3-28-2007 D.O.A.

Plenty of people asked me if I planned on attending the big pizza party at Norm’s Pizza last night as council hopeful Tim Anderson and his father-in-law, former city administrator Jim Hayward unveiled their plan to build a new firehouse in the Heights. No, I hadn’t planned on it and, no, I didn’t.

Nothing against the political neophyte from East End. I looked at his site, I heard him on Sue Henry’s show and he seems to be a really bright young guy. Boyish looks, too.

It’s just that I didn’t want to hear how a council hopeful, if elected, planned to steer an inordinate amount of city funding to his voting district at the expense of the others. Now, I already know the likely retort to that one: If another firehouse is built anywhere in the city, we all benefit. While that may be true to some degree from a safety standpoint, it’s not even remotely true from an economic standpoint.

City council candidate’s Heights firehouse plan would impact street paving

Tim Anderson, a candidate for city council in District D, and his father-in-law Jim Hayward, former city administrator and a former firefighter, proposed that a new fire station be built at Coal and North Sherman streets. To financially accomplish this goal, fire headquarters on Ross Street would have to be closed, they said. Community block grant funds could pay for a new firehouse, but that would put off street pavings for about a year, they said.

Close headquarters? Did anyone ever see Towering Inferno? If any structure fire was to receive a slow response, would we want it t be of the high rise variety? If, as the Heights people keep reminding us, a 2 minute disparity in response times is a big deal when a two-story structure gets to smoldering, can we imagine the frightening possibilities when a slower than normal response time involves a structure high enough to induce vertigo?

And what of the $250,000 the city invested in headquarters just two short years ago? We just write that off? Throw it away? Sounds eerily familiar, don’t it? Sounds just like the last administration’s haphazard approach to city finances, doesn’t it? A million wasted here, a million wasted there. Big deal.

As an election gambit, I think it’s a bit disingenuous. The mayor hires firemen, not city council people. The mayor prepares the budget and earmarks what the funds will be spent on. The mayor devises the overall plan, so to speak. So, if the firehouse proposal gets the new guy elected, then what? Will the other 4 council people gush with excitement over his plan and willingly cut their voting district out of the loop whereas future paving projects are concerned? Will yet another councilman be pleased to have the firehouse in his district put on the chopping block? Bold ideas are one thing, implementing them is a whole other obstacle to be cleared. So, label this one “dead on arrival.”

I realize the electorate is infamous for it’s short memory, but I’m not your average voter. And I have to tell you, to have the former city administrator, who presided over the city’s near financial demise, telling me how to better spend future city revenues is an affront to my intelligence. His administration left $10.5 million in unpaid and overdue debts for the next administration to contend with. His administration defaulted on a Tax Anticipation Note (a sure bet in lending circles), which immediately dropped our bond rating into the proverbial toilet, and threatened to make borrowing money prohibitively more expensive. His administration left us with over $1 million per fiscal year coming directly out of the general fund to prop up that ill-advised Call Center misadventure. His administration even missed a payroll.

As municipal financial advisors go, this guy’s credibility is shot. His advice amounts to “Do as I say, not as I did.” To be fair, Tom McGroarty wasn’t very receptive to input from anyone but one of his multiple personalities, but Jim Hayward had his chance and that chance is long gone, but certainly not forgotten. I ask you, if Tom Leighton spent the city into oblivion, would J.J. Murphy be spared part of the blame? Methinks definitely not.

Another clear problem is the envisioned lack of paving for any length of time. The current administration has been aggressively paving major streets, and not the alleys and trails as the last administration was known for doing at election time. Did we forget the former mayor’s “Potwhole Hotline?” Did we? Did we forget his highly-publicized and thoroughly embarrassing promise to repair damaged vehicles in lieu of paving? We’ve still got some problem streets, but those Kabul-like days are also long gone. And with the condition of the streets inarguably better than they have been in years, should we become complacent and put off paving every time somebody is pandering for votes? Methinks effing not.

Close headquarters and dispense with the paving for a while? That’s the best plan the former city honcho and his politically ambitious son-in-law could come up with? To be painfully honest, I’m shocked. Amazed. Confused. Stunned.

Councilwoman Kathy Kane, Thomas and McCarthy recently returned from Washington, D.C., where they learned that the president is proposing to cut community block grant funds.

Christ, I hope not. Like I said, this plan is dead on arrival.

I hope the pizza was good.

Tony Di's Pizza Buffet? A pizza buffet? Well, there must truly be a god, because that sounds like heaven to me.

New restaurant a good sign

WBRE just did a segment about how fast the 200-block of South Main Street is filling up fast with new businesses.

More Development In Downtown Wilkes-Barre Reported by: Jill Konopka

03/28/2007 05:39pm

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY- More businesses are filling up a section of South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre and there may be more to come. For one local businessman, he says he's finally achieved a goal he's had in mind for years.

The “One Day At A Time Club” has packed up and left the 200 block of South Main Street. But, “The Book Concern” has made it's new home here, only a few blocks away from it's original location. The manager says it was a lack of business there that brought their two-hundred thousand books to it’s new spot.

