3-20-2007 Super Mario Brothers in Arms

I awoke today to find the following link waiting for me in the e-mail inbox. It’s a link to a letter published in today’s Times Leader that attempts to refute a letter I penned and that was previously published in the same newspaper. Here’s the link to what I had to say.

And here’s the link to today’s weak attempt at a rebuttal:

Qualified candidates’ skills should be welcomed in any role

I have absolutely no problem with Mario’s response. Actually, when I sent that letter of mine along to the Times Leader, I told wifey we should expect some sort of response from either a member of a fringe political party, or some marginal candidate that probably has a much better shot at being hit by lightning a dozen or so times than ever ascending to any political office. Turns out, I was correct on both counts.

I met Mario once upon a time when we were considering a home rule form of government in Luzerne County. He seemed nice enough, albeit, a bit too overzealous and too indignantly self-righteous for my tastes. The way I see it, if getting involved in local politics makes your eyes pop out and, or your blood boil over, maybe you ought to stick to collecting brightly-colored Super Balls. No sense freaking out, or beating the puppies for no good reason.

The thing I do like about his attempted refutation is that in that chosen forum, he had to attach his name to his comments, just as I had and always do. The political back-and-forth on the internet is a hoot and all, but sniping from the comfort of anonymity is a form of electronic “beer muscles,” in that everybody gets to talking tough when they are feeling artificially brave. Or as the following excerpt from another e-mail put it, “If you say it, own it.”

From the e-mail inbox I really don't understand why people post anonymously or use made-up names. It's the equivalent of writing graffiti or wearing a ski mask. Beale's Bites and other job-related boards, I can see; but even there, many of the people are either wannabees or not in the business. If you say it, own it.

Therein lies the biggest problem with political punditry on the internet: Ain’t much ownership going on.

Getting back to Mario’s letter, if he was trying to refute the points I made in my earlier letter, he failed miserably. One thing I would have to take immediate issue with is the suggestion that all candidates for elected office are either “qualified” or have “skills.”

Mario, you as a candidate do not make those sorts of distinctions, we, the voters do. You, or any other candidate are only as qualified or skilled as we perceive you to be. And while that may not seem fair for the people who are qualified and are skilled but can’t win an election, maybe they are seriously lacking in some other category. But rather than do any soul-searching, they typically get to ranting against a system that is unfair, or a mythical “Good ole boy network” that conspires against heroes such as themselves. If a candidate runs in every election and loses at every turn, maybe they’d be better served by directing their boundless energies elsewhere. Maybe they should learn how to take a hint.

As for your party of choice, the Green Party, it lacks legitimacy simply because of it’s stated positions on the issues, and because it’s ranks are predominantly comprised of people who have purposely put themselves on life’s periphery and then devoted themselves to tearing down that self-inflicted boundary. It’s akin to a kitten chasing it’s catnip-dipped tail.

Fearful, I registered as a Democrat to compete in the May primary for Luzerne County Commissioner. Then the big winter storm hit us, just as the three-week primary nomination period started. Not able to overcome such bleak weather conditions, I chose not to run.

Instead, I am running for Sugar Notch Mayor again. But I have also developed issues over the years for the Hanover Area School District. Some of them were reported in the local papers.

So I have also submitted petitions to put me on the primary ballot for school director. If I win both elections, I will have to choose one. As a low-income resident, I will rely on the letters to the editor I have written over the years to inform the public that I am a qualified candidate for those positions. (I also have a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University.)

Mr. Cour goes on to say those who are circulating petitions for council and mayor are making “spectacles of themselves and the electoral process.” He says “that a serious candidate would know what office they aspire to, before they pick up nomination petitions.”

Goll danged right I did!

Sorry, Mario, but if you can’t see the folly that is seeking numerous elected offices simultaneously, not a one of us folks who can pass a drug test will ever be able to explain it to you.

