3-16-2008 Parade day

I was surprised to find the following breaking news blurb on the Citizens’ Voice Web site a couple of days ago.

Breaking News: Grier says he'll withdraw challenge to county borrowing plan

Grier, in an e-mailed letter to local media, cited disparaging remarks, lack of faith in the Pennsylvania court system and lack of majority public support for his efforts as some of the reasons behind his decision to withdraw his appeal.

Grier had appealed a state administrative order dismissing his two complaints against Luzerne County's plans to borrow up to $93.5 million.

And since then, the comments I’ve heard and read from those reacting to this decision have pretty much run the gamut. There’s no doubt that Tim Grier’s ascension into the local political world mocks KISS’ career, in that, there seems to be no middle ground of opinion on his words and efforts. You either love him or you hate him. So be it. Goes with the territory, I suppose.

Being a college student, the thing I always wondered about was his grade point average and the detrimental affect all of this saving the world stuff could have on it. Think about it. If more than three politicos happened to get together with a gavel within arms reach, he was there. So I guess he really was making a sacrifice of some sort. Or simply making things harder on himself.

Until recently, I think he’s been overly sanctimonious, continually holier-than-thou, smugly disrespectful and had taken to incendiary rhetoric as if it’s a birthright or something. Point blank, he got himself knee-deep in pursuits that he was ill-suited for. For one, he’s far too thin-skinned. Funny that the guy who made a name for himself by launching disparaging remarks at practically everyone would now decry the disparaging return fire.

During a recent conversation, the one and only Gortimus Maximus of Gort 42 fame noted that we need people like Tim, i.e., activists, watchdogs and what have you. And with that I wholeheartedly agree. But the problem I had with Tim just as soon as he started out by mudslinging on the internet was that we was wrong far more times than he was ever right. He knows what I’m talking about. That’s why I printed his inflammatory internet posts littered with slanderous misrepresentations, because I knew they could come back and haunt him. And if he was suddenly daring enough to come within two clicks of me, he’d probably admit to as much.

So, is this it? Will there be no more Timmy to kick around from here on out? Got me. All I ask is that if he feels compelled to reengage local politics and suchlike at some later point, that he does away with the holier-than-thou and sophomoric tact and try to conduct himself more like a full-fledged grown-up.

I know that’s asking a lot, but there it is.

Yeah, perhaps you ought not call your radio show callers knuckle draggers day-in and day-out and then casually shrug it off as being part of doing your job.

Yup, maybe you should consider how truly hurtful and incendiary some of your flippant remarks really are, and stop feeling so insulated from the world you mistakenly thought you had ran so far away from.

Yes, in this day and age, maybe it’s not a really good idea to label people as being intellectually inferior scumbags simply because they do not recognize the utter brilliance of your positions on the issues.

Hint, hint.

Man Crashes Car Into Radio Station

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An angry listener may be responsible for a car that crashed into Portland radio station studios Friday afternoon.

The driver backed the car into the studios of Newsradio 750 KXL and Jammin 95.5 on Bancroft Street at about 1 p.m. and then drove away.

Employees said the car came within feet of the receptionist. Workers at the radio station managed to get a license plate number and police were able to track the driver to Vancouver.

I know, I know. It can’t happen here.

Then again,…

From the e-mail inbox Marc: You say there are no anonymous cowards that post on your site. But WHAT would you call them? I have not yet seen one of these chicken shit MFs sign their name to any of their libelous and vile attacks, especially upon me. And I strongly disagree that just because YOU know who they are gives all their crap legitimacy. You're dead wrong Bro, and you know it. It's just not right. Period. But I'm sure nothing will change. -DEF

You are absolutely, 100%, certifiably correct…nothing will change. Not for you and not for anyone else. My site, my rules. There’s the way you think it ought to be. And then there’s me.

From the e-mail inbox A Somali man arrives in Minneapolis as a new immigrant to the United States.

He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says, 'Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country, giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care, and free education!' The passerby says, 'You are mistaken, I am Mexican.'

The man goes on and encounters another passerby. ' Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America !' The person says, 'I not American, I Vietnamese.'

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says, 'Thank you for the wonderful America!'. That person puts up his hand and says, 'I am from Middle East , I am not American!'

