8-22-2007 Gutter politics already?

My dog died. I’m not exactly sure why, but no autopsy is forthcoming. I dunno, last Saturday he just started whining. And as the day progressed, he kept whining. Then he started breathing real short and quick. Wifey got herself all worried, so we discussed our veterinary options. Bandit passed out for a while, so we kind of forgot about him while watching some Netflix goodies. Next thing I knew, he was sprawled out across the back porch and no longer breathing.

As German Shepherds go, with their leg ailments and such, I guess 18 years was a real good run. I was never what you would call an animal lover by any means. But, after Bandit (in dog years) became a senior citizen, I kind of took it easy on him no matter how stupid he got. It just didn’t seem right to be beating on a grandfather. Don’t much matter now. Whatever.

That will have to suffice as my one and only version of “pet blogging.”

Earlier today my sister Suzie called to inform me that her father and my step-father, Leo Raymond, had passed away in Ansonia, Connecticut. I think he was 69.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. A part of me feels completely indifferent, while another part of me yearns to be sad. Despite what the guy put me through as a kid, he was still the only father figure I ever had, other than what I imagined my real father would be like if he ever actually showed up. There was a time when I desperately wanted to meet my dad, while I could care less about what might have become of Leo. But after many years apart, he visited us here in Wilkes-Barre and seemed much more tolerable in his much older and mellower version of himself. He even got me to admit that in between the many outbursts of domestic violence, the arguments, the vindictiveness and the all around craziness, there were a few good times sprinkled in there somewhere. Yeah, there were. But way too few.

When I was a sprat of 10, I hated his guts. When I was 17, I punched him about the head and face when he showed up at my graduation party unannounced. But when I was 30, I threw the old guy a bone. I guess I was getting older and more tolerable too.

So, all that’s left from the good/bad ole days is Suzie and myself.

Now I do feel sad.

I thought we were supposed to wait until after Labor Day to get back into the political swing of things. I thought it’d be quiet for just a spell yet. I honestly thought that Walter Griffith would be the first one out of the starting gate as the November general election drew closer and closer. But I never thought we’d leap right from the waning days of summer directly into the gutter.

Apparently, I was dead wrong.

From the Times Leader:

W-B mayor rips Urban charge

Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban says he thinks Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton crossed the line when his realty company received a commission on a downtown building sold for a government-subsidized apartment project.

But Leighton and county Community Development Director Andy Reilly say there was no impropriety because the city had no oversight or involvement in the project.

Leighton believes Urban is trying to drum up a negative report about him because Leighton is running against Urban’s wife, Linda Stets, in November.

That’s really all that needs to be said right there.

The city did not take receipt of the funding involved, the county did. The county is the municipality of record, whereas the allocation of the funding is concerned. And as Andy Reilly correctly pointed out, the city had no oversight or involvement in the project.

Oh, but it’s an election year.

Urban points to a clause from county procedures that are supposed to be followed in all federally funded community development projects. The clause lists those who cannot have an interest, direct or indirect, in these projects, including any member of the “governing body of the locality in which the program is situated.”

Urban interprets that as meaning the Wilkes-Barre mayor. The mayor’s realty company – C.A. Leighton Real Estate – received $51,500 in commissions when the building was purchased in August 2006 from North River Associates and Robert E. Marsh Jr.

But Reilly said the governing body in the clause should be interpreted as Luzerne County, because it was a county project. That means a county commissioner could not profit from the project, he said.

Reilly said his office coordinated the project through the county’s human services division, which then sought public requests for proposals for an apartment project and ultimately chose Volunteers of America.

Urban’s interpretation would only apply, Reilly said, if the county had given the money to a municipality, which then used it for a project that directly benefited an elected official of that municipality.

Oh, but it’s an election year.

Reilly said his office abides by federal law that prohibits profiting by individuals who have any responsibilities or decision-making power over the federally funded project or are in a position to gain inside information about the project

Urban questions whether Leighton had inside information, but Volunteers of America Director Bill Jones repeatedly stressed that his agency picked 25 N. River St. on its own after neighbors objected to another prospective location on New Grove Street.

Leighton made sure there was no city involvement because he did not want any appearance of impropriety, Jones said. The C.A. Leighton commission was paid by the building sellers.

So, as you can clearly see, there is the “Urban interpretation” and then there is reality. There’s the facts, and then there’s the gutter where Steve Urban has obviously taken his politics on behalf of his candidate wife. There’s the attack dog, and there’s the smiling candidate.

This is all much ado about nothing except creating the image in some people’s minds that Mayor Tom Leighton, as Urban put it, “crossed the line.” This is a pathetic attempt to create the impression that Tom Leighton is not above reproach whereas ethics are involved. And sadly for the diminutive attack dog and his candidate wife, nothing could be further from the truth. As my coworker put it this morning while discussing Steve Urban’s lowbrow tactics, “What a fu>kin’ weasel!”

