5-9-2007 It was sumthin’

I was asked if I intended to take in the political forum sponsored by The Lu Lac Political Letter, and quickly decided against it.

From the Times Leader:

Part of big W-B field states case

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Forum attracts majority of W-B candidates

Nothing against the idea, I just think it was too ambitious, two crowded with candidates and all too long as promised. I’d prefer to see these sorts of endeavors done on a district level. Although, David Yonki deserves major kudos for putting this thing together, as does Sue Henry.

I’ll admit that I thought it would draw more interested onlookers than it did--75 as reported by the Times Leader. But after talking to one of the forum participants, it sounds as if very few voters showed up. Instead, each candidate seemed to have an adoring cheering section that tagged along. That’s unfortunate. Reeks of apathy.

Plus, the bulk of our registered voters are predominately senior citizens, and very many of those seniors, probably the majority, are not exactly what we‘d call computer literate. So, if that’s the case, a forum staged by a local blog is already flying under the political radar to a great degree. That’s how I feel. Think about it. How many of the grayish voters that vote religiously have even heard of Lu Lac, Wilkes-Barre Online or any other local blog? Not many, I’d bet.

Which is not to suggest that David Yonki should be at all discouraged by the light turnout. Rather, I think he should invite some more help and retool a bit before the second edition of this much-needed forum goes down. We need more of this, not less.

If I may add my two cents worth, I think we need to offer free beer during the next go-round. Stop! I’m kidding! Jeez. Chill out. Just me being self-centered again. Sorry.

Never mind.

I see the 6-person think tank was at it again, saving the world, saving humanity and whatnot. As if.

You know, if you ever find yourself invited to this hackneyed soiree, it’s definitely time to reevaluate your life so as to determine exactly when and why it went so completely far off the tracks.

Round table in back yard

The first speaker was Wilkes-Barre mayoral and city council candidate Tim Grier, who said he’s running because government leaders aren’t “acknowledging all of our neighbors,” but are “acknowledging themselves and their campaign contributors first.

“If they have the platinum health care package, … why aren’t they giving that back to us? … If we don’t have it, they can go without until we can figure out a system where everyone can have it,” Grier said.

Ah, socialist tendencies in lieu of career achievements or advancements. Freebies for everyone. Real ’60s gibberish.

Want the platinum health care package? Okay. Try dispensing with the professional protester routine and get a freaking job. Works for me. I supply mine, but I also should have to provide you with yours so you can underachieve some more? That’s the plan? I’ll work some more overtime so the slackers can continue to slack?

Do you love it, do you hate it? There it is the way you made it.--Francis Vincent Zappa

Fiorucci presented a Lifetime Free Speech Award to Scranton resident Kurt Shotko, who was arrested with Victor Bobrzyk, also of Scranton, while protesting the war in Iraq at Wilkes-Barre’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2005.

A jury convicted both men of disorderly conduct and threw out a charge of resisting arrest filed against Shotko. They were sentenced to six months probation and are appealing their convictions to state Superior Court.

Yeah, reward idiocy. Nice. This is the slacker who felt the need to make a political statement right in front of my grandchildren. His rights, his constant need for attention, supercedes our rights. Yep, we’re not entitled to a nice peaceful parade with this guy running loose. Sez him and the rest his perpetually unemployed drum-circle cohorts.

I guess I should pay for his health care, too.

Maybe even his “medicinal” marijuana.

Author Mort Malkin talked about the “imminent dangers” of global warming, explaining the major contributing causes and possible solutions that need to be implemented in the next 10 to 15 years, before, he said, “we reach the point of no return.”

Two of the most problematic greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming are carbon dioxide and methane, Malkin said, adding that two major sources of those gases are coal-burning power plants and cows.

To cut down on methane emissions, he said, people should stop eating hamburgers. And to decrease carbon dioxide, we must switch to renewable and clean alternative energy sources such as solar, hydrogen, wind and ocean technology.

Let me guess. He did his part by walking to the 6-man think tank, right? Oh, he drove? Well, I guess I’m supposed to learn to live without, while he and the it’s-the-end-of-the-world crowd keep on chartering busses and planes to the big rent-a-mob protests.

So, now you know. No more hamburgers. No more pickles, no more lettuce, the hapless moonbats should not upset us, all they ask is that we live like the squirrels.

Jackass. There’s a place in Waymart where they warehouse people such as these in comfortable padded cells.

In conclusion, what a fu>king bunch! What they need the most can be found right here.

Sez me.

On Sunday morning, before Gage, Taylor and their parents had to return to Tennessee, we got the kids out for a bikeabout the city. Having gone without such a cycling tour since last September, they enjoyed themselves immensely. We pedaled approximately 5 miles, stopped at McDonalds just to generate some more greenhouse gases and that was that.