He finally sees a nice lady and asks, 'Are you an American?' She says ,'No, I am from Africa !' Puzzled, he asks her, 'Where are all the Americans?'

The African lady checks her watch and says...'Probably at work!!!!!!!"

I effing hear that! Not to worry though. Pretty soon now there won’t be any jobs left at which Americans can toil away and earn a decent living. And then this growing welfare state of ours will implode altogether.

Free health care? You socialists…I’m sorry, you Democrats really make me laugh. Always dangling that “free” carrot when you seek votes. Free to some, but not to others. Not to the few remaining people which would then have to pay for it all.

Oh yeah, I have a few questions for the star-struck Obama groupies salivating away out there. Does it not seem as if his superheated balloon is about to start leaking hot air in a noticeably big way? Do you think “God damn America!” will stick to his coating of reinforced Teflon? Do you think he’s suddenly got a big, big problem?

I do.

From the e-mail inbox Actually I tried to get you a press pass but the Secret Service objected. I have no idea why.

The Northeast Blogging Association is not above accepting gratuities such as tickets to sporting or other events. Even some that Mr. Family may frown upon.

Our new Motto is "We cover politics and we're for sale too."

Maybe Hillary is the smartest women in the world after all. I mean, she didn’t want me anywhere near her, right? Hmmm.

I must warn you, if the Northeast Blogging Association descends into the utter depths of unethical governance, you’re opening yourself up to having an enraged Walter Griffith attending the meetings with a copy of the groups by-laws in hand. And none of your secretive, reclusive bunch wants that, do they?

As we all know by now, I like simplicity. And the way I see it is, local politicking equals free beer for months on end. You see, I’m not for sale. I just like free beer. Simple, isn’t it?

As for the free tickets, the questionable premiums and the like, they should all go to Greg Skrepenak and his inner circle of appointed friends.

But, if the association is getting the majority of the freebies, where do I go to apply for membership?

Please advise.

From the e-mail inbox Dear Mark,
I find it curious and odd that you were privy to information from police officers about “tensions” between the crime watch groups and police and I, the President of the Crime Watch was not.

This indicates to me that what we have been troubled about for a while now, a communication breakdown between us and the police, is truly the case. This is disturbing to me because to the best of my knowledge, there have been no problems I was aware of.

We have great respect for our officers and we would hope they let us know if we are in any way preventing them from doing their jobs. We have certain “Rules of Conduct” that we require our members to follow. They can be viewed on our web site at www.wbcimewatch .org.

Yes, we do patrol the streets for over the past ten years, and if we see something suspicious we call the police and get out of their way. We are then available to the police if they need a description of someone or a witness to go to court, which we do often. We are not the police and we don’t pretend to be. Most Crime Watch groups in the country patrol the streets and many of them actually have two- way radios with their police officers.

In the past year or so we have alerted police to:

Several armed robbers, two with guns at Turkey Hill on George Ave. who was arrested and convicted and two juveniles with bandanas on and knives pulled out attempting to rob patrons of a bar on George Ave.,
A few drug dealers who was then arrested and convicted,
A car thief who stole a Wilkes-Barre police officers brother’s car, he was also arrested and convicted. To name a few.

We were in the right place at the right time. We called the police and they arrested them. Period.

The officers we dealt with did not seem unhappy. Sometimes we even get the thumbs up.

As for us staking out drug houses. ….we get lots of calls on our hot line (208-8900) about drug houses by people who want to remain anonymous. There is a group of us that will simply check it out for a few days to see if there is actually any activity there and get some license plates. We then turn all our info. over to the police. It takes awhile, but they eventually get them.

We can’t believe we have to defend our actios.

We have been kicked around lot lately. We are getting used to it. As for this “independent organization” thing… The city is making it sound like it is something new. Way before I became joined the Crime Watch over 10 years ago, we were Incorporated and had our own By-laws. We are in partnership with the police department to prevent crime. Neighborhood Crime Watch is a joint effort between Law Enforcement and the Community.

