8-26-2006 The Katsock Doctrine or: We cannot afford progress at any price

“Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….”--Colin Powell in 1998

(If you’re an apoplectic left-leaner, that has to hurt. Hayna?)

I haven‘t been doing much of anything on the dreaded internet this past week. Summer is in it’s death throes and I want to enjoy every last minute with it that I can. I jumped in the pool last night and…well, let’s just suffice it to say that my sperm count dropped faster than Tom Cruise’s stock with Paramount Pictures. In my less than sought after opinion, this changing of the seasons does in fact suck mightily. Oh, but the fall foliage is so pretty. Sigh.

The following story from the Times Leader had me disbelieving all four of my eyeballs:

Benefits fuel council plan, activist says

First off, it is patently absurd for anyone serving on council to suggest that they had no frickin’ idea how long they’ve served on council, and equally absurd to hint that they had never once considered the status of their future city-provided retirement benefits.

Pension? What pension? Oh, yeah. That pension. Got me, I just want to serve the people.

That’s poppycock.

Now, I understand the game our overly persistant “activist,” Walter Griffith, has been playing for what feels like a decade. If he’s to take his rightful place on council and deliver justice and fairness to all local humankind, he’s got to undermine the reputations of the incumbents. And that’s sort of fair, I guess. Well, it’s fair given that his usual message is little more than a well-worn page taken out of the inept manifesto all of the noisiest activists swear their allegiance to: Everything spent by the city is a cost to the taxpayers and not an investment in their collective futures.

Remember, this is the very same guy who stupidly questioned the merits of the theater project. No, we shouldn’t be spending money on exciting amenities sure to draw people into the city when we could be “fixing our neighborhoods,” he told us. (?) And now that people are beating a well-worn path to Wilkes-Barre Movies 14, I figure he’ll scratch that non-issue off of his laundry list of tired, oft-repeated gibberish. When reality is divorced from practicality, you are provided with a fascinating insight into the mind of the ‘Vote for me instead’ candidate in activist’s clothing.

More poppycock.

If Latinski, 66, won one more term, he would receive about $6,600 annually after retiring from council. If he lost in the next election, he’d be eligible for a smaller pension – about $5,280 annually.

Those who serve 10 years on council may collect a pension equaling 25 percent of the average of the two highest annual salaries, which is about $3,300. Those who qualify may start collecting at age 62.

So, Phil Latinski is obstructing “the will of the people” over a measly thousand bucks a year??? I had no idea he was so completely evil! (For those of you pretending to be an activist and not a candidate, that was sarcasm. Look it up.)

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he retire from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District with a full pension? And based on the forever ballooning salaries of teachers and administrators alike, wouldn’t we have to conclude that those retiring from the local school district are receiving some rather decent pensions, maybe even hefty?

Of his future pension benefits, Latinski said, “I never thought about it until you brought it up. In fact, somebody asked me today how many years I have and I said, ‘13.’ I guess I have more.”

Sorry Walt, but he just might be telling the truth.

I have no idea where the state of Mr. Latinski’s current finances may lie, but I’m more than willing to bet he’s able to afford Green Giant vegetables over the much lower priced generic veggies. Do we really need to paint him as some sort of tyrannical evil-doer bent on suppressing the will of the people for what amounts to chump change? In my mind, that’s unfortunate and completely needless obfuscation. We ask for an alternative to our one-party system and receive nothing but prevarication from the incessantly clueless local Republicans. Did I say Republicans? Oops, I meant “activists.”

I’m not sure if Mr. Latinski likes being written about by some lowly pajama-clad blogger such as myself, but if not, he should thank his lucky stars he never ran any high school I attended. If I could cause Mr. Sallitt to blow a few fuses, I could do him, too. Whatever.

Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Kathy Kane also retire from the Wilkes-Barre area School District? Didn’t she get a pension, too? So, to listen to Walter’s inane rant, she’s only been on council a few short years, but she too will deny the vote of the people to keep her evil and chilling stranglehold on power with both eyes firmly transfixed on that city pension. She’s drunk on power and concerned only, only about getting all that can be gotten from the city’s bottomless coffers by way of a taxpayer-provided pension. (?)

Even more poppycock.

Thomas said he’s vested in a pension with his other employer, Intermetro, and doesn’t have to rely on the city’s pension. “I’m not doing this for the pension or the benefits,” he said. “I do this to better the Wyoming Valley and the city of Wilkes-Barre.”

Now, in the always spinning activist’s mind, Tony Thomas Jr. is obviously lying to you. You see, he is a councilman and the activists have already established (At least, in their denuded minds) that council folk are all lying, vicious, manipulative, self-centered half-human beasts that prey upon the taxpaying public with little regard given to anything other than their bank accounts and suchlike. You know the tired mantra, they are evil-doers.

