11-4-2007 Nothing else matters

Get this, I ran down to Curry Donut this morning, when lo-and-behold, Luzerne County Sheriff, Barry Stankus, waited on me. And my coffee was perfect. And his uniform was clean, his apron was folded perfectly and everything.

Okay. I admit it, I made that up. It’s not true.


Since we are but days away from voting again, I’ve been following the latest anonymous attacks on various and sundry local blogs. Entertaining, they are. Stupid, insidious and libelous, but entertaining just the same. It’s not the authors of the blogs spitting the phlegm, mind you. It’s the anonymous readers who are posting the laughable swill.

Here’s my absolute favorite, a comment posted in response to the big, big Murray building fire up this way.

ThrowLeightonOut said…

I wonder if Leighton paid someone to burn that building so he could do something about it before the election.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Tom Leighton is a firebug. Yeah, you’ve nailed it. Now take two hundred sleeping pills and call me in the morning, you hapless jackass.

While we’re given to mindless speculation, and since that fire was obviously an act of arson, did it occur to anyone that the fire might have been set for the purposes of embarrassing Tom Leighton right before the election? Duh!

See how easy that is, making sh*t up.


Here’s another:

Walter said…

I have been to many a City Council meeting in the past to fight to have this building demolished and was always told there was no money. I think the City Council should have demanded this building be removed and allocated the funds to have it done. Now there is a rush to have it removed. If the City would have made the building secure in the first place and sent the bill to Tom Murray as a lien. This do nothing City Council needs to be more aware of the dandgers in this City.

You are suggesting that the city did absolutely nothing about this building, which you know to be totally untrue. Another thing, how do you “demand” that the owner (who claims to be penniless) remove a property of that size? If he’s as broke as he says, huffing and puffing amounts to headlines and little else.

Also, the city is going to use CDBG monies to rid us of this eyesore. Money that could have been spent on the neighborhoods you’ve been bellowing about. So, if the city had spent a million or a half million tearing it down, you would have decried the spending of the CDBG bucks on it, right?

And let’s cover this ‘making the building secure’ nonsense, shall we? Here’s a fact for you: You can board up all of the windows and all of the doors, but as they have proven many times over, the homeless will peel one back and gain entry. They do it every time and nobody seems to care except the people that live across the street, or right next door.

Remember, I’m the guy that toured the Hotel Sterling, the Steam Heat building and the Murray complex and posted pictures on the internet. When it comes to these indigents, there is no such thing as a secure building. And that’s a whole other issue we can argue about at some other time. If it were up to me, I’d have my cops swinging clubs at these people every single time they were caught trespassing. You’re cold? Yeah, so get a job washing pots and rent a room. Thump!

Yet another:

A Big Fat Slob said…

Quite a coincidence that Fast Eddy always seems to be handing out big checks around the state just as we approach election time.

I heard this one on talk radio, too. Something about Ed Rendell’s coming here with a big, fat check in hand being an election week ploy.

Here’s the way I look at it: What’s the biggest difference between election week ‘07 and election week ‘03? Anyone? Care to take a shot at it?

Well, back in ‘02 and ‘03, the state was refusing to release various funds to this city’s administration because of the city’s deteriorating financial situation. As then Secretary of the Office of the Budget, Robert A. Bittenbender, put it, “…due to the City’s ongoing fiscal and administrative difficulties…any prior correspondence from the Commonwealth which may have indicated a possible approval of the project is withdrawn and is now null and void.”

In other words, the state was not giving a plug nickel to an administration that was beyond reckless with regard to how it continually mishandled it’s finances. Remember that $10.5 million in overdue debts that had to be addressed by the then new mayor in January of ‘04?

Fast forward to ‘07 and the current governor, Ed Rendell, has proven to be Wilkes-Barre’s greatest friend. Now, ask yourself why that is. Why? Because he promised to help Pennsylvania’s smaller cities, and there’s absolutely no doubt he believes in what Tom Leighton is trying to do here. If he didn’t believe, none of those oversized checks would have made their way here in Rendell’s speeding bus.

In four short years, we went from one governor calling our then mayor “inept,” and now another governor going well out of his way to help Wilkes-Barre. And to whom should the credit go for that? Yep, there is only one possible answer…Tom Leighton.

