4-29-2007 Stuff

Is anyone else growing weary of this 3-year long Pat Tillman investigation, a friendly-fire incident being replayed to the max for political purposes? Is it really a shock to the system to learn that immediately after one soldier accidentally kills his fellow soldier, the entire chain of command is reluctant to admit to it?

There are friendly-fire deaths involved in any prolonged military operation, and history is my proof.

Since the upcoming election is being touted as an historic election, I figured I’d snag a picture of the campaign signs and such of all 28 political hopefuls and turn them into a slideshow. Not exactly exciting video does it make, but as it plods along, it does demonstrate that this is not your average election season. Whatever.

As I make my way through the city’s five newfangled voting districts, I keep my four eyes open for one that has alluded me so far. A Troy here, and a Matello there. A Reilly today, maybe a Griffith tomorrow. That sort of thing. As I run across them, I will add them to the slideshow.

Here’s the confusing aspect of all of this needless tomfoolery. Since I was deep in District A the other day, I was looking for three signs in particular: a Maday, a Grier and a Griffith. It was easy to find a Vitanovec and a Cronauer sign, since they seem to be popping up faster than those dreaded dandelions. I happened upon a Maday sign, but I ended up talking at length to a passerby, then wandered away while forgetting to snap a picture of it. The thing is, I wandered from Academy Street to Willow Street and back, but could not locate a Griffith, or a Grier campaign yard sign. Not a one.

Well, that is to say, I did spot a Griffith sign on the candidates own front lawn, but I decided against taking a picture of it, since he gets to accusing people of being stalkers so frightfully easy. Yeah, he’s real big on reciting criminal codes and suchlike if and when you get anywhere near his property. In my mind, he’s too thin-skinned to be throwing political Molotov cocktails at everyone else.

And then there’s those invisible Grier signs. I’m assuming he’s got one neatly displayed on his parent’s property, but, since this guy is also of an accusatory mindset, you’re smart to stay far away from that modest abode. So far, he’s accused unknown assailants of making death threats, of conducting BB gun attacks and beer bottle assaults on the property, so you’re likewise smart to not a steer a path anywhere near that place. And stalkers on bicycles are a growing problem in this city. (?)

Anywho, if anyone can direct me to one of these illusive signs, I’d appreciate it. The way it looks, it’d probably be easier to find O.J. Simpson rookie cards laying around District A than one of those heretofore unseen signs. But remember, with these two candidates, you have to stay at least 5,000 yards away from them or you’re a felon.

I tried.

This one caught my eye.

From the Times Leader:

Grabbing some air

The closest skatepark, other than the Wyoming Valley Sports Dome’s seasonal skatepark, is in Bloomsburg – a 100-mile roundtrip. Skate 57 in Hackettstown, N.J., is the nearest year-round indoor park. With tolls and high gas prices, the cost for a trip adds up quickly.

But it’s a cost diehard enthusiasts of alternative sports are willing to pay though they cling to hope that more Luzerne County communities will follow Nanticoke’s lead and dedicate recreational land to a skatepark.

Now, I realize that a skate board ramp does not a skatepark make, but we do have a destination for these folks right in the heart of the downtown. Yep, directly behind 147 S. Washington Street lies this wooden monstrosity that attracts youngish bicycle riders, as well as skateboarders. Don’t ask me what it’s doing there, or how it came to be there, but it is there and it is already generating noise complaints from the neighbors.

I could be mistaken, but I’m thinking this thing required some sort of permit before being constructed. The sucker is pretty big.

And plenty noisy.

This really is good news for the residents of south Wilkes-Barre. It really is.

Solomon Creek project gets green light

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski announced that the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act that includes Solomon Creek in the Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project.

Upon enactment into law, this provision would permit the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a project that would protect more than 300 homes and businesses from the flooding of Solomon Creek. Solomon Creek has overtopped its banks and caused flooding damages three times since 2004, most recently in November 2006.

With that said, there’s still numerous plans afoot to clear-cut more forest and pave more acreage on that big hill up above us, so I’m wondering what the net gain will be. While they continue to pave, we continue to flood. And while we plan to enhance flood walls, they plan more paving projects.

Sound like a plan?

This is utter hogwash.