‘Nuf said. Nice try Commissioner Weasel. The Republican minority commissioner in Luzerne County. The leader of the malcontents, the misinformed “activists” and the perennial losers. The leader of the minority dingbats.

Being that it’s so, so early in this campaign season, the only question that remains is how low will Stets and Urban go?

Based solely on this sad stunt, I’m thinking we’re gonna need waders to follow the ill-advised exploits of these two. And a clothespin for the nostrils.

Sez me.

As a result of this development, County told to reconsider inflatable dam, the Times Leader has editorialized that it‘s Time to let the air out of the inflatable dam plan.

Well it’s about time. No longer can those opposing the inflatable dam be referred to as environmentalists, river enthusiasts, or the lowest of the lowly low…bloggers. Nope, the Times Leader has decided to add it’s voice to the voice of reason coming from those who want the Susquehanna to remain a free-flowing river forever more. Again, ‘bout time.

But, as we all know, Congressman Kanjorski is a stubborn man not prone to bouts of stupidity, like his silly constituents.

Reprinted without permission in it’s entirety:

Time to let the air out of the inflatable dam plan

TRUTH HAPPENS TO an idea,” philosopher William James once said, “…it is made true by events.”

That, we believe, is what has happened to U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski’s plan for an inflatable dam on the Susquehanna River.

Truth happened to an idea that was well-intentioned and well-meant, but not well thought out.

Where first there was a trickle of opposition to the dam idea, more voices have been heard telling their version of the truth. In this instance, that truth is that the dam should not be built.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked the Luzerne County Flood Protection Agency to analyze dam alternatives to reconnect people to the river, according to Luzerne County officials.

The authority – the sponsor of the inflatable dam concept – has spent $1 million on studies and permit applications to date.

That’s a lot of water over the dam. Let’s not send any more good money after it. Especially because, as Jennifer Learn-Andes reported Saturday, “Government regulators continue to hold up permit approval, saying they want more evidence the dam won’t block fish or harm people and aquatic life, in part due to the pooling up of pollutants.”

The Army Corp of Engineers proposal drew immediate praise from the national nonprofit American Rivers conservation group, which praised the corps for seeking an analysis of dam alternatives.

“We are also happy to hear that the analysis will incorporate the corps’ own work that is already being undertaken as mitigation,” the organization wrote, “such as the walkways and portals.”

American Rivers noted that is has consistently “raised significant concerns” about the proposed dam’s impact on water quality, fish passage, wetlands, flooding and maintenance budgets.

Calling the proposed dam an “expensive and difficult to maintain liability,” the letter said that “the important economic and ecological services that this free-flowing river provides should not be needlessly sacrificed.”

We agree. We’re on board with the idea that the idea of the inflatable dam should be quietly deflated, and the Susquehanna, whose portal openings and rebirth are ever closer, should be allowed to flow forever free.

And that’s the truth.


From the e-mail inbox Mark:

Did you happen to read the "What's wrong with Wilkes-Barre?" section of Linda Stets Web site? My favorite part is the allegation that the Department of Public Works has dwindled from 200 to 35. Now, she -- like all politicians -- never cites where she gets this piece of information but I can assure you that it is entirely false. I've worked as a summer worker between from 2002-2006, and there were never 200 employees. Maybe if you include the minimum-wage paid summer workers, but many of them work as park attendants, lifeguards, Hollenback employees, cemetery workers and painters. Obviously, Mrs. Urban is just aching for votes.


Yeah, I know. Technically, she may be correct without even knowing it. Maybe in 1912, when the downtown was packed with horse-drawn carriages, maybe there were 200 DPW employees. I mean, that’s a lot of horse hockey and would require a lot of manpower to stay ahead of it. So, when the streets were lined with horse sh*t, maybe, that’s, maybe we actually had 200 DPW employees.

As for the modern era, I read in one of the two local newspapers that the DPW has dwindled from 80 to 40 employees during the past decade plus. In other words, this has been an ongoing trend for quite some time now.

But, as her campaign Web Site states:

Only 35 DPW Workers: That is down from 200 over the past 4 years. Is Leighton raising taxes, cutting services, and selling off our city? Is it any wonder why our streets, and parks look the way they do?

Either she needs a bit more fact-checking, or she needs to start telling something a little closer to the truth. We did not have 200 full-time DPW employees four years ago, so who knows what she’s going on and on about. Ask her is she’s going to rehire 160 DPW workers and see what she says. Like we could afford them. Like we could pay them and still balance the budget.

