11-21-2005 Tennessee

Well, itĎs official. To be brutally honest, I had hoped it wouldnít come to pass. And even if itís childishly selfish and overly indelicate to say as much, I really donít want it to happen. Actually, I somehow thought it would never happen to me. But, just like those who came before me here in Happy Coal Valley, one of my kids is relocating to another state. And along with her goes two of my grandkids.

Yes, Gage Andrew and Taylor Kate will be residing somewhere near Knoxville, Tennessee within the month. Iíd cut my hand off if I thought it would change that fact, but after a week of stewing on the latest heart-wrenching news, I have resigned myself to the fact that Iím going to have the use of both of my hands for the foreseeable future. If I could cry, I would. Truth is, I want to.

I guess Iím supposed to be happy for my son-in-law as his well-deserved and long anticipated promotion has finally come about. And I should be content in the knowledge that he works hard, amply provides for my daughter and her kids and their finances can only improve as a result of this move. But I keep thinking about the miles of separation that will be between us and frustration damn near overwhelms me. Tennessee? A 13-hour drive by car? Suddenly, Pottsville doesnít seem so far away.

Whatever. I figure Iíll focus on the upside of things. I figure theyíll be safe and sound down there in the Bible belt. Think about it. If you were, say, a terrorist, would you waste any perfectly good batches of nerve gas on any part of Tennessee? Um, they wonít need a furnace, or snow tires anymore. Although, they grow cockroaches down there big enough to carry away my grandkids. Isnít Fort Knox in that state? Doesnít matter. Our currency isnít based on gold anymore, so Goldfinger II isnít going to happen. Tennessee is the home state of one of the most-recognized insane persons the world over: Al Gore. Heís so thoroughly crazy, his fellow cow-tippers wouldnít even back his run at the presidency. I dunno.

A cursory Google search tells me that Knoxville is without doubt the murder, rape, sodomy and aggravated assault capitol of that entire state. Okay, I made that sh*t up just in case my daughter reads this. I know, resistance is futile. Give it up, Dad.

I donít know, but it just seems inherently wrong to go shopping at anything called Piggly Wigglyís, okay? Ack-a-me is doable, hayna? Pigglyís ainít. Anything with pig in itís name sounds like it ought to be built within walking distance of a ramshackle trailer park. And what about the hordes of Baptists? What about them? Spend enough time with them and youíll be cheering when queer boys get chained to pickup trucks and taken for a lengthy spin. And Pat Robertson might even start making sense to you. Gage watching The 700 Club? My grandkids taking ten seconds to say a one-syllable word? Shhhhh******ttttt, maaahhh. Iím speechless. Plus, what do they call piss-the-beds down there? Field plowers? Andy Kaufman was right.

Resistance if futile. Got it.

All I know is, Iím gonna miss my little biking buddy, and Iím not really sure why I will have to. Heís been by my side so for long, I canít imagine not seeing him for weeks, maybe even months on end. At the tender age of five, heís done more and seen more than any five-year-old could even hope to experience, and heís done most of that exploring right by my side. I always figured that the only kid to grow up on the internet in Wilkes-Barre would one day settle in Wilkes-Barre. I figured wrong.

This harkens me back to when all of my high school buddies finished college and quickly moved away never to return. Whatís more important? Money or family? Based on what I see, most people would sell their souls for a larger SUV, so I must be the oddball when it comes to love of money. Besides, if family was more important than money, there would be no such things as those horrendous daycare warehouses. Sorry, but the long-distance family thing doesnít work for me. I guess Iím being selfish all over again. Iím going to work on putting a happy face on all of this, itís just that I feel like Iím being divorced.

Iím rambling, arenít I? Truth is, Iím not sure when that phenomenon will cease, but Iím trying to cope. Itís just that a piece of me I didnít even know I had has been ripped right out of me.

And it hurts.

Much like the leaves themselves, the leaves brouhaha just wonĎt go away.

Leighton: Leaves didnít worsen flood

WILKES-BARRE Ė Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton says leaves played no role in Thursdayís flooding, but a city councilman insists they did and is calling on the city to devise a new plan to address leaf pickup and storm-drain cleaning.

ďI think there are some situations in some of the streets where, if catch basins were clean, it would have minimized that (the damage),Ē Councilman Michael McGinley said.

ďTheyíre doing a great job, but we need to come up with a better plan to have the storm drains cleaned more often,Ē he said. ďSome were filled all the way to the top with leaves and silt.Ē

McGinley said he would support paying overtime to city workers for more frequent leaf pickups and to clear the streets of leaves more regularly.

Everything McGinley had to say was reasonable right up until he said he was willing to authorize more overtime pay. Last I heard, somebody estimated the cityís outstanding debts to be in the $51-56 million range. Thatís a lot of outstanding debts. Plus, when the current administration took over, it had to float a $10.5 million Tax Anticipation Note to cover the previous administrations unpaid, overdue debts. Now they tell me the city needs another $5 million TAN to get that intermodel bus center project completed. And while the bus center and the resulting streetscaping project will add much to a rapidly improving downtown environment, we need to resist the urge to start spending money willy nilly style.

Remember, weíre going to be voting by districts. And our district councilmen will be concerned about their districts and their districts alone. And as a result, weíre going to receive a steady diet of councilman saying we should authorize overtime and what have you so as to please their 8,000 or so constituents. Leaves here. Graffiti there. A catch basin or two over there. Mowing the grass down there, and Voila! there goes your financial discipline.

Despite signs of progress all around us, we still need to balance the budgets. We still need to run the city more like a business. We need that one eye on the bottom line at all times, or weíre going to get into financial trouble all over again. This current administration has presented balanced budgets and managed to live within their means. And that trend needs to continue no matter what.