Yes sir, if the city was still way out of whack financially, Ed Rendell would not have come to Wilkes-Barre with financial assistance in tow.

And that’s a fact.

One more:

Walter said…

Did anyone find it strange that the City Council and Mayor have found time to be at the press conference with Gov Rendell at the Murray Complex but a week ago they didnt have any time to attend a Forum with the taxpayers? I think this is exactly the reason they all need to be voted out of office on November 6th. This type of contempt for the taxpayers must stop.

Strange? No. Is it fair to chastise them for skipping a debate? Yes it is.

Although, it should be noted that most of the challengers failed to attend said debate, not just the incumbents. And, “contempt?” Is it really contemptible to skip a debate that the voters themselves skip? Apparently, the great majority of the candidates in question do not think these sorts of events are prerequisites to getting themselves elected. And for that, you would have them flogged at the polls?

And, quite frankly, I think I might have nodded off listening to what the attendees might have had to say. Seriously, the incumbents would laud their records, while the wannabes would point to the incumbent’s records as proof of some sort of collusion, malfeasance, conspiracy and/or the start of some unpronounceable disease.

Consider this threadbare, tired ‘downtown versus the neighborhoods’ point of contention.

The mayor says we had to start somewhere, while his vacuous detractors shout in unison, “You shouldn’t have started there!”

Wow! Gee whiz, great debate.


Listening to you, I’m left to assume that when the governor comes to town to hold a press conference, the city’s elected leaders should snub him by not attending. (???)


And this one…this one had me staring at my morning newspaper in stunned disbelief.

Cronauer, Griffith trade barbs in District A

With the election just six days away, the battle for city council in District A in South Wilkes-Barre has gotten bitter and personal.

Rick Cronauer, the Democratic candidate for city council in District A, said he is tired of Republican Walter Griffith’s personal attacks. On his Web site and his campaign fliers, Griffith said Cronauer has a son-in-law who is the mayor’s assistant. Griffith is wrong, Cronauer said. Cronauer’s daughter Jessica is not married to community revitalization coordinator Greg Barrouk, but they are engaged.

“Walter Griffith has personally attacked me for several months and it has been something we have chosen to ignore. Walter has crossed the line and erroneously commented about my family,” Cronauer said. “I do not have a son-in-law (at city hall), but will be honored and proud to accept Greg Barrouk as one.”

Griffith said he never “defamed” Cronauer or his daughter. He said he wants the public to know about the relationship between Cronauer and Barrouk because his goal is to try to end nepotism and cronyism at city hall. Like other elected officials, Cronauer is “connected to the network,” Griffith said.

“I have not erroneously commented on his family. I stated the facts that Mr. Cronauer is directly involved with the city administration through Mr. Barrouk,” Griffith said.

Weak, Walter. Very effing weak.

And, “connected to the network?” That’s beyond weak. That’s lame.

To be blunt, this is how people get themselves punched out, by making a campaign issue out of someone’s daughter, who has absolutely nothing to do with any of this politicking and whatnot. In fact, if Rick Cronauer went totally berserk on your ass, I’d have to say you probably had it coming.

Bloggers are reputed to be the most reckless of the bunch, but never once did I use the photo-shopped pictures of Tom McGroarty’s wife and daughter that people sent to me via the e-mail inbox. Not once. Some of them were real side-splitters, but I had no quarrel with Tom McGroarty’s family. What I took issue with was his handling of the city, so never did I ever consider even using their names on these pages of mine.

Sorry, Walt, but some things are simply off-limits, a lesson that you missed somewhere along the way. Greg Barrouk works as a mayoral assistant, so he’s used to hearing the catcalls from the critics. He’s fair game and he knows as much. But the undeniable fact of the matter is his finance should have never become part of any political debate. I actually met her once, real cute kid.


And then we’ve got another one of these upstart bloggers (whom I will not link to) that appear every time an election is bearing down on us. You know the type, libel and slander delivered to you by way of complete anonymity. The stuff of real pussies.