Although, the remainder of her site is pockmarked with inaccuracies, intentionally or otherwise. As mayoral candidates go, she’s about as attractive as a bursting boil. I wouldn’t vote for her if she promised me a vintage Gibson SG autographed by none other than Francis Vincent Zappa.

Besides, she’s a republican candidate in Wilkes-Barre. And, in Wilkes-Barre, Republicans poll about as high as Dubya does nationally. Although, the republican party in this city would be wise to stop climbing into bed with any Tom, Dick and Looney that wants to run for an elected office, as it has for too long now.

She’ll get her 25% come November.

From the e-mail inbox WB online,

I saw this letter in the print version of the Times Leader, but when I searched it on their site this letter came up. It is more complete so I'm guessing this is the unedited letter. I wonder if your good buddy Steve Corbett, the self proclaimed nanny of the region, will take his co-worker to task for his insensitivity.

Do you think he will?



Alzheimer's Disease as a punch line?

Today, Friday August 17, during the first segment of the seven o'clock hour, WILK's Kevin Lynn decided to denigrate the late President Ronald Reagan.

I know this is not much of a surprise from a far left liberal such as Mr. Lynn.

However, he did not attack a Reagan era policy.

No, Kevin Lynn, in a display of abject bravado decided it was amusing to take a jab at President Reagan's Alzheimer's affliction.

Kevin Lynn, with smug attitude in his voice, attempted to regale the listeners and diminish the former President by relating what he obviously thought was a humorous tale.

Utilizing laughter disguised malice, Mr. Lynn told of an incident in which Ronald Reagan did not recognize his own son and proceeded to introduce himself to Ron Jr.

Today we are aware that a dignity diminishing condition was the cause of this incident. So I implore; what type of small minded, mean spirited dolt would find this humorous?

Sadly, Kevin Lynn.

There was a justifiable uproar when Don Imus made an insensitive and racist comment on the air. Will there be a similar backlash at WILK?

Is it okay for someone to abuse the public airwaves and attack the defenseless?

Alzheimer's has been diagnosed in approximately 5.1 million Americans.

It has touch my life and the lives of many of my friends and patients, I would venture a guess it has impacted many who are reading this letter.

What type of an individual would, especially one who claims such open minded sensitivity, find it admirable to poke fun at someone who suffered from such an atrocious ailment, a disease that not only robs people of their health and faculties but a malady that steals one's least expensive, yet most prized and most cherished possessions — their memories?

Joseph Leonardi, D.C.

I wholeheartedly agree with Joe’s sentiments. But, should we really be outraged by anything that Kevin Lynn has to say anymore? The guy is repulsive on a daily basis and much of what he delivers by way of personal attacks is vile filth. What can you say about him that hasn’t been said? He’s nasty. He’s obnoxious. He’s nauseating. And he’s often way beyond mean-spirited whereas non-lefties are concerned.

I had to endure his belittling of the president for months on end because of a bike bell that doesn’t even exist. Yep, George Bush blew out his knee and stays in shape by bicycling, so Kevin couldn’t control himself. Every day presented another chance to mock bicycling by mentioning the fictional bike bell. Every-fu>king-day no less. And what did his boss have to say in response?


This morning he was chastising us because we don’t seem to care that a gay porn producer was slaughtered in his own home. You see, we’re not as tolerant as Kevin, the guy who would mock a guy suffering from Alzheimer's, only because of his politics.

Oh, no. The gay porn guy doesn’t seem to be registering. So what? So what, Kevin? Aren’t we all entitled to our likes and dislikes? If we find something to be repulsive, is it okay with you if we distance ourselves from it? Are we homophobic for not caring? Are we hateful republicans all?

Kevin’s not real big on self-control. But he is big on telling us what we should do, think and feel. Or, that is, be like he is. This is a guy who hates baseball because his daddy told him to. Some free thinker there. “Daddy always said…”

Forrest Viking Lynn-Gump.

As for Steve Corbett, he sucked at the Times Leader, and he sucks on WILK. He’s all blustery and all impressed with himself, but he never actually accomplishes anything of note, or anything he sets out to. This is the same guy who once berated all of us for having failed a lifelong homeless guy, Charlie Weiss, who has always been right where he wanted to be…on the streets and free from any semblance of responsibility.

If Corbett grew a second brain, he’d still be about as clueless as a beached jellyfish. He rants, he raves, he shouts, he huffs and he puffs, but he’s nothing more than yet another bleeding heart do-gooder who wouldn’t know how to change the world if Moses came down from out of the blue with the directions on stone tablets rebuilt by Halliburton.

Corbett’s back!!!

Yeah, and so is malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy.

Big effing whoop.

‘Til next time.