1-31-2007 Nord End

I had to make my way to the shop yesterday for my yearly review. I seriously doubt that very many of you have been put under a microscope as powerful as this one, but it’s a positive thing in my view. I am provided the opportunity to sit face-to-face with my direct supervisor, hear his no-sh*t assessment of my capabilities and then take issue with whatever I do not agree with. Although, on this particular day there was very, very little to haggle over as we are in agreement that I am the best at what I do.

Braggin’? Nah, facts is facts.

Speaking of work, my vacation requests were approved meaning that I’ll be scheduled off on the morning after the big primary election vote. They (whoever they are) are saying this voting by districts thing is a historic undertaking in this smallish city and I intend to take it all in.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Kane announces re-election bid

No big surprise there.

From the Times Leader:

Minority on council possible, says NAACP head


Finally, from the Times Leader:

W-B city council races taking shape

Actually, I think this story is probably a bit premature in that I fully expect many more candidates to emerge. I mean, if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a city councilman, now is definitely the time to jump into the political slugfest. As a candidate, you’ve got no more than 8,500 voters to impress, a much smaller district to have to canvass and you shouldn’t need to spend too much money to get your message out.

Of course, in four of the five voting districts you’ll be facing an incumbent. But they should be easy to upset because, as the current illogic goes, they have neglected the neighborhoods in favor of trying to kick-start Wilkes-Barre’s long-stalled economic engine--the downtown.

10 signatures and you’re in, kiddies.

District E: A wide-open seat

At least three people have thrown their hats into the ring in the incumbent-free District E, which includes the North End, Brookside and portions of Miners Mills.

Virgil Argenta, a 46-year-old Democrat, said he wants to improve conditions in neighborhoods throughout the city. He commends council’s work on reinvigorating the downtown, but says officials haven’t done enough in other areas.

“Everything they’re doing in the downtown is great, but there are some neighborhoods that need attention,” said Argenta, who owns a fuel oil company and several properties. Argenta, who has lived in the city for 30 years, ran in the last council election and lost. He has been a Democratic committeeman for 12 years, but said this will be his last year in that role.

Republican John Yencha, who is also vying for the District E seat, said he agrees that certain areas of the city have been ignored.

“There’s nobody up in this area,” said Yencha, referring to council members in his section. “We’re all forgotten – everything’s downtown.”

Yencha, a retired state police trooper and former Wilkes-Barre Area School Board member, is a member of the city’s zoning hearing board. He said he’s a lifelong city resident but declined to disclose his age.

Democrat Ron Silkoski, who worked in the film, publishing and newspaper industries before retiring and returning to his native Wilkes-Barre, also plans to run for the District E seat.

Silkoski, 64, said he was employed for 10 years by the Los Angeles Times, where he performed surveys for the newspaper. He said he could use the same techniques to survey city residents as a councilman to see how residents feel about certain issues.

The ‘neighborhoods have been forgotten’ angle seems to be the platform of choice at the moment, but it got me to thinking more specifically about my neighborhood’s problems. What’s so god awful about the Nord End?

Well, for starters, the dilapidated Murray property on Courtright Street needs to be removed from the local landscape, but the ownership of said property is purported to be in “receivership” or some such legalese mumbo jumbo. This one is easier said than done. And anyone who suggests otherwise is either short on facts, or stretching the truth.

Conyngham Avenue needs to be redone. The snag here is that no one resides on that bumpy block meaning revenue sources like Community Development Block Grants and Liquid Fuel Taxes that are typically applied to paving projects in the city cannot be used to redo that street. So, should we drain the general fund on what promises to be an expensive project?

We’ve got that horribly-rotted bridge on N. Washington Street that overpasses some long-unused railroad tracks. The last I heard about replacing it was that the company that once owned the tracks and the bridge and such no longer existed which brought the ownership question into the fold. Another easier said than done problem? Perhaps.

We’ve got the pothole-riddled intersection of N. Washington and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard that needs some attention and soon. Although, the Nord End had more than it’s fair share of streets paved in 2007, so it’s not as if, as some are suggesting, that our section of the city has been forgotten.

What else?

