12-21-2006 The stuff of tyrants

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.--Voltaire

In highly predictable fashion, one of our local activist/candidate/bloggers has gone and threatened me with unspeakable legal horrors.

This is typical behavior from those who thrust themselves into the limelight by throwing unsubstantiated, yet accusatory bombs at every public figure in sight. Inflammatory accusations, incendiary rhetoric and close scrutiny is acceptable to the self-appointed muckrakers so long as they are not the recipients of that which they feel absolutely no compunction at all about inflicting upon others as if by some perceived executive fiat, or perhaps, by divine providence. No one in their way--in their pursuit of power--is spared their incessantly ill-thought out wrath, but they become reflexively thin-skinned when their slanderous words suddenly come under the microscope for closer reexamination. In their vacuous minds, outgoing fire constitutes good citizenship, while incoming fire should entitle them to a completely different rule set.

During their frequent publicized misadventures, they level baseless charges against elected officials but are rarely, if ever called upon to substantiate any of the unfair, ill-advised political snake oil they offer at no cost to the consumers of such patently absurd garbage. In their overzealous pursuit to hoodwink the electorate into believing their misguided civic endeavors constitute anything more than the useless guttersniping it actually is, they rant, rave, misquote, misrepresent and mischaracterize as if that is their protected right. Yet, in doing so, they then demand to remain above the mud-throwing frays they alone create. In effect, they seem to think they should never be held accountable for their prevarication in any form or manner. And, as that mindset applies to the ongoing public discourse, it is utter sophistry of thought.

From the e-mail inbox Dear Marc,

I was informed that there was a picture of XXXX XXXX XXXX on your web page...I have also been informed that your web page has other information concerning me as well as personal information that would be considered harassment and stalking under the PA Criminal Code....Please be advised that I will not tolerate this type of invasion of my privacy or of my business property....I will file charges with the local Police if I see any other pictures or invasion or Stalking of my personal property or Buisness.

Isn’t that just special. Yet another person who sought to be a public figure can’t stand the glaring heat in the kitchen once he gets there. If I had a plug nickel or two for every time somebody upped and threatened me, either via e-mail or by the much more direct toe-to-toe approach, I’d likely own your ramshackle business.

Stalking, huh? This is what we get from the people who publicly call our elected officials every name in the book in addition to accusing them of every conceivable wrongdoing. And all without even a miniscule shed of proof, no less. This is the guy who accused me in print of doing the evil bidding of the corrupt others, which, if you know me, you know to be patently absurd. This is the same guy who erroneously points out some new sort of corruption scheme practically every time he opens his yap. And despite his years-long trail of vitriolic accusations made against nearly all elected comers, he has yet to prove any of his regularly regurgitated political vomit.

Still, he points to his laughably threadbare record of tireless activism and demands respect. He conveniently puts out of mind all of his self-aggrandizing and thoroughly tiresome theatrics that amount to little more than pompous posturing, and threatens those who call him on all of it. There are no caustic, hurtful words we shouldn’t be willing to endure when he’s the one doing the unrelenting accusing, but any attempt to rebut him in public should become a matter for the authorities to investigate. Such is the feeble mindset of the modern day overwrought, overzealous revolutionary.

As to the specifics of your threat, there is absolutely no personal information of yours listed anywhere on this web site. Everything that appears here was taken from the public domain, the public record, or the local airwaves. I care not about the personal life of anyone that endeavors to manage my city. But I do care very much about what they say, and what they say they would do with my city if put in charge of it.

Although, I do find it to be highly amusing that the one person most known for saying he’s fighting to protect “the will of the people” and “the voice of the people” would threaten to bring the local cops down on any of his numerous detractors. There’s an obviously blatant double standard at work there. You feel free to smear the reputations of practically anyone standing in the way of your long-illusive political brass ring, but resistance to your impulsive mud-slinging efforts will not be tolerated? This from the guy promising the utmost in transparency and accountability in local government?

