4-21-2007 What if?

Kayak Dude made an appearance on WILK’s Sue Henry Show yesterday. I wanted to call in support of his upcoming protest against the highly debatable dam, but I was lying prone in a darkened crawl space and trying not to injure myself while hammer-drilling through a slab. And once I get that enormous drill to spinning, I will stop for nothing until the slab looks like Swiss cheese.

KD’s arguments against damming the Susquehanna were presented very well and were very difficult to take issue with. After his appearance, 5 or 6 callers of varying degrees of know-how about dams and the like called to say they were against damming the river. So did the host. I kept waiting to hear from a dam supporter, but then again, the debatable dam has about as many supporters as ovarian cancer does.

You know it’s biggest supporter, Paul Kanjorski, would not call in, because he does not expose himself to those petulant, ignorant voters who stupidly dare to question his divine guidance whereas the fate of free-flowing rivers are concerned. The entire world over, dams are being removed so that troubled waters everywhere can cleanse and regenerate themselves. But not here.

No, here we’re being told to conserve, to plant a tree, to embrace mass transit, to save the planet, to do without, to be one with nature, but to load up on fuel for the motorized boats. Yep, to cleanse our river, we need to dam it, race from one end to the other on motor-driven crafts, and then we can clamor for some federal funding to remove the oily residue that is sure to follow. Forget the silly kayaks and the exercise and the solitude and the circumspection they can provide you with.

We want the throttle in our hands, baby! We want the power, the thrill ride. We want to drink beer all day on the river, and if those silly kayaks get in our way…well, that’s why we have rescue crafts, right? Eagles nesting close by? Forget that! We’re going to get the nose of this boat raised right out of the water and go like hell. History? Ecology? You’re joshing me, yes? Grab me another Miller Lite and relax, will you?

Silly, silly kayakers.

Which dovetails into this:

Funding for creek project passes House

“Cleaning up the Susquehanna River has been a top priority,” Carney said in a news release. “Congressman Kanjorski has been an effective partner, both in protecting the Susquehanna River and moving this bill through Congress.”

I really hate to break it to Congressman Johnny C. Lately, but Mr. Kanjorski has said all along that we need to dam the river. We’re told the dam will cure all of our economic development ills, as well as turn Wilkes-Barre’s shoreline into a tourist Mecca. The dam is the answer. The dam should not be denied, it should be our top priority; especially in this era of eminent domain run amok. (Hint, hint) And then we’ll see about cleaning the river at some later date. Later.

But now that the dam is in serious trouble, oh, now the story has abruptly changed. Now, cleaning the river and building the dam go hand-in-hand. Now, it’s one now longer one under-funded project and some future un-funded project. Now it’s dam it, clean it and all is wonderful. I think they call it political damage control.

Now, go back to Dung Township and promise the struggling farmers some more pork!

“The addition of Solomon Creek to the larger Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project is a major triumph for the City of Wilkes-Barre. The flooding of the Solomon Creek Basin is a very serious issue that has ravaged homes and businesses in the South Wilkes-Barre area over the past 50 years,” Kanjorski said in a news release.

The Army Corps initially determined that a flood-control project at Solomon Creek was not economically justified as an independent project. But the Corps later determined Solomon Creek was hydrologically linked to the watershed protected by the Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project, which justifies its inclusion in that ongoing project.

What’s this? Take one step forward, and then take two steps back and try not to drown?

We’re going to slice south Wilkes-Barre in two by erecting levees, but up the hill a ways, there’s a new Price Chopper in the works which will amount to a financial bonanza for some local paving outfit. We’re fighting the flooding on the lower end, and simultaneously adding to it on the upper end with still more improper land management. We’ll pave the mountain and erect flood walls in the valley? And after a few years and lots more paving on the mountain, then they’ll tell us we need to seriously heighten the dikes running through the city. This is as short-sighted as it is can get.

“While this project is important for the federal government, city council and myself, it’s even more vital for the residents of the Solomon Creek neighborhood,” Leighton said. “They are the ones who have suffered through these disasters and been forced to clean up or rebuild time and time again. All along we’ve asked for their patience because something like this takes time. I hope this shows their homes have always been one of our top priorities.”

City Councilwoman Shirley Morio Vitanovec, who lives on South Franklin Street, is pleased the House passed the bill to move the city a step closer to starting the $50 million flood control project.

“This is a major, major step forward for the residents in this area,” Vitanovec said. “They have waited a long time, and they have been very patient and have gone through many floods. I am thrilled for the residents in this area that this was passed by (the House).”

If I happened to reside on Regent Street, I too would probably be thrilled. But, with that said, until we stop growing patches upon patches of high elevation asphalt and start getting serious about Growing Greener by paying stricter attention to land use issues, we’re still only one good thunderstorm away from filling sandbags.

Well, you are.

When cops shoot, it’s because they feel they have no other option available to them. When cops shoot, it’s because their lives and, or our lives are at risk. And when cops shoot, it makes for lively talk radio as the Monday Morning Quarterbacks rush to examine exactly how the cop erred, and how he could and should better conduct himself in the future.

Cop: Killing of pit bull justified

WILKES-BARRE – A police officer was forced to shoot and kill a pit bull when the dog charged at him on North Main Street Friday morning, Lt. Steve Olshefski said.

Officer Alan Gribble shot the dog multiple times in the driveway at 351 N. Main St. at about 8:30 a.m.

A school crossing guard at North Main and Butler streets called police that a pit bull and a Rottweiler were roaming the neighborhood chasing people.