One of my responsibilities as the general manager of a restaurant was to always be on the lookout for people at the bottom tiers of the ladder than wanted to climb the ladder. And what I looked for was people with a fire in their belly, a passion if you will. If some gangly 16-year-old with potential told me in no uncertain terms that he would one day be the kitchen manager, I would take notice of that. But if he told me that he would one day be the kitchen manager, but would settle for any old position in management, I would then question his commitment, as well as underlying motivation. Does he really want to be a leader of men, or does he simply think he wants to? Is he suffering from delusions of grandeur? Or worse yet, does he see climbing that ladder as the quickest way to gain a hefty raise, with all other considerations given little or no thought?

Consider the coming primary election. How am I supposed to take seriously a candidate who aspires to be the Mayor of Sugar Notch, a Luzerne County Commissioner, and a Hanover area School Board Director? Is there an office you forgot? Pick one already. Sorry, but running for “all of the above” does not make for a viable candidacy.

What’s your biggest priority? Saving your municipality, saving the school district, or saving the entire county? Your lack of focus and determination is a red flag to the voters that you’ll take whatever office you can, and then figure it all out afterwards.

As for Sugar Notch, we’re talking about a borough that would fit neatly on the head of a pin, and operates on a budget smaller than that of a Twin Kiss ice cream stand. If it needs new spark plugs for it’s one police cruiser, this represents a financial crisis.

You Green Party folks love to call yourselves progressives, yet you offer very little in the way forward-thinking progressive thought. The only responsible platform any mayoral hopeful in that dying place should have is promising to consolidate the borough into it’s much larger neighboring community only to be forever known as the Sugar Notch section of Hanover Township. Personally, I think the only thing wrong with Sugar Notch is that it’s still above sea level.

As for Carl Romanelli’s problems, if his petition signatures were completely bulletproof as they should have been, he would have been on the ballot and he would have finished a distant, distant third. But, without the necessary statewide support network having been put in place, he left himself vulnerable and is paying the price.

Mr. Cour says, “Why should anyone have unfettered access to the ballot?”

I believe in democracy, not just the two-party systems. And to put my money where my mouth is, I am bestowing the 2007 Free Speech Award to Tim Grier at my Eighth Annual State of the World Forum.

He is running for both Wilkes-Barre Mayor and City Council. I think that his qualities and abilities make him a real candidate for whatever office he seeks.

Wow, the “Eighth Annual State of the World Forum” already? How the time flies when you’re twiddling your thumbs in the back yard. Yeah, kumbahya! What’s the latest? 18 folding chairs, a charcoal grill, a couple of acoustic guitars, roach clips and ponytails all around? This is where the “reformers” on the periphery get together once a year, hold hands, think pure thoughts and smoke something or other.

As for Mr. Grier, he gets a tinfoil hat award for name-calling? You’re recognizing him for his slanderous and libelous entry into local politics. Why, just yesterday he called our district attorney a “bozo” on the internet. If insults were currency, he’d have himself a record-setting campaign war chest. But luckily, the great preponderance of the voters can see him for the clueless charlatan that he is. And here you are, our perennial candidate, trying to legitimize his ill-conceived, ill-fated and ill-received antics. Go figure. Birds of a feather flock together.

And as for your misbelieving that he possesses “qualities and abilities make him a real candidate for whatever office he seeks,” I’d love to see his threadbare resume listed for all to chuckle at and turn away from. Your award-winning candidate brings even less to the table than employees I’ve fired over the years. And one thing I learned in the private sector was that talking the talk doesn’t necessarily mean you know what you’re talking about at all.

As to the original point of my letter to the editor, that turning local elections into free-for-alls is inherently counterproductive, you fringe candidates keep making my point for me. While you continue for run for this, that and every political office, the voters see you as less than serious candidates, and the election night tallies prove as much.

My granddaughter is scheduled to blow out 4 birthday candles later today, so let’s wrap this up.

You folks on life’s periphery can continue to pat each other on the back, you can give each other tinfoil-styled awards, you can continue to impress your fellow revolutionaries lurking on the internet, you can smoke your agricultural products and strum your acoustic guitars to your little green heart’s content. And while you’re making all of that white noise you mistakenly believe to be so crucially important, we’ll be electing tomorrows leaders. We’ll be deciding which of the viable candidates deserve our votes.

And as for yourselves watching so intently from the political perimeter, well, there’s always next time. Because, as we all know, the Super Mario Brothers in Arms will not be denied.

Or will they?

Peace, brother