10-6-2007 Meet the challengers?

I have not had the time for this internet nonsense of late. Between fantasy football and work staying very busy due to the unnaturally warm September, I’ve been watching the blogosphere from the electronic sidelines. Not that I’ve missed much of any importance, since the local efforts are 100% partisan tommyrot.

What’s wrong with this picture? A local mayor is trying to lay down immigration polices. Meanwhile, a U.S. senator and his minions propose a resolution condemning a talk radio show host. Is it me?

For more on this, read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Are we holding an election a month from now, or was it secretly postponed? Seriously, as run-ups to local general elections go, this one has been quieter than a funeral for a lifelong indigent. Other than some scurrilous anonymous comments posted on local blogs, it’s been far less than interesting. Funny how anonymity and scurrilous comments seem joined at the hip on the internet. That’s the primary reason I’ve lost my taste for it to a large degree. If the hapless fools sounded so foolish in the now defunct SAYSO column, then what’s different when the fools sound off online? Yeah, yeah we know. Tom Leighton has earned countless millions while conducting real estate dealings from his office at City Hall. Repeat it aloud one more time and maybe that’ll make it all true. And when he’s not busy with all of that, he attends dog fights at the Murray Complex. And he bites the heads off of small children. Ask Tim Grier, he’s got the proof.

As for the closings of Campus Billiards and Club Mardi Gras, so much for tailoring the downtown to the needs of the college kids. If, in fact, we want to open businesses that the college kids would continually flock to, perhaps we need a place that sells spare parts for beer dispensing equipment. From what I’ve seen over and over and over again, the college kids flock to Corba’s Beverage on Pennsylvania Avenue on most Friday nights. Instead of a pool hall on the city’s square, maybe somebody should open a kick-ass bingo parlor and offer free pigs-in-the-blanket.

And for the LCTA crowd, how about a Family Dollar store. Were the old Kresge and Woolworth stores not five-and-dimes? And do we not whine incessantly about visiting those places once again? Well, then why not open the modern day equivalent of those long gone five-and-dime thrift outlets?

How about a cart with roasted peanuts? The pigeons would love that.

Campus Billiards was a spectacular spot, if not, unique. But, as a grown-up of sorts, I have only so much time to expend on such pursuits. As for Club Mardi Gras, I tried to go in there once just to see what it was all about, but I was denied entrance because of the dress code. And I told the security guys I wanted nothing more than two or three beers, a good look at the place and I was out of there. Nope. No rock t-shirts allowed.

And that’s a helluva curious thing, a business turning it’s back on sales. Costs can be controlled. Crowds can be controlled. But if you haven’t sufficient sales, you have nothing at all to control. That was an ass-backwards approach for a start-up business, denying customers access to the store. And now that store is in the recycling bin. Go figure.

Then we’ve got this baseless charge that the mayor didn’t do enough to save Solid Cactus, and perhaps, the aforementioned businesses, too. Funny how that worked out. He said we needed more parking downtown. He said we needed to build the intermodel garage and it’s 752 additional parking spaces. He said we needed metered parking on the square. In a nutshell, he said parking, parking and more parking. But the same howling critics said he was wrong, that more parking was not an immediate priority. His mayoral opponent, Linda Stets, even shouted “No we don’t!“ at the council meeting where the move was announced and Leighton said a lack of parking was at the crux of the issue.

And what did Solid Cactus cite as the primary reason for pulling up stakes? 200 free parking spaces. I guess he was supposed to file an injunction to block their leaving, or something, since the same howling critics claim he didn’t do enough to keep them in the downtown. Perhaps a roadblock would work.

With recent history as a guide, the fastest growing internet fledglings are usually grown as fast as they can possibly be grown, and then sold off to a larger competitor. So while those high-tech jobs are still in our community, for how long is the question. Stay tuned on all of that.

Speaking of super duper high-tech jobs in all of their wonderment, how’s that information superhighway at the old Steam Heat Authority building coming along? Has that become a dead issue? And if it is a truly dead issue, isn’t there some way we can blame it on Tom Leighton?

Timmy, care to weigh in with some more of your threadbare “proof?” Walter? Steve? Anybody?

This should bother anyone that thinks of themselves as a concerned voter.