Like you , Mark, I did not think much of the Guardian Angels myself until I did a whole bunch of research on them. Scott called me once and I did not return his call but then there was a story in the Voice about them and how they aren’t like a crime watch group because all we do is “look out windows”. I got upset and called him to tell that we are a very active group. I found out that he is a very professional man with lots of knowledge to share about the gangs in encountered in L A. for 20 years. They are big on crime prevention education for kids. There is a 3 month training period and background checks for their members. They have over 5000 members all around the world and have received all kinds of awards from mayors and presidents for the work they do. Just take a look.


Two High- Rises and Parsons Crime Watch which the city was not longer was sending police to expressed interest in finding out more about them, so we invited them to speak. We saw no conflict in this because Captain Lori Riemensnyder had allowed a Guardian Angel as a speaker at one of our Coalition meetings at the police station.

Thanks for listening,
Charlotte Raup

As for the “tensions” you were unaware of, I only write what I know. Although, I wouldn’t get all riled up or anything. As with everything, I’m certain that while some or most of the police officers in this city do appreciate the efforts of the crime watchers, there are likewise some who do not. Stepping on toes, I think they call it. And it can be a reasonable concern whereas active investigations are concerned.

As you already know, I laud the crime watchers for the countless hours they have devoted to making Wilkes-Barre a safer and cleaner place. With that said, it goes without stating that the Neighborhood Watch as it was originally intended did not encourage average folks to get to patrolling the streets, or conducting stake-outs independent of the police. “Assuming the role of the police,” as per my most recent post.

Here in Wilkes-Barre, that precedent--assuming the role of the police--has already been set. And that’s not for me to decide whether it’s a necessary function of volunteers, but it is what it has become. And while there is nothing menacing or disturbing in what our local crime watchers do, never would I allow myself to be stopped, questioned, interviewed or detained in any way by any homegrown member of any anti-crime group simply because they have no legal power of policing or arrest. And, if and when a crime watcher mistakenly attempted to detain anyone ala the Guardian Angels, they would be stepping over a line they dare not cross. Truth be told, the localized version of the Guardian Angels looks like the cast of that reality show The Biggest Loser.

Now, with that said, why is it again that I should be content with having citizens’ groups, trained or otherwise, taking it upon themselves to patrol the downtown, and interview, detain and, or make citizens arrests? I don’t care how extensively they are screened, or how many seminars they attend; they do not belong to the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, meaning there is little or no oversight by law enforcements professionals. And the very first time they try to play pretend patrol cop with me and mine, they had better be prepared for a serious verbal and/or physical tussle.

What if I up and form my own posse? What if I get the old midnight crew back together (which specialized in busting heads that obviously needed busting) and we hit the streets with nifty-looking hats on? Since our charter would clearly state that we’re there solely for making the city safer, do we automatically command respect? And if we then conduct monthly meetings and get an award or two from a mayor or two somewhere, can we not then politicize things when someone ups and objects to our very presence?

And why is it that the Guardian Angels are so adamant about patrolling the downtown, which is more than capably patrolled by the police department, and the extra officers paid for by the Business Improvement District monies. If what they were really worried about was crime in the city, wouldn’t they be much more interested in camping out at Sherman Hills, Cherry’s Bar, or very, very South River Street?

Truth be told, by patrolling the downtown they would receive maximum visibility. But as for combating actual crime, their overall effect on crime would be negligible at best. They are little more than self-aggrandizing pretenders in this case. And as far as I’m concerned, they are not welcome in Wilkes-Barre. But enough with them.

Look, I vehemently objected to the idea of taking police officers off the streets to patrol the halls of our high schools. And in a city with some legitimate crime concerns, I’d rather have our cops out there on the streets than attending monthly meetings with every far-flung citizen‘s group.

And, quite honestly, I don’t think that applying political pressure--press releases and petitions--to add legitimacy to your group is the way to go. If the e-mail system doesn’t work for your group, sit down with the police and the administration of the city and hammer out a way to make both sides happy with the situation. Because, in my opinion, creating the impression that an administration that has hired something approaching thirty new police officers in a relatively few short years is both foolhardy and patently unfair.

There’s a legitimate place and a true need for crime watchers in this city, as well as every other city. And if the administration needs to change the modus operandi, I don’t think that’s necessarily a vote against the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch. I think all involved need to tread carefully so as to not cause a total fracture of what was, is and what could be even more harmonious and productive in the future.

