12-13-2006 What are our responsibilities?

The Yankees are coming! The Yankees are coming!

Like, big whoop. Yes, this is going to be a big plus for area hoteliers and such what. And, yes, it certainly beats being affiliated with the oft-floundering Phillies. And the new team name…well, it sure beats being called the Breaker Pigs, I suppose. But, whatever gave my step-dad pleasure caused me to reflexively recoil from in horror. Anyway, I attended my last Yankees game in 1970, and I means to keep it that way.

Although, I guess I should lighten up at some point. The old guy was institutionalized in Connecticut a couple of months ago after the onset of some weird form of dementia or something closely related. He’s a shell of his former self these days. But still, memories die hard, especially the really bad ones.

No Breaker Pigs for this lost soul.

I dunno, you know? The upstart pundits keep repeating Kathy Kane’s name when the focus turns to the upcoming county commissioner scrum. But, if she’s got her eye transfixed on a cushy part-time seat under that rotunda dome, then why beat up on fellow councilman Jim McCarthy?

Are these the opening salvos of the soon-to-be city council free-for-all? Is she working to create some separation from her district mate whereas the issues are concerned, while the May brouhaha looms on the horizon? Interesting.

From the Times Leader:

W-B councilman unveils map for proposed sexual offenders ordinance

Councilwoman Kathy Kane, who would face McCarthy in the 2007 election if they both decide to run, immediately took a shot at McCarthy when he presented the map to Mayor Tom Leighton.

“How difficult was that, Jim?” she asked. “That wasn’t difficult at all, was it?”

Later, while McCarthy was describing the research he did to help form the ordinance, Kane called out, “Filibuster,” before letting out a groan.

I hope these two are not seated right next to each other. Fight nice, kiddies. Oh, and Jim…watch those fingernails, man. Chicks fight dirty.

Councilman Phil Latinski said the city will have to constantly update the addresses of sexual offenders and make sure a home that had belonged to a sexual offender is taken off the list when a nonsexual offender begins living there.

“We could be putting some innocent person in danger …,” Latinski said, recalling a recent incident in which he said the former home of a pedophile was egged and destroyed after the offender had moved out.

McCarthy said Latinski’s concerns should be addressed to state police, who compile the list that the city will use to determine where the offenders are living.

Actually, it’s up to the offenders themselves to register their new addresses with the state police when they decide to pull up stakes. But all too often, they fail to do so. We had an incident up here in the Nord End that some tried to blame on me, but I had nothing to do with it. Some guy failed to register his Nord End address, so somebody else took it upon themselves to make copies of his glossy, attached a warning that he was an unregistered sexual predator and plastered that little flyer up and down North Main Street.

Laws and ordnances are wonderful and law. Enforcing said statutes is a whole other issue.

I’m just saying.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

City officials blame township development for water woes

If anyone else asks us for permission to use our sewer lines, absolutely not,” Thomas said at a work session Tuesday. “We can’t justify our town being flooded every time it rains because other communities will not hook into a sewer line available to them. They keep coming to Wilkes-Barre. It’s killing our city. It’s killing our residents’ homes and their automobiles and everything they worked for in their yards and around their houses because everyone else wants to grow.”

Thomas blamed Wilkes-Barre Township developments for forcing water run-off into Intermetro Industries six times in the last two years.

He is 100% correct to claim that more planning needs to go into proper storm water management. But, what needs to be closely examined is just how much urban sprawl our local watershed can handle. If the clear-cutting of trees continues and pristine areas continue to become wide tracts of asphalt, improved runoff planning will no doubt reduce stream flooding to an appreciable degree, but then the likelihood is that the river will rise even more dramatically than it has in the past during the heaviest of the precipitation events.

The rapid over-development of Wilkes-Barre Township needs to be reexamined before anymore building permits are issued. In addition, if the development continues, the resulting storm runoff can no longer be aimed directly at Wilkes-Barre. The undeniable fact is, our aged system of pipes and such can no longer handle what is being sent our way.

And while we obviously need some significant federal pork to fix that which ails us, more importantly, we need engineers and the like rather than local politicians and their cronies addressing any proposed fixes.

My clean street:

This exchange printed on the pages of the Citizens’ Voice got me to wondering about something.