From the Citizens’ Voice:

Candidates' night draws lukewarm response

Reprinted in it’s entirety and without permission.

Candidates' night draws lukewarm response


The South Wilkes-Barre Business Alliance has scheduled a night for members to meet the candidates for mayor and city council in District A, but only the Republican candidates have agreed to attend.

The alliance invited Mayor Tom Leighton and Republican mayoral candidate Linda Stets-Urban to the event scheduled for Oct. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Firwood United Methodist Church on Old River Road. Stets-Urban said she would attend. Leighton said he is scheduled to be out of town that day, but he will try to reschedule.

Republican city council candidate Walter Griffith Jr. said he would attend, but Democrat Rick Cronauer declined.

The alliance will move forward with the event with the candidates who choose to attend, said Pat Gazenski, president of the South Wilkes-Barre Business Alliance.

The event will not be a political debate, but an open forum with a moderator asking questions submitted by the audience, she said. After the question-and-answer period, each candidate will be given the same time frame to present their platforms. Since the alliance's first meet the candidate night for city council candidates in District A before the primary was such a success, the alliance unanimously voted to hold another event before the November election.

But what of the rest of the city council hopefuls, as well as the incumbents? Is this sort of election affair beneath them? Or are they so sure of being elected, they wouldn’t want to risk screwing it up by misspeaking in public? What’s the deal?

As far as I’m concerned, all of the incumbents should be there. No exceptions. If you feel that you’ve done a good job during your most current term, then get on out there and explain it to us face-to-face. This is not beneath you, this is not a political risk and the voters of this city deserve to hear it in your own words.

As for the favored political neophytes for a council seat, Rick Cronauer and Mike Merritt, there is no excuse good enough for not attending this “meet the candidates” soiree. As political newcomers, you owe us a personally-delivered accounting of yourself, as well as what you would hope to accomplish as an elected leader of Wilkes-Barre.

In my voting district, we’ve got Mike Merritt squaring off against John Yencha for the Nord End’s first ever Mayor of Nord End slot. And as far as I can see, the two of them need to be there. To not attend would make me wonder whether they are even worthy of my vote. Sorry, guys, but it’s going to take more than a yard sign and a 10-second add on some cable channel nobody looks at.

In fact, the lack of attendance by the incumbents, the favorites and the politically anointed is exactly why I usually skip these sorts of events. Sorry, but listening to the same old challengers (Republicans) promising oodles and oodles of things we cannot afford just doesn’t excite me. I can only stand to hear the inane ramblings of the factually challenged for so long. Rather, every once in a while, I think it’d be beyond refreshing to hear the incumbents, the favorites and the politically anointed tell us what’s in store for us and our city if we do the predictable and vote for them. Really, is that too much to ask?

Sure, we know something of Bill Barrett, Kathy Kane and Tony Thomas and their many legislative and oversight exploits. But what of the newcomers, Cronauer and Merritt? Who are they? Why are they qualified? Why now? Why run for council at this juncture? What is on their agenda? Will they bring something new to the mix? Or are they just the another couple of gavel bangers?

You got me. My district’s favorite, Mike Merritt did the door-to-door thing on my street, but skipped this modest adobe even though he knew I was home. And that annoyed me to no end. What’s that all about? You want my vote, but you’re concerned about what I might write about you? Who knows. Maybe he thinks he doesn’t need my vote since he’s got the party’s endorsement. Whatever.

Anyway, a meet the candidates event should not be watered down every time so that all it amounts to is a meet the challengers again night out. In a robust and invigorating political environment, the incumbents, the favorites and the politically anointed would not be afraid to face the voters as part of this needed forum. But since they so infrequently do take in these events, I’m left to assume that they are less interested in governmental transparency than they are their political campaigns and careers.

C’mon, people. What are you afraid of? Let it all hang out. The voters of this city deserve as much.

Sez me.

Finally! Despite his kicking and screaming all the way to sanity, Congressman Paul Kanjorski has finally seen the light.

No, you don’t dam a polluted river and clean it up later. No, you clean the river first and talk about adding amenities--questionable or otherwise--at some later date.

An excerpt from the Times Leader:

The Susquehanna River cleanup took a huge step forward with Friday’s announcement that $20 million in federal funds is on its way.