But, while we were out, we came across a structure fire on South River Street that surprised the hell out of me. There had been some police chatter on the scanner, but nothing about any structure fires. In addition, we had passed fire headquarters a scant ten minutes before, and our fire apparatus was still holstered. Huh?

When we cycled past the smoky scene, we encountered an engine from Duryea, plus a ladder truck from Freeland. Freeland? Isn’t that, like, far, far away or something? And not a piece of Wilkes-Barre apparatus in sight. Huh?

I’ve been kind of out of it this past week, but, would anyone care to explain?


I wrote on these pages some days ago that never once has a political candidate seeking votes sat on my front porch and talked political shop with me. Not once.

Sure, I’ve come home on occasion to find political literature stuffed somewhere or other, so some have dared. Still though, many a political hopeful has canvassed my street, but conveniently skipped my house while I was watching.

So far this political season, we’ve had 3 District E city council candidates come a canvassing Thompson Street. I found Ron Silkosky’s campaign literature waiting for me in…um, I want to say February. Needless to say, I missed him.

Charlotte Raup dropped by just to say hello, simply because I already know where she stands on the issues. And as far as I’m concerned, while practically every other candidate is feeding us nice-sounding generalities about how to fix our neighborhoods, Charlotte is the only one who knows where to start and where to finish: by relentlessly waging a war on drugs. A war on those who produce them, a war on those who stash and sell them and, finally, a war on those who use them.

Addiction is the cause of the great majority of our crimes. Addiction is causing most of the reverse-gentrification we find so horrifying. Addiction is destroying small town America, as well as the big cities. We have to get aggressive about reducing the supply, but most importantly, the demand. You know, if there was no demand, the suppliers would not come a calling packing concealed weapons.

Anywho, click on that link above and she’ll speak her piece about illegal drugs.

Then we had Mike Merritt banging on doors on this tiny street. I was out, but returned while he was still within spitting distance, made eye contact with him on purpose, but he apparently decided against engaging the big, bad political animal. And I know he knew damn well who I was, since he was being escorted by one of my neighbors. As far as I’m concerned, he was but another political hopeful who didn’t want to have to deal with me, or possibly be embarrassed by what I may have written about such an encounter. What I’m trying to say is, I was less than impressed.

If you purposely skip the bloggers, that says to me that you’d much prefer to meet the less than informed registered voters. Yeah, shake a few hands, kiss a few ugly babies, make some grandiose-sounding statements about the un-funded stuff you intend to do, but stay away from the one guy who can and will match wits with you. I swear, you’d think they’d look at it as a challenge, but they rarely do.

Remember, though, I don’t bite. That is, not usually.

Anyway, before my brother Ray went and turned the past week into a complete blur, there did appear this one council hopeful at the front door, and on purpose no less.

Yep, Joe Daniel appeared here baring a hand to shake, and then we sat and chewed on the local political fat for a half hour or so. Although, I did point out that he was in the wrong voting district, a humorous aside.

I cannot vote for him on Tuesday, and in no way am I trying to influence the council race in that nearby East End voting district. But I will say he is genuine, reasonable, thoroughly likeable and generally has his finger on the pulse of the city.

And while I think this voting by districts claptrap is a cleverly-designed ruse perpetrated upon us to help one political party at the other’s expense, I think what people like Joe Daniel prove is that even if every single incumbent council person is thrown out of office this coming Tuesday, it doesn’t necessarily mean the city won’t be in capable hands, if the voters vote responsibly.

Yes, I think we’ve got a few idiots running, some lightweights running and a few that probably need to be drug-tested. But, at the same time, while we’ve got few loose cannons clamoring away for votes, we’ve also got some capable people running, too. If we “throw ‘em all out” on election day, the end result may look less like Walter’s promised revolution, and more like a slow, but steady tweaking of the status quo.

If you feel absolutely compelled to throw ‘em out, vote for a reasonable candidate and not one of those clueless revolutionaries. If a political tsunami truly is about to sweep over Wilkes-Barre, let’s make damn sure the aftermath is not far worse than the giant wave itself. If you must vote for change, vote for someone like Joe.

And the way I see it, each of the five voting districts has a Joe or two lurking out there.

All of which leads me to Tuesday. You know me, I can’t wait to vote. What else is new? Politics is the best non-contact sport going, and as the not so old saying goes: All politics is local.

Very many of you have e-mailed me in the hopes of receiving some pre-election night prognosticating. Seriously, how do you predict a race that was purposely dumbed-down? How can I know which of the candidates might have extremely large extended families living in the city and all suddenly registered to vote? Living in my voting district as it is, how could I possibly know which of the candidates glad-handing in the other districts has an inescapably attractive charisma? If Wilkes-Barre has an Obama running around, I have yet to meet that person. Finally, how can you predict races that will ultimately be decided with less total votes being cast than a magisterial race in Tibet?