The only problem is, does Tony Thomas really come across as someone who ran for public office because he’s hurting for money and desperately covets a city pension? Quite the contrary. He works for a great employer and I’m absolutely certain Metro offers some outstanding pension options simply because a family member of mine also toiled away there for many years. Plus, he’s got the foodservice stuff going on all the time, so are we to assume that he’s counting on a city pension to get him through his twilight years? Or is he evil, too?

Apparently, poppycock has no limits. At least, not in Wilkes-Barre.

Rather than disparaging our sitting council folk--rather than painting them as something they are obviously not--how about if Walter goes positive for the very first time and shares with us his visionary plan for making Wilkes-Barre into a thriving third-class city? Take the high road, Walter. There can’t be that many potholes blocking your way, can there be? Share with us that which only the “activists” are privy to. Namely, why we as the taxpaying public should elect Republicans in this city. What’s the plan, man?

The Katsock Doctrine

Sadly, I already know what the tired plan is. It’s the oft-repeated Katsock Doctrine in which everything is an unneeded expense and cannot be undertaken. Everything is viewed as an expense and not an investment. And as it relates to forward-thinking urban planning, it smacks of economic isolationism. We will retreat from the oft-frightening world of urban planning, fill the potholes, paint a few curbs, sweep a few streets and then sit on our collective thumbs and complain about being a financially-stifled bedroom community that wants much, much more for and from itself than that. Replacing a few broken windows to counter the debilitating effects of reverse-gentrification won’t generate needed revenues and it won’t restore the vibrancy we once had as a city and claim to want to restore to this city.

What do they say in the private sector? If you want to generate money you have to first invest money. And as of this very moment, millions upon millions of dollars, both private and public, are being invested in this city, many of which require some matching funds from the city. But, if we stick with the very narrow parameters as laid down in the wonkish Katsock Doctrine, investing city dollars in the future is far beyond anathema. According to the suffocating plan, austerity is the key to the future and it’s paltry limits should be strictly adhered to.

In other words, we should invest nothing in the future, supposedly lower taxes, increase services somehow and then enjoy all that austerity has to offer. In still other words, the theater complex never gets built. The coming bus complex never gets built. The Sterling Hotel continues to languish until it finally drops over dead into the street. Boscov’s locks it’s doors forever more. And the long-allusive new businesses we’ve been not so patiently waiting on for over a generation now never materialize at all. We won’t have a pothole. We won’t have a single broken window. The streets will be swept on a regular basis. And our downtown will continue looking like a shell of it’s former self, but most importantly, it will not generate the much-needed revenues it could and should have been producing all along.

One more time…in other words, it’s a recipe for the continuation of the undeniably crushing white-flight exodus from the city to the suburbs that led us to the troubling reverse-gentrification of this city in the first place. It’s a recipe for further disaster, if not, further economic malaise.

The much-trumpeted benefits paid to council folk past and present did not lead the city to ruin. The current mayor’s salary is not killing us. What led Wilkes-Barre to the edge of the abyss and down into the burning pit just a few feet was a clear lack of forward-looking thinking from our elected leaders that “served“ us in the past. Ever since those dikes of ours burst back in ‘72, Wilkes-Barre has made urban planning blunder after urban planning blunder. The first was to bulldoze much of the downtown, and by doing so, making refugees of most of the indigenous downtown population. And the second was to stick with the business-as-usual approach to attracting new businesses to the city while all of the Wyoming Valley became completely enamored of it’s newest business--The Wyoming Valley Mall.

I’ve heard too many times that while Tom Leighton deserves credit for finally making things happen in the downtown, he merely took Tom McGroarty’s ideas and ran with them. The truth is, most of those revitalization concepts came from oft-derided people who were employed at the Chamber of Commerce. Their “bold” plan was but a simple plan. To finally rejuvenate that long-shuttered downtown of ours and generate significant revenues, vast amounts of money first needed to be invested in the troubled downtown. And that plan is just beginning to bear some marvelous-tasting fruit, but it stands in direct contrast to the ass-backwards plan the usual activist suspects have been selling: Spending taxpayer dollars must be avoided at all costs, no matter what.

And it is for that reason alone that Walter Griffith and his self-aggrandizing sidekicks need to be forever relegated to exactly where they’ve always been: On the outside looking in.

Look, vote for whomever you want. But before you cast your all-important vote, please differentiate between those who correctly seek to invest in out future and those who are steadfast in their mistaken belief that we cannot afford progress at any price.

Them’s my thoughts.

From the e-mail inbox Mark
Awesome, awesome party. Took us a day or so to recover. Thanks for the invite and we’ll definitely be there next year.


Me too.

