3-5-2007 Stuff

I am not a newspaper guy from way back when. The closest I ever came to working for a newspaper was in the fading days of August Ď71, when my buddy Mike was training me to take over his paper route. In those days in that city, paper routes were not easy to come by, so I actually had to buy this kidís route from him. And every day weíd walk the route together, so I could memorize the homes to be delivered to.

But just as September arrived, the word came from my mom that we were packing up the Datsun station wagon and heading to Wilkes-Barre for the final time. I canít remember if I had already paid for the route at that point, but I guess it donít much matter know.

Anyway, Iím thinking there has to be a right way and a wrong way to fold a newspaper before wrapping it in a rubber band. Iím thinking that if I have to wrestle for control of my newspaper in the morning, something is not quite right in Newspaper Land. Tíainít no big thang, but itís annoying as all hell. And while this is not an overwhelming mandate from the unwashed masses, I want it fixed.

Or maybe I could iron the thing flat in the morning.

I dunno.

Since this letter to the editor did not make it to the Citizensí Voice Web site, I scanned it up here for your amusement.

The incessant plowing complaints do not resonate with me at all, what jumped out at me was the date I underlined: November 16, 2006.

Just to refresh our memories, that was the night when the Mother of all Rainstorms dumped inches upon inches of rain on the area within a few hours. And this is what it was like to pedal home in such a torrential downpour. In a nutshell, it was awesome.

After I settled in at the adobe that night and posted what I did, it came to my attention that we needed some stuff from the nearby Turkey Hill. So I headed on out and chose to take the back way behind Dan Flood School. And when I arrived at Washington Street opposite the N.E. ballyard, there was this car stuck in a raging torrent in the middle of the lowest-lying stretch of the street, with neighbors trying valiantly to assist the stranded motorist. And being the astute assessor of all things important that I am, I smiled and let out with a quick rendition of ďYou jackass!Ē

If theyíve (whoever they are) told us once, theyíve told us one gazillion times: You donít drive your car through any section of any flooded roadway. If a roadway is flooded, you hit the brakes and figure out which detour might be the best for your purposes. Now, our letter writer wants to make us believe that some piled leaves ruined her car, but the fact of the matter is her faulty decision-making ruined her car.

Remember, I was there. I saw that impromptu lake. And Iím positive the fallen leaves played a part in all of that. But, while the cars coming down from Guthrie Hill decided to turn and head for Main Street, this lady decided otherwise. This lady purposely drove her car into that lake. And for having done so, I chuckled at her self-inflicted misfortune.

And if I wouldnít mountain bike through a given raging torrent of water, if crazy ole me chickens out, then what the hell are we thinking driving the import into it?

A new blog? From the fledgling author that canít even transverse the length of this city without needing to be rescued? Whoa, baby! This one ought to be good. Just what the city needs, another blog.

I canít wait.

IĎm hearing some ridiculous statements escaping from the mouths of some of our city council hopefuls. And Iím not sure what to make of them exactly. Either they donít know how this cityís government is structured, or they are just making it up as they are going along.

Wilkes-Barre is a third class, home rule city. The city council possesses the legislative responsibility to approve, or disapprove of all city budgets and tax levels. The city council can enact ordinances, but itís main responsibility is providing oversight over, and checks and balances to the power of the mayor.


The mayor is the chief executive of the city and enforces the ordinances of council. The mayor may veto ordinances which can be overridden by a two thirds majority of council. The mayor supervises the work of all city departments and submits the annual city budget to council.

Got that? In a strong mayoral form of home rule, the mayor basically runs the city, while the council provides proposed legislation and a counterweight to the mayorís power.

So, in effect, the soon-to-be-elected Mayor of Nord End can kick and stomp and scream to get what they want for their district, but if the mayor vociferously disagrees, it isnít going to happen. Maybe it turns into an election year issue, and maybe it doesnít. But letís not kid ourselves by mistakenly thinking any council person is capable of strong-arming the mayor into submission.

A great example of this is the shuttered Heights firehouse. Our current mayor said he was not going to ďthrow good money after bad, ď when the ancient structure was deemed to be in horrendous condition, and not worthy of the vast amounts of money that would be required to rehabilitate it. And when a public outcry swelled up, a few of our council people got all week-kneed and tried to appease the residents making the most noise. But since the mayor is responsible for the bottom line, since the mayor is supposed to balance the cityís budget year-in and year-out and be held accountable for it, the building remains shuttered to this very day.

So, if any of these council hopefuls bang on your front door promising to hire more police officers, more firemen, more DPW guys, or more what have you, tell them they are running for the wrong elected office. Tell them they need to run for mayor if they want to manage the cityís many departments. Better yet, tell them to stick with their day jobs.

Sez me.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

The Allentown Morning Call ran a series of articles about food safety inspections in PA. They ended up creating a database that you can search:

Recipe for Trouble--How safe is your food?

Look the the link "Rest of PA" on the left-hand side, and there you can search by ZIP code. There are some real horror stories there!


Thanks for the link. I spent quite a bit of time scrolling through the ď18702Ē entries and noticed that my neighborhood corner market, Oh Yes, has numerous inspections listed there. But that doesnít make any sense as Wilkes-Barre has itís own inspectors and state inspectors do not inspect inside the city.

So I trekked on over there an asked about those inspections listed on the internet only to be met with blank stares. And I was told by the proprietors that the city inspects their premises, not the state. And I said, ďThatís what I said.Ē A Mystery Shopper sort of thing?

Unless I missed something obvious, Iím not sure what to make of those inspections. Got me.

Oh, Iím getting e-mail requests to spill the beans on the eateries I know to be less than sanitary. First, Iím not going to go there. Secondly, there are more than you might want to believe. Youíll just have to strain those roaches out of your soup.

And thereís a great argument for cooking your own food. Better quality in most cases, fresher and safer.

From the e-mail inbox WESTMORELAND "TOWN"
The "town" of Westmoreland, an expanse of nearly 5,000 square miles, was established by the general assembly of Connecticut in January, 1774 during the struggle between Pennsylvania and Connecticut settlers to control the Wyoming Valley in what is now the Wilkes Barre / Scranton area. Westmoreland Town stretched from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna and was considered to be a municipality of Litchfield County, Connecticut. With the Trenton Decree of 1782, all Connecticut jurisdiction in Pennsylvania was officially nullified, although disputes over land ownership between individuals continued for several more decades.


You sure got me on all of that. Before my time, man. Maybe Kayak Dude can fill in some blanks since he is a river historian extraordinaire.