2-11-2007 “I’ve had a vision of the city...”

Since I managed to annoy a friend by using his picture in cyberspace, I have made a correction by deleting it.

Dude, I didn't think that would bother you, being that you were not identified in any way. But, being that it did, I deleted the thingie with one massive keystroke. Done. Now dry up some avocado peels, some banana peels and we’ll smoke a hollowed-out potato of a peace pipe. And if the cops suddenly appear out of virtually nowhere, you’re eating the freaking potato, not me.

Sorry to hear about the passing of your uncle. Personally, the thing I dislike the most about growing older is not having to contemplate my own mortality...it's losing the people that meant the world to me even though that fact was completely lost on me at the time, the people that guided me against my will, the people who berated me into a form of submission that a society could tolerate, the people that unconditionally loved me and the people that generally helped to misshape me. While the people closest to us may pass on, the fondest of our memories of them never do. Cling to those fond memories and the ache becomes somewhat tolerable.

Buck up.

I showed up for the big announcement at the Ramada yesterday afternoon. And, no, despite the constant rumors, we’re not getting that spaceport built in the downtown. Darn it!

From the Times Leader:

Citing successes, Leighton seeks 4 more years

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Leighton says he will seek another term

I was there when then-Councilman Leighton announced his intention to challenge our former mayor for his job And it was…well, it was a lot different. It was exciting. It was much-needed. It was vital that Wilkes-Barre’s future be reclaimed by the adults.

That was the first time I ever bothered to attend a political function of any sort, and I think it showed. I found myself in this overcrowded ballroom surrounded by the Who’s Who types wearing their best suits and their prettiest dresses. And there I was in jeans and a ball cap. Oops!

Yesterday I was out and about, and arrived at the adobe just as my neighbor was fixing to leave for the big gathering. And since we were riding together, I had absolutely no time in which to even consider a sudden wardrobe change. So as we were walking towards the Ramada and I encountered the surge of people looking all gussied up, it then dawned on me that I was wearing ripped jeans, that same ball cap (loyal, ain’t I?) and, of all things…a frickin’ tank top. I zipped my coat up just short of my neck and headed into the bar. Oops!

I mean no disrespect. It’s just that my wardrobe means about as much to me as global warming does: It doesn’t.

Anyway, yesterday felt different. No longer did it feel like an upstart, but critically important movement to save the city. There were no “Hose Dudes for Leighton” pictures. There were no city employees in attendance that were playing both sides of the political fence for future job security. There were no hordes of dispirited residents as there had been four short years before. Instead, there was a feeling of consensus in the ballroom on this day. There was a feeling that with the city on a clear comeback from the absolute depths of disparity, now we needed to continue what we started some four years ago. Now we needed to re-elect the man that laid the foundations for what looks like a very bright future, the man who made possible the healing of our collective psyche.

And despite what the oft-hyperventilating “activists” will tell you, Tom Leighton’s list of achievements as mayor is a very, very long one. He does not wear a cape on most days, and Kryptonite cannot hurt him. What he does is build coalitions that can and have helped the city to reinvent itself. Yes, he has restored financial stability. Yes, he has paved miles of streets, replaced catch basins at a dizzying pace and, yes, he has hired a trainload of new cops. With that typed, I think he has been underestimated as far as selling the city is concerned. He is our lead salesman, and he has been relentlessly trying to sell people on the idea that investing in Wilkes-Barre will prove to be a solid investment that will produce many returns. And if you spend any time at all around the man, you quickly realize that his unbridled optimism is surprisingly infectious.

He’s tireless, but too often frustrated by unwarranted negativity. He works way too many hours, and I have personally told him as much. But, no matter what, he is forever pitching the merits of this city to whomever will listen to him. Reminds me of something that was once written about myself.

His comments on prominent figures and their public doings are often sarcastic, but his fundamental love for his city and it's people is apparent.--The Crown, Kings College Student Newspaper, June 19, 2002

He‘s not Superman. He’s not a one-man-show. He‘s certainly not perfect. He gets frustrated, sometimes even outwardly angry. Hell, he wears goofy-looking caps. But his fundamental love for his city and it's people is apparent.

Let’s finish what we started four short years ago by reelecting Tom Leighton. It may not feel like an exhilarating revolution this time around, but it’s still vitally important.

Sez me.

The Times Leader published a piece today about some of our council hopefuls and incumbents.

They are encapsulated, but decent rundowns on Walter Griffith, Kathy Kane and Shirley Vitasupernova. Okay, hold on…I’ll find the correct spelling already. Here we go, it’s Shirley Vitanovec. No need getting myself egged when I next pedal my way through that distant voting district.

All better now?