Becuase, Walter had the decency to inform the elctorate that Rick Cronauer’s daughter has an out-of-wedlock child with Mayor Leighton’s assistant, Greg Barrouk. Mr. Cronauer should be mad at himself for concealing this fact and for stating he is a man of integrity. Because, it is apparent that Rick Cronauer is not a man of integrity, he is a man who is attempting to decieve his neighbors.

Rick Cronauer complains in The Citizen’s Voice Story, “I am tired of Walter’s personal attacks…”

Hey Rick, you are the one who decided to make it personal by trying to move your entire family into City Hall. We are sick of parasites like you at City Hall. Walter isn’t making it personal, he kept it political by pointing it out to the people whose vote you are asking for. You made it personal by having the family ties to the sleaze that is the current Wilkes-Barre administration.

Rick Cronauer should be mad at himself. Better yet, just go away Mr. Cronauer, we are trying to improve Wilkes-Barre.

An “out-of-wedlock child?” What, is this anonymous coward still stuck in the stone ages? What, is a public stoning clearly called for in this case? Allah H. Christ, man! Get it together, will you? Pansy.

Hey Rick, contact this anonymous prick’s internet host, learn their identity and sue them back to the stone ages. There’s no need for this subterfuge, this worthless filth, so be the first in our area to put this sort of libelous claptrap out of business.

C’mon Rick…sue the prick.

I was sitting here watching the dreaded video advertising box the other night, when the answering machine was handling what I mistakenly thought was a call from a telemarketer. On and on and on it went, annoying my ass, when suddenly, Tom Leighton’s name came up. Startled, I turned and stared at the thing while the voice coming through said something or other about voting for Leighton and then the thing went dead.

Anywho, before I could play the message back, Wifey cleared the machine’s memory, so that was that.

Oh, yeah. Since we‘re covering stuff that is obviously inappropriate, we’d be amiss if we didn’t touch upon the following:

Stets makes her presence known

Linda Stets, the Republican mayoral candidate in Wilkes-Barre, made quite a scene Wednesday at a Gov. Ed Rendell press conference announcing $750,000 in state funding to help demolish the charred Murray Realty Co. building in the city’s North End.

According to multiple witnesses, Stets attempted to stand with elected leaders and city officials behind a podium where Rendell would soon address the crowd. When Bridget Guinta, the city’s administrative coordinator, asked Stets to join the rest of the audience, she refused.

Eventually, a city police officer intervened at the request of Mayor Tom Leighton and Stets stepped back.

Stets, who is married to minority Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban, insisted she should be allowed to join the elected officials because Maryanne Petrilla was among the group, the witnesses said. Petrilla is the county’s current controller, but also is a Democratic candidate for commissioner.

Leighton, Solicitor Bill Vinsko, fire Chief Jacob Lisman and members of city council stood beside Rendell as he announced the funding. Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak also stood with the group. Urban, who was in attendance, did not stand behind Rendell.

Stets made it a point to introduce herself to Rendell.

You know, for someone who is promising to forever eradicate crime in this city, she sure generates a lot of police activity all by her lonesome.

First, she was escorted out of a council meeting for filibustering very loudly. Then it was the cops investigating her removing other candidate’s yard signs. And now she’s trying to crash the governor’s press conference. A bit troubling, perhaps?

Is this what we want in a mayor, someone who will do as they please when they please? Someone who will do as they see fit, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it? Does this troubling behavior remind you of anyone?

Think back to about five years ago. Remember? Remember when he had a mayor who lived and died by the my-way-or-the-highway mentality? Remember all of that?

And do you remember it’s devastating effects on the city’s appearance, infrastructure and finances?

Do we really need another know-it-all, Damn the Torpedoes! sort of mayor? Another tyrant, if you will.

I’m of the opinion that we wouldn’t need her to protect us from the criminals, we’d need the cops to protect us from her.

And do we honestly believe that kinder and gentler council meetings would result if she were to be elected? Do you want to sit there in front of the microphone criticizing her administration when the blowback is probably going to come like gale force winds? If you do, you might want to hire a bodyguard first.

And I’m deadly serious. This lady scares me, and she should scare the lot of you. Yet, as I pedal my way through my beloved city each and every day, I keep encountering those red “Stets for Mayor” yard signs here and there. And that suggests to me that this city has a disproportionate number of cases of mental illness. Seriously, why would you support a person that has clear issues with self-restraint, a threadbare resume, no job and promise after promise after promise that will not materialize do to a well-documented lack of funding?