From today’s Times Leader:

W-B Dem endorsement went to candidate who deserved it

As a member of the Wilkes-Barre Democratic Executive Committee, I would like to comment on writer Ron Lieback’s April 11 article about the committee’s endorsement for District E of Wilkes-Barre City Council.

One of the executive committee’s responsibilities is to help Democrats select the Democrat they feel is the best suited candidate for their prospective elected seats. I sat and listened to all of the candidates pitch for the party’s endorsement. First was Ron Silkosky, which in three sentences asked that there be an open primary and the committee not endorse any candidate for District E. That was it; end of pitch.

Second was Charlotte Raup. She told us about her involvement with Wilkes-Barre’s Crime Watch. Yet she said nothing about her plans, if elected, as a council member. She, too, was very short-winded and asked for an open primary.

Next was Virgil Argenta. He told the committee about his accomplishments as a businessman and landowner in our city. Yes, Mr. Argenta respectfully requested the nomination but also asked to leave the primary open. Now to me, that’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

The fourth candidate was Mike Merritt. He spoke about his roots in Wilkes-Barre and proceeded to tell us his hopes and aspirations as a council member and District E representative. Mr. Merritt asked to be selected for nomination as the endorsed candidate. As Mr. Merritt walked out of the meeting room I felt if it was a no-brainer that he should get the party’s endorsement.

Reading in your article, I understand Mike Merritt may be a relative of Chairman William “Bill” Brace. Chairman Brace told me nor anyone else of such a relationship. Mr. Merritt won the party’s endorsement not by being a relative, but on Mr. Merritt’s own merit.

Mike Belusko Wilkes-Barre Democratic executive committee member Wilkes-Barre

I knew all about this meeting before it even took place, and I am here to tell you his arguments are poppycock. The reason those candidates requested an open primary was because they knew full well that the endorsement was a done deal, that the fix was in. They knew the deal beforehand, and also knew that no matter what they said or what they did, they were not going to get anything but a precursory glance and a nod. Here’s a lollipop and a coloring book, now go home.

One of the executive committee’s responsibilities is to help Democrats select the Democrat they feel is the best suited candidate for their prospective elected seats.

That’s barely-veiled code for, to tell the faithful party myrmidons who they will vote for.

A neighbor of mine, one of those faithful Dems, was leaning heavily towards one candidate, but as soon as the preordained endorsement was made public, she abruptly switched gears and put the Merritt sign on the front lawn. This isn’t about picking “the best suited candidate,” as much as it is the party trying to manipulate the results of the election.

And what this guy is telling me is that he would endorse someone after only a short presentation, and without doing any serious homework of his own. Again, that’s hogwash. Please refrain from insulting my intelligence ever again.

And what of the endorsed candidate? He was going door-to-door on my street a few days ago, but I was at Oh Yes grabbing a few groceries. But I did return while he was but a few yards away, and I made sure he knew I had returned. I left the front door open hoping he’d come and talk to a voter that pays more than scant attention to the issues and the people hoping to shape them. I dared him to come and convince me that I needed to lose that Raup sign so neatly displayed out front.

And did he take the bait? Hell no!!! He talked to everyone who would have him, but not the one political animal on the street. No captive audience here, no I live here, work here and play here and VOILA!…you’ve got the nod, kiddo! No, this crowd here can be a tough crowd, so it’s a crowd that should be avoided. Sadly, that’s about what I expected. Even worse, that’s about what I get during every election cycle. I have yet to sit on my front porch and talk to a single candidate.

They tell you to get involved. They tell you to pay strict attention. And they tell you to vote. But, all they really want is for you to blindly follow the lead of the power brokers.

If I was a good little Democrat, I’d have a different yard sign out front. If I was a good little Democrat, I’d do what I was told. If I was a good little Democrat, I’d have to shave sans the mirror.


I have understood the obvious need to comply with the budgetary restraints as they currently are, and once may have been. And I wholeheartedly agreed with the decision to avoid deficit spending like the plague. One casualty of financial responsibility has been the decimation of the DPW ranks. I read in one of the newspapers that the current DPW force is exactly half what it was just ten years ago, dropping from 80 employees to a threadbare 40. Still, political hopefuls clamor for the return of the popular clutter cleanups. How irresponsible is that?