U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, said the project, which will correct sewer outfalls that release raw sewage into the river during periods of heavy rain or snowfall, is “transforming the river from a threat to an asset.”

With elected officials and government representatives at his side, Kanjorski spoke at the riverbank in Nesbitt Park. He said the recently passed Water Resources Development Act includes authorization for the $20 million for Wyoming Valley.

$20 million flows into river cleanup

It’s hard to criticize the good congressman when he’s got a huge federal check in tow. And, trust me, I am absolutely thrilled at the thought of eliminating the worst of the sewage outflows. But, with that said, I feel that he expedited these funds due to the fact that his dubious inflatable dam project was seriously in doubt of ever becoming a reality. In effect, he’s trying to disarm the dam’s growing legion of critics. Even if the river were to become noticeably cleaner than an assembly lab at General Dynamics, I remain opposed to erecting a dam on the Susquehanna at Wilkes-Barre.

Even with the worst of the sewage outflows removed from the polluting mix, we’ve still got the acid mine drainage issue to contend with. And we’ve still got the Butler Mine Tunnel, inflatable coffer dam in place, or not. And we’ve also got the heavily polluted Lackawanna River spilling into the Susquehanna north of Pittston. And if you’ve never spied the Lackawanna, trust me, it ain’t what you’d call pretty.

So, while this $20 million is supremely good news, the fight against the rubber dam goes on.

More passion than brains, right Uncle Paul?

Here’s a picture of the Lackawanna River at Watts Street, Duryea.

Acid runoff galore!

From the e-mail inbox To all:

The national conservation group, American Rivers, is coming to the Wyoming Valley.

A few key members of their staff will be paddling the Susquehanna on Friday, October 19th. One of our goals is to travel a section of the river that would be impacted by the proposed inflatable dam. We are planning to paddle from the PFBC Apple Tree access to Nesbitt Park, with a stop for a box lunch near Pittston and a side trip to view the Old Forge Borehole.

After naming it as the most endangered river in the nation in 2005, American Rivers' continued focus on the Susquehanna and the inflatable dam has been an integral part of the ongoing efforts to stop this project.

If you'd like to join us on the river, or are willing to participate/help in any way, please let me know. The AmRivers folks will need to rent kayaks or canoes, and we're hoping to find some lodging for them ( ~5 people ) on Thursday night. We may also need some help with shuttles, etc.

We look forward to having you join us on the river. Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested in joining/helping us welcome American Rivers to the Wyoming Valley.

DXX (Kayak Dude)

I’d go, but work dictates otherwise. Drat!

From the e-mail inbox Marc…

There's an obit for William Sauer of Lansing, Mich. Any relation of yours? He has a great-grandchild named Gage. Not many kids with that name and I think you have a (grand)son with that name.


Nope, no relation.

And, yes, Gage is not common name.

When I first heard that my first ever grandkid would be named Gage, I liked it. And when I asked how my daughter came up with that name, she said that was the name of the little kid in the movie Pet Sematary. Creepy for sure, but so what?

So one night a couple of years ago, the movie starts in the wee hours of the morning. And after a bit of Gage having died, Gage having been resurrected by completely evil means and Gage being a heinous killer and all…I turned it off. It was too ghoulish, too weird to bare. My grandson isn’t a murderous zombie. Well, not that I know off.

Interestingly enough, the lady that had a big hand in my kidnapping as a small boy lives outside Lansing, Michigan. I actually talked to her son on the telephone in the early 90s. He answered the phone, I identified myself and he said, “No sh*t.” Who knew I had this half-brother lurking out there somewhere? And who would have guessed that he would have even known that I existed?

The reason I called was to enquire about my father. Where was he? Was he even still alive at this point?

He said my father moved to the Seattle area in 1982 and worked for Boeing. And with that, the trail went dead again. I try not to let it, but that still others me from time to time. How could a father never get curious about whatever became of his firstborn? How could 45-plus years pass without a phone call or a letter? It befuddles me. It annoys me. At times, it angers me. Sometimes, oddly enough, it even hurts. But, luckily for us, alcohol numbs it all.

I imagine you didn’t need or want to know that. Oh, well.

Thanks, Dad. Er, for nothing, that is.

‘Til next time.