Good luck with all of that.

Ready to roll

Okay, let‘s give you the perspective of someone who participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, since we all know what it’s like to stand idly by and watch it roll on by us, while wondering why we didn‘t wear the thermals.

Here’s the timeline:

Lined up by 1 PM.

Parade started at 2 PM.

Put the truck in gear at 2:41 PM.

Done and out of there by 3:22 PM.

First of all, I thought I’d be bored, which was certainly not the case. No, not when you’ve got to avoid running into the flatbed just a few feet in front of you, toss candy and coloring books to the hordes of kids, try not to kill the overzealous parents in hot pursuit of candy for their kids, try not to crush the fools darting across the parade route, trying to gab with friends and the like along the way and trying not to become totally discombobulated while driving a vehicle armed only with an automatic transmission for the first time in a decade or so. I kept reaching for the stick that wasn’t there, and then found myself becoming momentarily confused by my doing so. I kept reaching for the nonexistent clutch with my left foot. Further befuddled, I even tried to double-clutch an automatic a couple of times. Yikes.

Directly behind us was the big Leprechaun balloon brought by the good folks from Mohegan Sun. And as it got windier and windier there for a spell, I wondered why they would have such a large inflated balloon hung onto by only a gaggle of young women. Needless to say, as the steady breeze grew to something resembling a real wind, the balloon seemed to take on a somewhat devious mind of it’s own until it finally smacked down with a mighty thud on top of my employer‘s newest vehicle.

Be afraid

Note to future parade organizers: Men are much stronger than women.

Well, Republican men, that is.

We were practically assaulted by a Wilkes-Barre police officer when he launched at us with enough escape velocity to bring down Skylab a single Caramel Cream that may or may not have knocked an eye out. I forgot to check if it left a dent in the truck, but it needs to be noted that I threw it at him first. Jeez, next time I’ll try tossing him the Tootsie Rolls. God!

In retrospect, perhaps a pack of Razzles would have been more appropriate. I dunno.

Dude looks like Elvis

Now, we all realize full-well that I’m an idiot, but I sure went and proved it when we arrived at Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters just a few feet removed from Midtown Village. The throng of boisterous, alcohol-driven Obama supporters were holding aloft Obama signs just outside my window and screaming to me to honk my horn in support of their newest political deity. So I did as they asked. And when they let out with a cheer, my hand extended from the truck’s cab holding a rather large Bush/Cheney campaign button. And as the sudden look of shock and dismay spread across all of their youngish faces, spare none, my entire day was made. And then they got to shouting things that would make even Kevin Lynn blush.

Oh, and former Times Leader reporter, Mike McNarney, managed to snap a picture of me doing what I do best…getting a rise out of people. Sorry and all, but it was just too good to resist. By the way, what’s he doing here? Last I saw, he was glad-handing with every single presidential candidate at the Iowa caucus’. Um, does anyone know how to spell…I’ll sound it out…cock eye?


Anyway, Wilkes-Barre’s annual St. Paddy’s Day parade is not near as big as Scranton’s, nor does it really try to be. And while Scranton’s had the added attraction of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to draw thousands of well-wishing onlookers from every which place, Wilkes-Barre’s did not. And that’s perfectly fine with me no matter what disparaging and vile bunkum Kevin Lynn and Nancy Kman have to say about the state of Wilkes-Barre’s parades, or the overall state of Wilkes-Barre.

If what we truly wanted was to be known for was excessive drinking, vomiting, stripping half-naked and getting arrested in the streets, I seriously doubt it’d be hard to accomplish as much. Scranton’s got their version of Mardi Gras, while Wilkes-Barre is reduced to conducting a very well-attended and robust family-friendly event. And that’s perfectly fine with us. At least, with me it is.

The worst of part of participating in a St. Patrick’s Day parade rather than watching one roll on by?

My aim while trying to toss candy over the steering wheel. All too often, it bounced off of the roof of the cab and went astray. I did manage to knock over a guy’s coffee. Oh, and I did hit that little cutie sitting there innocently in her stroller right in the middle of her forehead. Oops.

And the best part of participating in a St. Patrick’s Day parade rather than watching one roll on by?

I think they call it a heater.

‘Til next time.

The reviewing stand