First, a letter from the mayor:

Storms strain city’s manpower but don’t weaken its spirit

Next, a letter from an upset resident:

It’s job of city, not residents, to clean out storm drains

I fail to see how the city could just suspend it’s scheduled services during the run-up to a predicted rain storm and clear all of the catch basins throughout the city. If that actually came about on a semi-regular basis, then the letter writers would be complaining that their curbside pickups didn’t come about in a timely manner. Something like that.

What I’m wondering is, assuming we all want to live in a city we can take pride in, exactly what are our responsibilities as residents? Should we make an effort? Or just sit on our fat asses and whine incessantly?

If the storm drain out front is covered over by something or other with Tom Clark predicting a near monsoon and soon, do we invest the five minutes it’d probably take to clear the drain, or do we do absolutely nothing and complain after the street floods? Y’all know how I feel. Wifey and I have been known to clear storm drains, pull the weeds at the curb line from one end of our street to the other, sweep the entire street on occasion, and remove the rubbish the scumballs throw down the bank at the top of the street. We mow the grass out back, which I believe is owned by the city. We see this as less of a chore, and more like some much-needed exercise.

During the past couple of years, the city has provided us with a push broom, a rake, a lawnmower and garbage bags. The city even sent a truck by one time to pick up a mound of vegetation we removed from the bank turned illegal landfill. We did not receive a key to the city, nor a proclamation naming us ‘Residents of the Year,’ nor did we get invited to any drinking parties exclusive to the elite movers and shakers. What we got out of the deal was a clean looking street, and the satisfaction that comes with doing your part. Call us crazy if you must, but we like living on a nice, well-kept street.

Conversely, the very next side street up the line looks like dung. It’s got weeds from one end to the other. Litter and recyclables blowing around. A huge silt deposit at the end of the street. And unchecked vegetation at the top which makes it easier for the scumballs to dump illegally. Obviously, the people that reside on that street are comfortable with things as they are. I wouldn’t be, but they seem to be. But, is it too much to ask of residents to take some pride in their immediate surroundings? Is a smallish street too much for them to handle? Or should they write a letter to the newspaper blaming the city for their shabby-looking environment?

When they don’t send the street sweepers, the residents complain. And when they do send in the street sweepers, the residents are too completely lazy to head outside and move their cars. The neighbors won’t control the leaves emanating from their properties, and then blame the city for the leaf buildups that result when the rain carries them away. The recyclables lying on their tree lawns go completely unnoticed, but the crushed recyclables that make their way to the storm sewers and add to the blockages anger them. What’s that old adage whereby an ounce of prevention is presented as a virtuous thing?

All I know is, with the city’s resources stretched so thin, the residents can very easily chip in and make a very, very noticeable difference. Should they have to? Probably not. But is it in their own best interests to do so? As far as I’m concerned, that one is an obvious no-brainer.

Wifey and I worked to maintain this tiny street when Tom McGroarty was in charge, and we’re quick to do the same under Tom Leighton. We take pride in our little corner of the world. The question for me is, why are so many others so unwilling to take pride in their little corners?

The illogic confounds me.

From the e-mail inbox Mark:

Yep...got that one. It's a great read. Ed spent an incredible amount of time on PA's streams and rivers to put that book together. Right now, a group of local and state agencies, assisted by some very knowledgeable river rats including EMO's David Buck and a cast of nameless characters, are working on a very detailed river trail map that should be out in the next year. At least for the Susquehanna, it'll have far more information about rapids, obstacles, and where you can pull over and get supplies, camp, etc. I get a call now and then to review some things and confirm others. I'm pretty sure it's almost complete.

Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas. If a bag of Bugles and a box of Junior Mints show up under the tree...Enjoy!


Yeah, I figured you had a copy. Me, I’m not one for mapping streams and rivers. Hey, I’m still excited about being trusted with my very own river whistle. Lo and behold, I even got to give it a toot this year when that ‘yaker decided to flip his boat upside down.

Have a good one, too. Junior Mints? Nah, Christmas is very serious business and I don’t wanna see anything except goodies purchased from Gallery of Sound.

My wife is not lazy

Should we ban smoking in Wilkes-Barre? Um, yeah. Right after we ban the smoking of heroin.