All Iím saying is beware of city council folk bearing overtime.

As to the raging debate about the flooding, I was out there during the height of the storm. And I was out there early the next morning to eyeball itís immediate aftermath. Yes, there are plenty of leaves on our streets. And, yes, they do cause a problem in some isolated spots. ButÖwhen the manhole covers are launched skyward by the raging waters and the catch basins are back flowing water into the streets, the leaves are less of an issue than the improper storm water management up on that overdeveloped hill above us. Flooding seems to be the Ďnorm around here, and weíd better get used to it.

With that said, short of spending money on overtime, Mike McGinley is correct. Since many of the residents in this city donít seem to give a flying fu>k about maintaining their properties and the direct byproducts of said properties, we probably need to be doing everything possible to lessen the severity of the next flood that we all know is coming. The vexing question is, how do we manage that without spending too much money?

The sad part of all of this leaves nonsense is the fact that people ignore the obvious on a daily basis. Either through stupidity or laziness or both, residents see the leaves and whatnot collecting out front and wonít do a damn thing about them. But, if the storm drain gets clogged up and their precious basement takes three inches of water, then theyíre fighting mad and not going to take it anymore. I regularly clean the catch basins down at the end of this street. And George from the gas station across the intersection does likewise and cleans the basins on Butler street. It sure beats flooding, but weíre not lazy assholes like most of the rest of you. We donít bitch, we do.

You want Wilkes-Barre to go leaf-free from here on out? (Dream on) Fine, then tell us how weíre going to pay for it and everything else people often get a hankering for. The wish list is infinite, but the same cannot be said of the finances.

Questions, questions, questions, flooding through the minds of the concerned resident today.

From the e-mail inbox Marc, itís Lxx, I wrote to you a few times a couple of months ago. Grew up in the W-B and now live in Philadelphia. Anyway, my question is do you know what happened to Casey Jones? I enjoyed reading his columns and now he appears to be gone. Was he fired by the new owner? That would be a shame.

Unknown. He disappeared and then at the end of a recent column by Renita Fennick, there was a smallish blurb stating that his column would no longer appear as he was no longer employed by the Times Leader.

I didnít enjoy his column, and I thought a lot of the stuff he penned wasnít nearly as good as some of the content that blogs offer. In my mind, if youíve got all week to mull over a rather short story, it ought to be a kick-ass column more often than not.

Somebody floated a rumor wherein Steve Corbett would be returning to the Times Leader, but would he really trade the sunny confines of Southern California for Wilkes-Barre?

From the e-mail inbox He left a comment on my blog blaming the Mayor for the rain and flooding. In fact he left the same comment on several other blogs that was cut and paste of the one he treated me to. At least my post that he commented on was about the flooding. The other sites he hit had posts that had nothing to do with the water. Someone has to give this guy a lesson on how to use the internet. Right now he is a comment spammer and we all know how much we love that. Your not going to get elected to anything if you piss people off. What's worse he doesn't know he's pissing people off.

Good ole Walter. He wants to run the world, but he canít even get a blog down correctly. How sad is that? I noticed that he was spamming everybody within striking distance and finally started getting called out on it. Hereís a guy who thinks every Web site out there should be a billboard for his relentless political posturing. How ignorant is that?

As far as Iím concerned, all that heís managed to do by invading the local internet is damage is chances of getting himself elected. His inane rants are sophomoric, his reasoning is beyond questionable and while he criticizes practically everyone and everything, his typical puddle of piddle is always devoid of workable solutions, if any at all. And yet, he publishes that useless twaddle for all to see.

Iíve learned that it is virtually impossible to convince a dodo that they are indeed a dodo, so Iím hoping he figures it out come election night when he gets trounced.

Vote for the comment spammer?


Oh, yeah. The morning after the marauding leaves ripped bridges down and suchlike he called Sue Henry at WILK and had the following to say. And I quote: ďThe city never comes by to pick them up, so they get scattered all over again.Ē

Um, where I come fromÖhere, thatís what theyíd call a bald-faced lie. And weíve got the pictures to prove it.

Pictures donĎt lie, Walter

I say again, DUH!

When Wilkes-Barreís in trouble I am not slow. Itís bitch, bitch, bitch and away I go!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder

Fighting all who rob or plunder

Underdog. Underdog!

I dunno. UnderWalt sounded kind of dumb. But there is no denying that he is Wilkes-Barreís #1 blamestormer.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

Mohegan is NOT a bad thing. I dont want to debate it, but it is a money bringer. We will see benefit from it.


**when is blogger bar night????

Blogger bar night? Got me, Iíll approach Michael G. Rennie at the Northeast Blogging Council and see whatís what?

A money bringer?

Nah, Iím still very, very skeptical about all of that. For instance, when the real casino is built next year, itíll have everything you might need within itís walls, so there will be no benefit--no foot traffic--to any adjacent businesses.

In addition, somebody or other went to Connecticut and interviewed the town folk where the original Muckegan resort lies, and to a person they all said there really wasnít any spin-off business to speak of from that casino. Itís more or less a one-stop shopping outlet.

And whoís it going to bring money to other than those pretend Indians? I dunno. We shall see, but Iím not grooving this Sin City routine. Remember how we got to this point. Out of control government spending and mismanagement brought us the casinos. In lieu of responsible governing, they give us slot machines?

Sounds like double taxation for those who choose to participate.

Gage & Taylor in November Ď06

I donít think youíll see this in any Kramer reruns anytime soon.

Ranks right up there with Andy Kaufmanís tirade on Letterman: