truth of the matter is this: Keeping illegal immigrants out of this country is no more difficult than patching a punctured bicycle tube. But Paul Kanjorski and his partners in governmental ineptitude didn’t bother to do it. They can pontificate all they want and make it sound well beyond their control, but laws were on the books and they neglected to enforce them. They caused the now enormous problem in the first place and now they expect us to pay for it.

Look at it this way. If a local police officer continually looks the other way--if he knowingly and willfully fails to enforce the laws on the books, sooner or later he’s going to find himself getting canned. By the same token, if the politicos on the national stage do exactly the same thing, what consequences should they face?

As far as I’m concerned, after the 2,000-mile border fence goes up, the majority of them should be tossed over to the other side so they can better serve their most important non-constituents.

Then again, toss ‘em all.

From The Crown at Kings College:

Major Bookstore Coming to Downtown


I am out of here.