I saw her latest television ad in which she promises to be “a full-time mayor.” Which, quite frankly, is an egregious insult to my vast, vast intelligence. This oft-repeated lie from city Republicans that Tom Leighton is not a full-time mayor is the biggest terminological inexactitude, the most offensive disinformation campaign ever to escape the lips of the liars. That’s right, liars.

If someone comes a glad-handing and tells you that Tom Leighton is a part-time mayor, they are lying to you, and that‘s that. If the guy was a part-time mayor, he wouldn’t get so visibly frustrated on so many occasions. The truth of the matter is, he has totally devoted himself to improving his city, our city. He works long, long hours all too frequently. And on more than one occasion, I have told him to take an entire Saturday off, curl up with a beer or two, and watch some college football. Good advice on my part, but regularly ignored by him.

Having once worn a suit, carried a briefcase and devoted myself to a demanding business, I know firsthand what burnout feels like and how easily it can be arrived at. And while business demands are what they are, a little rest and relaxation every now and again can go a long way to refreshing oneself and reinvigorating that dedication to the greater cause.


Beware of the liars.

And this needs to be said. Regardless of what happens when we vote just a few more hours from now, be very, very leery of candidates who promise to cut the salaries of our future elected leaders. This is not about Tom Leighton, City Council, or anyone else currently toiling away at City Hall. This is about the future.

I have been approached on many occasions by people who thought I would make a good city councilman. They encouraged me to run based on my broad knowledge of the issues facing this and many other small cities. They’re all freaking crazy, but that’s a whole other topic.

In all honesty, there is no way that a council person deserves a generous taxpayer-supported pension or health benefits based on their part-time commitment to the city. I know their phones ring off the hook all too often, but so do the telephones of a restaurant managers. It’s a part of the job, so there it is. Either deal with it, or quit.

With that having been said, I would not run for a council seat if there was little or no reward for doing so. No, I don’t need the pension, I don’t need the healthcare or any other perk that may go along with the job. But I do not believe the city would be better served if filling an elected office in this city amounted to candy-striping.

And mayor? Like so many before her, Linda Stets says she’ll cut the mayor’s salary to $50,000. I really hate to rain on her most clueless of parades, but I could earn more than that managing a high-volume restaurant, or driving a truck in excess of 26,001 pounds empty. And I can earn more than that protecting structures from subterranean termites.

My point is, as the cost of living escalates as it always does, I don’t want to arrive at the point where qualified professionals become reluctant to seek elected offices only because the aggravation that it entails clearly, clearly outweighs the benefits.

You want me to sit on city council for $5,000 and nothing else? Kiss off!

$10,000? Now we’re talking.

Because, you see, if you want the best, if what you want is certifiably capable leadership, there are associated costs attached. And in this day and age, to suggest that managing a troubled third-class city should be a volunteer undertaking is world-class stupidity on display. I don’t care what the mayor of Scranton earns. Nor do I care what any other mayor earns. In an increasingly dynamic and challenging world, if we want the absolute best and brightest seeking elected offices in this city, we need to make it worth their while.

Linda Stets claims that, if elected, she’ll immediately cut the mayor’s salary to $50,000 and hire a new firefighter. That’s all well and good and I wish we could afford to hire 10 more firefighters. But, that said, I’d much rather have a capable, well-compensated mayor than a single new dedicated firefighter. Because, if the mayor isn’t capable in the first place, nothing else matters. And our recent, painful history proves as much.

In my mind, if we cannot attract the best and brightest, nothing else matters. The fact is, while the unemployed political wannabes continue to promise to cut salaries, their lack of experience is on display for all to see. If you can out-earn the mayor while working a 50-hour week elsewhere, and where you’re not on call 24 hours a day, and where people will not be invited to question your performance 24 hours a day, then why in the hell would you want to be the mayor?

Give it some thought. I promise, it won’t hurt at all. Well, that is, unless you’re a city Republican wannabe.

Remember, if the leadership sucks, nothing else matters.

Vote early. Vote often.

Somethin’ like that.

‘Til next time.