From the e-mail inbox YEE-HAA. Way to go man. As a person who has been known to consume mass quantities of adult beverages; cigarettes, and on occasion rolled my own, your party sounded like fun. Man enjoy life as you can, there is no promise that you get another chance. We spend far too much time working our respective arses off just to pay for our habits [and others]. Glad ya'll enjoyed. You got to hear James Mcmurtry and a couple of his songs. "We can't make it here anymore" and my favorite "Choctaw Bingo". I have walked, hitched and Cadillacked the west so maybe it appeals more to me. I know you like good music so check it out. Also xm radio xm 12 between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. take care man johnny

All I can say is, Come on down!!! Remember, the second Saturday come next August. And bring some freaking Bugels.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark read your report on the block party and were glad to hear it was a big success, but how come your No.1 fireman buddy wasn't in attendance? Could it be that maybe he didn't get "SPECIAL PERMISSION" to attend? Seems he has been getting away with things he shouldn't be. I guess that's the reward you receive when your in good with not only the mayor but the chief!!!!!!!

Um, if memory serves, he was away enjoying a richly-deserved vacation. But thanks for being so utterly childish.

Getting away with things he shouldn’t be? So you’re the one posting comments on some of those other dormant local blogs. Nice anonymous work.

The thing is, he can live anywhere he wants to while going through a divorce. What was it, oh, a “domicile” thing. So, at least you’ve clearly managed to establish the fact that you’re sniping anonymously despite not knowing what the fu>k you’re going on and on about. Thank goodness you didn’t use your name, heh?

The photo-shopped picture you provided was really kind of lame, but I did send it along so that my “No. 1 fireman buddy” knows that not all of the purported heroes are what they claim to be. I guess he’ll now have to wonder about who’s covering his back while entering a burning structure. If you’re so willing to stab him in the back on the internet, what are you ultimately capable of when the flaming ceiling tiles come tumbling down?

Stay in touch. (?)

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark

Got the pic you forwarded, thanks. The pic was taken last February in Pittsburg. What a great city that is.

Sorry Jo and I missed the party this year. We were away as you know for a week and really had a kick ass time. Went parasailing over the Atlantic with the sun going down. What an awesome ride that was. I saw the familiar faces and the great crowd you had for this years party that you posted and really wish we could have made it like we did last year. Now that we know when the party is every year we can plan around it. Thanks for posting the pictures for those of us who could not be with you this year. Keep in touch.

Larry (tell Gage and the other grandrodents we said hello)

I’ll tell Gage. I’m going to call him tomorrow night just before he heads off to bed early in anticipation of his very first day of school.

Stay in touch.

From the e-mail inbox I enjoyed reading through some of your rantings on your website. I especially love the stuff about Kevin Lynn...a friggin train wreck.....You should think about doing a show of your own and making it available for podcast or a local sirrius station (if there is one)..or make your own...we need an alternative voice in this area for this area.

I haven't had the time to listen to WILK lately and when I do get a chance to listen to Kev in the morning it doesn't take me long to turn him off.

One question....I was reading through the quotes about you and I didn’t see any from Kevin Lynn...I am sure he has said something negative about you,,,you should post it...that would be funny.

Take Care and keep up the good work.


Thanks. Good to hear from you.

As for Kevin, what are you going to do with these aging, frustrated Marxists? They told us they were going to make the world sing in perfect harmony, and now they are reduced to feeling bitter 24/7 because their grandiose utopian dreams went up in smoke just about as fast as their acid-laced banana peels did.

It must suck to be wrong all the time. Maybe we should have pity on him. Christ! The guy can’t even land a fulltime job despite his all-knowing brilliance.

Insults? Oh, I’m sure he has insulted me, but I missed it if he did. I went toe-to-toe with him 3 times on WILK and got him all kinds of exasperated each time, right before he rudely hung up on me. Chia Kev is a master at misdirecting the arguments of those that are not well-read, but I will never be categorized as such. The way I see it, I’ve cut him a major break by refusing to call him anymore.

It’s amusing, he constantly derides Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as being “goobers,” but I must remind him that he lost his former time slot, 3-6 pm, to none other than Sean Hannity. The thing is, his failed, liberally-minded Euro-centric swill didn’t generate enough revenue to stave off the thoughts of a “goober.” And when that inevitable day finally arrives--when WILK finally removes him from the airwaves of NEPA--I will use a sick day and revel in his long-overdue broadcasting demise.

Flippant name-calling does not make for good local talk radio. But, unlike Fred Williams before him, Kevin mostly sucks up to those in power while saving the absolute worse of his scandalous name-calling for the little guys. The folks like me and you. Day-in and day-out, he reminds us of his “obvious” moral and intellectual superiority. Put bluntly, he’s a sham of a hollow man with a really good vocabulary. I’d rather be an inbred redneck brewing some lemon beer than him.

Stay in touch.

How poor is that coming from a co-worker?

Lame, very lame.