Bettie Mangum is the Manager of the Book Store. She says, “There were other businesses that were supposed to come in and we moved in and no one else moved in, so we were fortunate to have the same landlord that had another building.

"Donn Michael's Salon is another new neighbor in this section of South Main. Owner Donn Mullery says he's living his dream, after his friends at Ro-Kay flowers retired and sold him the building. Donn Mullery told WBRE News "And I've always wanted to be downtown always and ever since the theater moved downtown it's been my goal to get down here as quick as possible.

"Mullery and his stylist opened Tuesday. So far business has been brisk, attracting new and loyal customers to it's contemporary home like atmosphere. Sadieann Deeb is a customer at Donn Michael’s Salon. She added, “I live in Wilkes-Barre, not far from the downtown and it's good to see all this happening.

"Mullery added, "I think it's going to be fantastic for business. With colleges down the Street Bart and Urby's a few blocks on both ends take off and we're in the middle to get all the action."

Not far from there is a new deli, and right on the corner is the future site of the Wilkes Bar and Grill. The owner tells us they plan to open a New York City style bar and lounge with light fare in September. Mike Sommers, "It looks pretty good people are trying, but you got to bring money into town, they bring business they can open up more stores because a lot are still vacant.

"WBRE News did contact Mayor Tom Leighton's office about future development within the 200 block of South Main Street, so far they had nothing to release to us at this time. We also asked whether the city's new street lights would extend beyond South and South Main Streets and we were told there are no immediate plans to do so in the near future.

Today, on WILK’s “Coffee With Corbett,” wherein Steve Corbett crashes Sue Henry’s show with well-worn chants about fledgling revolutions and what have you, he mocked those of us that are feeling optimistic about this city’s chances by referring to us as the “We Believe Brigade.”

Isn’t that special, his fomenting of negativity so as to generate inept calls to his inept appearances on WILK. Isn’t that just special.

We shall see, Steve.

We shall see.

From the e-mail inbox Hello Mark: Sorry not to have RSVP'd some of your blogs of late but a family illness had me tied up 24/7. Now that I've played "catch-up", I'll offer answers. As to my pedophile legislation, yes- I lost it at Council when no one but Bill Barrett backed me up on the fourth attempt to get it passed. You ask if it will work here. It's already working in 36 states (as of today) and hundreds of communities nationwide, including from Scranton to Nanticoke, and its been upheld up to the U. S. Supreme Court. Is it "perfect"? No, but at least its one more bit of protection for our little children, and they desperately need all the protection they can get. A recent news release from the U. S. Attorney's office in Scranton says "Three men from Luzerne County were among 16 regional sexual predators convicted and sentenced in the first six months of Project Safe Childhood". And, of course, there's the three who were just arrested in WB in recent weeks for allegedly molesting little children, and the 44 who reside or work in Wilkes-Barre that are listed on the State Police "Megan's Law" web site as sexual predators, in every section of our City. My job, or "our" job on City Council is to make sure these children are as safe as we can make them, and I'll continue pressing for passage of this kind of law until I leave office in January, at the request of several hundred residents who have signed petitions asking it be passed, as have the teachers and owners of almost every day-care centers and kindergarten's City-wide. I agree with you that these child molesters/predator should be locked up for life, or chemically castrated, but the law won't let us go that far, so we do what we can within the law. As to Walter whatzisname using my comments to get in the newspapers, Ambrose Meletski was one of my closest friends for more than 20 years, and we worked on many projects together, from "Toys for Tots" to Rails-to-Trails programs. Walter couldn't carry Ambrose toothbrush, much less be compared to him. And, yes, as you noted, my son Justin is now running for City Council in our area, District "C", and I'm backing him 1,000 per cent. His compassion and work with children, the Lions Clubs, the Housing Authority, John Morris' Funeral Homes, and other ventures, are the kind of credentials we need on City Council. I know its an up-hill fight for him (no pun intended) but we're in it for the long haul, and I'll do my darndest to see him succeed. Well, catch-up time is over for now...thanks for everything...keep up the good work...and I'll be seeing you soon. Best wishes from...

Jim McCarthy
(Still) Councilman

Man, I don’t know that perversions will ever be on the wane when you consider that I can’t get through one night of television viewing without multiple perversions being either played out in front of me, or crudely being referenced to.

Put on “Spike TV” around 10 pm and tell me what you see? Tits & Asses as commercials on the ‘network for men!’ Seriously, check it out for yourself.

Then there’s “Gay, Straight or Taken.” There’s the workout show that is one long parade of lesbians with a few bench presses thrown in for whatever reason.

I see more boobs bouncing all around in television commercials than I ever hoped to see in person when I was in high school.

I think the only show on television completely devoid of sexual references is “Little House on the Prairie.” And if anyone ever gets to remaking that series, Charles will be doing Mrs. Olsen when Mr. Olsen is off in the woods with the bisexual stagecoach driver. Laura will dabble in lesbianism with the new school mom. Mary will seriously consider bestiality while grooming the nervous horses. Mrs. Ingalls will be home alone thrashing all about with an oddly-shaped zucchini. And Mr. Edwards will be cross dressing when he’s home all alone with his repressed desires.

In other words, we’ll be made to believe it’s more in tune with the times.

And who’s to argue with any of it?