Yeah, and explain to me how one picture taken by a guy who has literally taken countless thousands upon thousands of pictures of damn near every person, place and thing in Northeastern Pennsylvania constitutes a charge of stalking? A picture of a building taken from 300 yards away, no less. I’ve got more of what they call file photos at my disposal than our two newspapers combined. Oh, but that one photo taken of your property from far away is grounds for an obvious overreaction on your part?

Correct me if I’m somehow off-base, but isn’t the purpose of stalking to eventually make contact with the person being stalked? I’ve never contacted you, or even laid eyes on you in person. I’ve never called you. I’ve never sent you an e-mail. And I’ve never sent you a telegram. But I have published my thoughts on your thoughts about how a third-class city should be properly managed. And since I’ve never attempted to make contact with you in any manner, I’m left to assume what you’re really threatening to do is subvert “the voice of the people” if and when they vociferously disagree with you. Sorry, but that’s the stuff of tyrants, not revolutionaries.

In fact, if the true purpose of stalking is to eventually make contact with the person being stalked, my e-mail inbox paints an entirely different picture. If I’m reading this correctly, you’re stalking me. And simply because you are intolerant of dissenting opinions. Sorry, but that’s the stuff of tyrants, not revolutionaries.

As for that picture I posted, if it truly upsets you, I would be more than happy to delete it pronto. Although, that would be the very first time that anyone has ever objected to my having posted a picture of a structure, standing or otherwise. (?) Sounds kind of lame to me.

To be honest, I’m a bit confused by your threat. I thought the activists of your ilk told us that government and the ongoing debate of it’s scope should be all-inclusive. I thought we were told that everyone, no matter what, should do their civic duty and get involved to some extent. I thought we were being encouraged and then some to make our usually nonexistent voices heard. I thought that was, like, the activist’s creed, or some such thing. Raise some hell, right?

From what you’re telling me today, the ongoing debate is important as long as you remain head and shoulders above it. You can sully any reputation you see fit for your political ends, but we are not allowed to take exception to it? Your right to free speech is protected, but mine is a different story given to interpretation when it clashes with your wants and needs? Is that what you’re telling me now? Everyone is fair game, but you’re off-limits? Sorry, but that’s the stuff of tyrants, not revolutionaries.

Let’s revisit some your less than responsible phlegm:

From the Times Leader:

“From what I see, it’s not run for the people. It’s run by the people for their own benefit,” XXXX said.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

“Somebody needs to be held accountable for breaking the law,” XXXX said. “Somebody screwed up the program to say close the clocks at 7 o’clock. Was that a program problem with ESS or were they told to close the polls at 7 o’clock?”

From the internet:

Seems the Mayor of Wilkes Barre is conducting his real estate business at City Hall now and using the City Government for leverage with the help of City Council...

I think the Mayor should stop taking care of his Brother in Law, Chief Dessoye and start taking care of the residents...

I think the Fire fighters are being short changed and the Mayor is taking care of the Police because Chief Dessoye is his Brother in Law…

It's a shame they can't understand what he is trying to convey but then if they did, we'd suspect that aliens took over their bodies as nesting places until the next spaceship leaves.

I also wont be collecting a Pension like Bill Barrett collects $50,000.00 a year from the Police Dept plus the salary his wife collects of $45,000.00 makes the Barrett household a City Taxpayer dead weight that must be removed....

Just more of the same in City Hall...to bad they were not that free when Mayor McGrourty was in office...we could have had "progress as Promised" instead of a Mayor and City Council that are in the Real Estate business.

...and for him to sacrifice these qualities to sit on City Council with the likes of a dimwit and no personality people such as Phil Latinski and Jim McCarthy and Kathy Kane and Tony Thomas, must be difficult and painful.

The fact of the matter is that Todd Vonderheid is rarely if ever in the County Courthouse and most of the time Greg and Steve are not there either....