Still, despite the ongoing need to keep the city’s belt tight, the following news is overdue:

Wilkes-Barre sets new street cleaning schedule

The way I see it, you can only skimp in this area so long. We did skimp on it for a while, and probably saved a ton of payroll dollars in the process. But, it’s time. Some sections of the city just need to have those street sweepers out there and that’s that. Some areas are long overdue.

And people have been complaining about a lack of street sweeping for some time now. So, now that they’re going to be out in force, many of those same complainers will now complain about having to move their cars for the street sweeping to even take place. Knuckleheads, I call them.

As for my tiny street, no street sweepers will be necessary.

We police our own.

Practically every candidate running for a council seat is calling for more attention being paid to the neighborhoods. I imagine some of them have realistic goals, but still others make it sound as if they can and will deliver capital projects to their districts. That’s easier said than done with 5 different districts with varying needs and varying degrees of difficulty.

Some say we need an increased police presence, but I fail to see how they can improve upon the hiring of 21 new police officers in four short years, plus the much-needed addition of the K-9 corps. That is to say, it’s not as if the current administration has been blind to the crime that has infiltrated our neighborhoods. In this area, I think all that could be done has been done.

Anyway, no matter who ends up being the first ever Mayor of Nord End, I’m not expecting them to deliver millions in capital spending every year, nor am I expecting them to have my street patrolled at the top and bottom of every hour. I am reasonable in my expectations, but the “quality of life” issues do resonate with me, and very brightly.

The Nord End is generally peaceful, but it is home to 2 Turkey Hills, so we do have the expected robberies and such. When I head out and about, I do not fear for my safety. Well, except for those 2 loose Rotweillers down on the corner, I feel safe in my neighborhood. But here’s a list of quality of life things that do plague my little corner of the city.

When I sit on the front porch just wanting to kick back and relax, I shouldn’t have giant Quads racing up and down the street all day long. And I shouldn’t have endure those motor-driven skateboards drowning out the radio, and driven by small children not wearing helmets. And the exhaust from those damn things is awful.

Sooner or later, the loose dogs on the corner are going to hurt someone. We’ve had Animal Enforcement up here plenty of times, but the conflicting schedules of the participants have neutered our efforts to have these dogs contained. The dog warden works dayshift, and so do the negligent owners, so they never meet up when the dogs are let loose. Just two weeks ago I was rushed by one of them and I was forced to brandish a baton right before the owner called it off. Honestly, I offered my left arm to be chewed, and really thought it was about to be chewed.

The absentee parents on Penn Avenue have literally turned my street into a playground. These unsupervised kids can’t play on a busy street such as that, so they run amok screaming, throwing stones and lighting small fires on this street. The point being, if you want kids, I shouldn’t have to be saddled with them seven days a week. And these smallish children curse like drunken sailors, and think nothing of hurling said insults at adults. Very nice.

Speed limits, or a lack of adherence to posted speed limits is another thing. Sorry, but I shouldn’t have cars racing down what looks like a dead end street, while trying to teach a three-year-old how to pedal and balance a bicycle. I absolutely hate speed bumps, but I’m thinking of buying some asphalt and doing what obviously needs to be done.

How about these people that use their properties like a dumping ground? Up Penn Avenue a ways, we’ve got a private contractor who’s property has more debris lying around than the scrap yard up the street. It looks like sh*t, and it definitely detracts from the neighborhood. Then we’ve got the people too completely lazy to sweep the sidewalks, or mow the tiny tree lawns in front of their homes. And while that may not be a crime, it sure is a nuisance. Is it too much to ask that people take some small amount of pride in their immediate surroundings? In my mind, if your yard is filled with scum, then, you, by logical extension, must be a scum.

I think we need a bit more personal responsibility going on up here. I think we need more civility and courtesy. I think we need more doing unto others as…well, you know how it goes. If the neighborhood is half-filled with people that act like assholes, then it’s always going to look and feel as if it’s home to nothing but assholes.

I don’t need a million dollars from my councilman. And I don’t think I need more cops. I think what we need is to impress upon people the overriding need to take just a little pride in their neighborhoods. And to cool it with the ongoing parade of annoying nuisances. As I’ve said many times before, you can’t outlaw stupidity. But isn’t there a way by which we can combat and reduce stupidity?

I dunno.

Time to don the bike helmet.