And there you have it. The officer involved claims the shooting was justified. So do his superiors. But all that the local talk jock has to do is open a microphone and wonder aloud about whether the firing of multiple shots was overkill. You know the predictable invite to the unwashed masses to trash the police, “I support the police but, what if…”

“(Gribble) tried to be friendly with the dog. He opened the back door and was saying, ‘Come on, boy, come on, boy,’” Virgil Argenta said. “The dog charged at him. When he fired the gun, I ducked because of the chance of a stray bullet.”

Argenta, who witnessed the shooting from inside his North Main Street home, said the dog was chasing people on the busy street with students walking to King’s College or Dan Flood Elementary School.

“(Gribble) shot the dog once, but it looked like the dog got madder. It continued to charge at him. There wasn’t anything he could do,” Argenta said.

Then along comes Virgil with some eye-witness testimony that blows the budding policing controversy right out of the water. Gee, thanks Virgil. Now, what the heck are Nancy and Chia Kev going to rail against come Monday Morning? George Bush again? How can they now second-guess this incident to the point of absurdity while telling us over and over that they support the police? Thanks a lot, Virgil.

What if a stray bullet knocked down that pair of sneakers strung over the electric lines, the sneakers fell and startled an oncoming driver? And what if that startled driver then crashed into the back of a rental truck stopped at the traffic light sending it careening out of control down the length of Butler Street and striking a group of peaceful Greens gleefully hugging a tree and having a toke?

What if, man?

What if a ricochet ruptured a nearby 2-liter of Diet Coke and it crashed right through the side of a delivery truck stuffed full of Menthos? Wouldn’t the city get sued for everything it’s worth after the delivery truck was launched skyward when the Menthos and Diet Coke mixed and erupted, resulting in the knock-down of a small plane flying overhead? And what if that small plane crashed right into the pediatric unit at General Hospital and turned 37 children into glistening pieces of charcoal?

What if?

What if the dimwitted citizenry stopped trying to criminalize the only people standing between them and the criminals?

What if the cop hesitates (as he is trained to) and the dog uses him like a new chew toy?

What if I had a dime for every time a cop waited too long to shoot, resulting in injury or far worse to himself?

And what if I rounded up all of those dimes and went and bought me a new Corvette?

When cops shoot, they typically do so after being given a nanosecond or two to make a decision while looking danger right in the eye.

What if we gave them the respect and the thanks they deserve?

What if?

Predictably, I’m getting reports of political yard signs turning up missing all over this voting district. And, of course, plenty of speculation as to who may be taking to random acts of signnapping accompany said reports. Let’s cover this real brief like.

If the calendar says you are supposed to be an adult, and if you feel compelled to muck about with political signage in the middle of the night…you are a sped.


At the national level, I vote Republican. Now, I know the other side has managed to demonize Republicans at this time, but that’ll fade just as soon as the other side is in power long enough. Whatever. No sense arguing about all of that.

Senator Barack Obama is currently being portrayed as the best thing since peanut butter and chocolate were first packaged together in the same candy wrapper. When he speaks in front of any assembled crowd, superlatives rain down like so much sugar-coated confetti. As far as I’m concerned, slick orators are not necessarily good leaders, and WWII taught us a painful lesson about slick orators.

Anywho, we all know what Imus said, and we all know what happened as a result of what he said. What I’m wondering is, would you folks who call yourselves staunch Democrats really vote for a guy who referred to Imus’ comments as “verbal violence?”

Verbal violence?

Is that not wishy-washy twaddle, to put forth the ridiculous notion that spoken words can be equated with perpetrating violence? Words should be criminalized?

It’s sad enough that we have the Thought Police hovering nearby in black helicopters. But now we’re going to have to contend with the newly deputized Word Police, a division of the Democratic National Committee? This is utter sophistry, and certainly not worthy of a vote.

If what Imus said is violence, what of the guy who says chicks can’t drive, or blonde chicks are dumb like so many rocks? What becomes of you if you happen to be honest about one of your many prejudices during an unguarded moment? Whether we want to admit it or not, everybody has some prejudices coloring their judgment of the world swirling around them. Is it a crime to be brutally honest? Should we just go on pretending that nothing and no one has ever disturbed us in any way?

And what of the inherent double standards, wherein the true racists accuse every other group of being the true racists? Wherein the real sexists call the folks with the other plumbing the real sexists? We know the deal, but we choose to pretend that we’re not annoyed by it all.

They ask us, “Can’t we all get along? while knowing full well that we can’t, but demand that we do. It’s so much bullspit, it’s suffocating.

Since man first dropped the fins in favor of longish appendages, we’ve been split into tribes. That’s the way it was, the way it is and the way it always will be. Isn’t it enough that we’re not warring tribes?

I dunno. It’s just that I’m growing tired of the constant tumult. A talk jock said something clearly over the line, lost his soapbox and let’s leave it at that.

As for me, call me whatever you like. I seek no victim status, I lost that weighty chip that used to grow out of my shoulder and I could really care less what anyone thinks of me. I am the model which needs to be copied.

Sez me.

Time for a lengthy bikeabout this city. Zach and Jeremy slept over, and Jeremy is about to set out on his first ever bicycling adventure. And at 16-months old, he’ll be the youngest grandkid of mine to have ever joined me out there on the streets. In addition to that, tomorrow he’ll be my first grandkid to ever take part in a protest. It feels so 60s-ish.



Jeremy's trial run