We’ve got a few derelict homes that need to be demolished and carted off to the landfill. With that said, every time the city does remove an abandoned eyesore, the disaffected activists start screaming corruption to anyone dimwitted enough to listen. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The city fixed the crumbling wall on N. Main Street, so that’s no longer an issue for the clod who was sabotaging the thing by darkness. That reminds me, whatever happened to the video of the sabotaging being done? Interesting.

Ah, we’re in good shape as far as street signs, sidewalks and storm sewers are concerned. Much, much better than we were, say, five years ago when practically all of the storm sewers were collapsing in upon themselves. No broken curbs to speak of.

Um, I’m still thinking.

We rarely see a street sweeper in these parts anymore. But generally speaking, the overall appearance of the streets doesn’t reflect it. If we did away with recycling, we’d have a heck of a lot less plastic bottles and what have you blowing about. But that’s never going to happen. Yes, the fallen leaves can get to blocking the storm sewers, but not where the responsible citizens such as myself reside.

I think our garbage and recyclables get picked-up in a timely manner. Then again, I could truly care less as I am not known for praying at the curb’s edge, as were so many of the short-sighted McGroarty supporters.

The discontinued clutter cleanups have been a source of discontent for some, but not for me. Never once did I enjoy having the escapees from the trailer parks picking through the piles of rubbish. And I didn’t enjoy having to avoid them after they were scattered all over the place while cycling to and fro. During one clutter campaign, we put a huge oak desk on the sidewalk that weighed approximately three tons. And no sooner did we have it out there, some Jethro Clampett look-alike comes along and requests that I help him load it into a pickup truck covered in duct tape. You don’t want to know what my response was.

We've got crime, but nothing too, too unspeakable. Nuisance crimes. Vandalism. Domestics. Drunk beats on wife. No biggie.

I ask again, what’s so god awful about the Nord End?

Is that it? Or am I missing something so painfully obvious, I should be flogged at the next council meeting? If this is a neighborhood that has been forgotten, I’ll gladly take it. You see, it ain’t so bad up here.

Sez me.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark: Reading your most recent missive. Glad to see you've written me off and elected Mrs. Kane. Maybe I should move to Nordend? Any neighborhood bar's available for sale up there?


You’re nuts.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Don’t go off.

Man, is Tony Thomas blunt or what?

Limned from my memory is the fact that Kathy Kane was the top vote-getter when last we voted for council types. So it seems to me that she’s a formidable opponent in a smallish voting district, that’s all. With that said, putting all of your legislative accomplishments and suchlike aside, I imagine a long-established bar owner should be pretty popular in that same setting. And assuming that you will be seeking to be reelected, it should prove to be the council race to watch.

Then again, since I happen to reside where I do, I won’t be electing anyone from the Heights. Thanks to the intellectually insular folks at Referendums R Us, four fifths of the city should no longer be of any concern to me. And how completely effing stupid is that? If disingenuous assholes could fly, this place would be a cargo airport.

Bars for sale in the Nord End? You sure got me on that one. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I visited any of my neighborhood’s bars. Why is that?

Stay in touch.

Hillary Clinton, from 2003:

"I ended up voting for the resolution after carefully reviewing the information, intelligence that I had available, talking with people whose opinions I trusted, tried to discount the political or other factors that I didn't believe should be in any way a part of this decision."

Hillary in 2007:

"So he took the authority that I and others gave him and he misused it, and I regret that deeply. And if we had known then what we know now, there never would have been a vote and I never would have voted to give this president that authority."


This is a new one on me. White voters are being disenfranchised by blacks?

Lawsuit accuses black officials of violating whites' voting rights

There’s got to be a way to blame that on Bush.

There’s just got to be.

There‘s politically incorrect. And then there’s this.

Video: German engineering versus Arab technology.

By the way, I must ask…which is it already? The Times Leader says Ron Silkoski is running for city council, but his campaign literature clearly states that Ron Silkosky has thrown his hat into the ring.

When first I received his unexpected campaign flyers, I searched the internet for his name only to find links to old horror movies. And as a result I figured that the screenwriter must be some other guy, not the guy that lives a couple of streets removed from here. But, from what the Times Leader story relates, we have ourselves a sententious celebrity of sorts running for public office. And since serving on council can be a horror show at times, I find that very fitting.

I dunno.