Election 2007

Walter Griffith, a Republican, is seeking his party’s nomination for Wilkes-Barre City Council. Griffith says his top priorities would be addressing the pension plan, pay increases for city officials and reducing spending and taxes. He also proposes televising council meetings and a ballot referendum that would mandate minority representation on council.

More effing referendums from the self-appointed president of Referendums R Us? More referendums? And mandated minority representation on council? What’s that bilge? The local Republican party is the first consideration, and the needs of the city place a distant second?

And explain to me how that would work? Suppose the top 5 vote-getters on election day are all dastardly Democrats. Which winning Democrat gets told he’s bumped in favor of the Republican that couldn’t win in his own district, but was the top vote-getter among Republicans citywide? Sorry champ, while you may have won your district outright, you were the low vote-getter amongst the Democrats, so you lose? That’s utter self-serving political filth.

More effing shortsighted referendums? Yeah, just what this city needs.

Think people. I swear to friggin’ Allah, it does not hurt.

What the e-mail inbox is proving to me is that there is a lot of confusion about these newfangled voting districts the Republicans in activist clothing so desperately wanted.

Oh, and for the dummies out there, I am not a partisan Democrat, so get with the facts, dummies. I had been a registered Republican in this county until I felt the need to vote in the Democrat primary race in 2003. I switched my party affiliation for one reason and one reason alone: To be able to vote against our former mayor. And since attractive Republican candidates appear in this city about as often as volcanoes erupt in Parsons Manor, it didn’t make much sense to switch it back.

I care not what letter might appear before a candidate’s name. You stand corrected.


That minuscule slide contains a picture of the city’s 5 voting districts, as well as a blown-up map of the Nord End’s 3 voting wards. If you put your curser over either of the pictures, they will stop sliding for closer inspection.

Basically, to know who you can or cannot vote for, you need to know the addresses of the candidates. So, if you reside in South Wilkes-Barre and the absolute best councilman in the history of the city lives in the Nord End, you cannot vote for them. Great effing system, isn’t it? Conversely, if out of your district arises, say, 6 new candidates and all of them are very recent parolees, you are then forced to vote for your incumbent councilman, even though he is clearly the biggest reject to ever get elected to anything anywhere. You might not be able to vote for the best candidates, and you might be forced to vote for the downtrodden best of the absolute worst. Great effing system, isn’t it?

Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote in favor of this abject idiocy designed to bolster the elected ranks of the one inept political party that couldn’t get it’s candidates elected if it actually tried to.

And since we’re now voting by districts and I need not concern myself about the viable candidates from those “other” districts, we will examine the soon-to-be electoral goings-on in the Nord End and the Nord End alone.

Look at the blown-up picture of the Nord End district, District E, and you’ll see that our district is comprised of three wards. Ward 1 is basically the Miners Mills section with a tiny snippet of Parsons thrown in so as to have some balance between the numbers of voters in either district. Ward 5 is my neighborhood, stretching from the Cross Valley to North Street and divided from the western end at North Main Street. And Ward 6 is the section of Nord End closest to the downtown and the river.

Still confused? Don’t sweat it, practically everybody else is, too.

Ward 1 will vote at the Hollenbach Golf Course shanty.

Ward 5 will vote at Dan Flood elementary.

And Ward 6 will vote at Permen Mortgage.

But, even though we might reside in different wards, we are all in voting District E. And this, too, is a bit screwy.

Assuming that you very enthusiastic about one particular candidate and cannot wait to vote for them in your tiny, supposedly very localized neighborhood district, you’d have to expect to meet them at the polls giving out cards and glad-handing with all of those in possession of a single hand. Well, not necessarily.

If candidate Jones from Wyoming Street is immensely, wildly popular in his neck of the woods but completely unheard of in Miners Mills, where would we expect to see him on election day? Um, trying to prop up support where he’s little known? Or does he just write off that other ward and slap high-fives all day long at the local voting haunt where he is undoubtedly “the man?”

Will mindless and ill-advised territoriality play into any of this?

Charlotte Raup? Nah, she’s from Parsons. I want a councilman from Nord End proper.

Virgil Argenta? Where does he live at? Ah, down there by Kings College. Well, that’s good and all, but I want a councilman from right here in good ole Miners Mills.

John Yencha? Isn‘t he from Brookside? Oh, no way! Those ruthless pricks from Brookside used to pick on me to no end after they found out my passion in life was the school choir. I‘m thinking Merritt or Silkosky.

I hope that helps, but I kind of doubt that it does. Because, when it comes to electing city council folk, we have taken a major, confusing step backwards. And why? Because the unelectable folks at Referendums R Us wanted and needed it that way.

And assuming that you can figure out who it is that you are allowed to vote for, vote early and often. This way, the perennial losers can cry foul just as they always do.

It’s sad to say, but the inmates have reinvented the asylum for the purposes of running it.