The Antics of the Mayor of Wilkes Barre are continuing on Thursday as Mayor Realty and City Council also known as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, prepare to purchase a property from one of the Mayor's realty buddies…

Kathy Kane and a few others on City Council try to intimidate the taxpayers but it is'nt working and the taxpayers will win in 2007.

I find it real strange that Councilperson Kathy Kane and Jim McCarthy were the ones that set Denise Carey up for the fight to get a fire house in the Heights and then when the Mayor and City Attorneys went to court and Denise got a legal bill of $11,000.00 they were nowhere to be found in her defense

...not a bunch of "rubber stamps" for a Mayor that lines his own pockets with political campaign money.

…but I feel the Mayor has a personal agenda because he is in real estate that the City Taxpayers should not be funding..I feel the City Council should and must pass legislation to protect the taxpayers from this type of personal gain by the Mayor.

..Bill Barrett and Mike McGinley and Phil Latinski are more worried about ordinances that make us pay more money to the City for fines and fee's than they are worried about the Residents safety…

Nothing scandalous or slanderous going on there, huh? And I see you thought it was perfectly acceptable to invade the privacy--the “household”--of the Barrett’s. Sure, their incomes are part of the public record, but your obvious inference is that they on the dole and that is just not the case.

I love this one.

Letters to the editor:

The City Administration is boasting about the theater and multi million-dollar complex that is currently under construction, that it will bring the City downtown back to an 18 hour downtown. The City fails to acknowledge to the City residents that pay taxes, that this project is not going to generate a single dime to the City Tax base because it is in a KOZ Zone and the taxpayers will be paying for all the services that this project will require in the future…I.E. Police and Fire Protection. I” Believe” that if you make the downtown safe from shootings and stabbings, the businesses will come to downtown Wilkes-Barre and not leave because of the crime that is so rampant on our downtown streets.

Not a single dime, heh? Hey, too late. Once it’s published, it’s published. It may not stand the test of time, but it does provide a telling glimpse of the abject shortsightedness you bring to the table.

The “Mayor that lines his own pockets with political campaign money.”

…this type of personal gain by the Mayor.

Care to explain? Oh, that’s right. How silly of me. You never provide any tangible proof, only the groundless accusations. Like when you quite purposely hinted that the mayor’s inauguration ball was paid for by the taxpayers, right? Like that? No biggie, though. Nobody ever sued you, so you might as well keep on with the rapid-fire accusation routine. Everybody is a liar, a cheat, a scoundrel and a criminal, but you are above reproach despite being wrong on a continuing basis. I see how this game is supposed to work. You accuse, they refute. You accuse, they refute. But when we try to refute your typical swill, well, that’s not allowed and may result in lots of legalese being thrown about. Sorry, but that’s the stuff of tyrants, not revolutionaries.

Anyway, let’s conclude this exercise as I’ve got to do some shopping.

Another threat of legal action? Jeez, that’s like six years in a row now. Reminds me of when Jolyn Resnick, a former reporter from the Times Leader, showed up here as we were tapping the first keg and asked me if I thought the former mayor would “raid” our block party after he denied us the necessary permit just to be vindictive.

I told her I didn’t know, nor did I care how the mayor would react to our obvious defiance, but what I did know was that if he wanted a public relations nightmare to deal with, raiding a long-running block party in a nice neighborhood would do very nicely.

And what I would say to the local government critic currently currying favor with the voters of this city is that if he wants a public relations nightmare on his hands, this threat has all of the necessary hallmarks.

Unleash that Pennsylvania criminal code if you must, but remember, then you’d have to explain to those very same voters you so covet why the ultimate critic turned candidate can’t and won’t allow himself to be criticized. Explain to those voters why you can do it to anyone you like, but you steadfastly refuse to allow anyone to do it to you. Explain to those would-be voters why you openly sought to deny someone their right to free speech simply because said speech was not to your liking. Open that can of political worms and see if it works out to your advantage.

Explain to them how that is not the stuff of tyrants.