You can’t.

With that said, I will tell you what I believe, as well as what I’m hearing.

District A

What we’ve got here is a toss-up between Shirley Vitanovec and Rick Cronauer. While very many say Shirley will eventually pull it out, just as many are predicting she won’t. Honestly, I thinking she won’t.

The remainder of the candidates in that district are of little interest and should consider taking on a hobby, or a job.

District B

I have no clue on this one. Initially, I thought Tony Thomas was a lock for reelection. But, lately I’ve been told repeatedly of this groundswell of constituents that are grumbling aloud about his performance as an elected official. You got me on all of that, and maybe it’s just wishful-thinking on someone else’s part.

At this late date, his opponents are pretty much mysteries to me.

I think he’ll eek it out, but, I don’t live in the “Iron Triangle,” and truly do not care. Remember, it’s dog-eat-dog now that we’re voting by districts.

Starting with my street, pave all of Nord End and give that other district a new stop sign or two.

You wanted it, you got it!

District C

Based on her astounding vote totals in prior elections, Kathy Kane wins.


District D

This one is crazy. You’ve got 2 incumbents squaring off against one another, so do they split the incumbent vote and both find themselves on the outside looking out? Or is one unproportionately more popular than the other and wins hands down? You got me.

As for the challengers, at least for me, they are mostly enigmas. Tim Anderson stands out as intelligent and extremely camera friendly, but his firehouse proposal was completely ill-advised, as well as downright hogwash. It was a political blunder as far as I’m concerned, but maybe the less-informed voters will go for that sort of thing.

Thanks to our recent encounter, I figure Joe Daniel could capably handle the responsibility he is seeking out.

As for myself, I’d vote for Bill Barrett. He’s served one term and is not responsible for whatever ill anyone would like to blame on city councils, both past and present. He’s measured, he’s intelligent, his long career in law enforcement brings a unique perspective to city council and he’s a thoroughly likeable person.

In all honesty, I’m pulling for him.

District E

The Democratic party is officially endorsing a well-connected political neophyte in Mike Merritt. He got the, in my mind, unearned endorsement, as well as the Leighton/Merritt yard signs suddenly plastered all over the place. Is the well-orchestrated fix in, or do the voters in my neighborhood have other plans?

He didn’t knock on my front door. As I previously stated, if yard signs counted as votes, Virgil Argenta would knock Hillary Clinton and her flying monkeys out of the box. But, last I checked, they do not count as official votes. And while some think he might be the first ever Mayor of Nord End, I don’t see it happening for him.

I don’t think Ron Silkosky or Frank Mattelo have enough name recognition to pull it out. In fact, even I had problems trying to discover just who the heck Matello is, and what he says he wants to do if he’s elected.

Being the lone Republican, John Yencha will hang around until November, so I don’t know that he’s even bothered to campaign much just yet. Although, he has a real chance to win come November depending upon who wins the primary next week. Basically, I’m hearing quite a bit of this “Anyone, but Virgil” talk making the rounds.

That leaves Charlotte Raup. Initially, many of the people I talked to thought she was a decent candidate, but also thought she didn’t really have a shot at winning. Oh, but getting out there and meeting the people has proven that she has name recognition and then some. And deservedly so.

As for me, I think she’s a formidable candidate, and a candidate that has been out there in the streets after dark for over ten long years striving to make a noticeable difference in her community. She’s passionate, she’s committed and she’s totally giving of herself and her time. At this point, I think her husband deserves a plaque for being so supportive of her tireless crime-fighting efforts.

If she wins, Nord End will one day look smart for having elected her. And if she loses, Wilkes-Barre will have lost in the process.

I intend to vote for her and I firmly believe she is the upset kid.

To be perfectly frank, when the gracious owners of the Yeosock funeral home in Plains agreed to waive every possible fee they could to make Ray’s funeral somewhat affordable, I seriously doubted that they thought some guy silly enough to not have a life insurance policy in place would draw a mob for his final send-off. And I doubt they thought somebody being buried in a Jeremy Shockey jersey could command that aforementioned mob. And a mob it was.

That place drew more people on Monday night than Yankee stadium could on Bobblehead Doll giveaway night. It was amazing. It was heartfelt, and for me, very heartening. And I knew it. I knew that his happy-go-lucky, his friends-for-life demeanor had touched a lot of people along the way, but I didn’t except to see crowd-control measures being put into place. It was astounding to see so many people crowding into that place, and I honestly think it took some of the sting out of his untimely passing.

To all that bothered to pay their last respects, you definitely made my night when I probably needed it the most. When the grand finale finally rolled around, my tear ducts activated, but the outpouring of love, grief and support rendered them far less operable than I would have previously believed.

As Uncle Jiggy would say, It was sumthin’.

Thank you.

Ray & Suzie at Giants Stadium