6-20-2008 Chlorine my ass!

Not exactly breaking news, but here it is.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Knight-Ridder

Sep. 28--Wilkes-Barre City Council can pass all the train speed regulations it wants, but its members can't expect the rail companies to listen.

Warren Flatau, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said as long as rail companies follow federal guidelines on speed and track improvements, they aren't required to follow local regulations.

Even if those regulations call for slower train speeds.

"Local governments are free to pass an ordinance or a law.

However, the railroad does not have to abide by that," Flatau said.

Similar cases have been appealed as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, and the railroads almost always win.

Wilkes-Barre Councilman Phil McCabe proposed limiting train speed in the city to 25 mph, noting safety concerns.

A train traveling...

Yep, back in 1998, former Wilkes-Barre City Councilman, Phil McCabe, was giving the railroads all kinds of hell. And since Councilman McCabe’s run on council predates blogging, not a single person currently polluting the internet took issue with him on his stance on trains, or anything else for that matter.

In 1998, I was in the beginning phases of shock as what little remained of my city further collapsed upon itself at increasingly dizzying rates. Less than two years later, I was outraged, the ill-fated letters to the editors started and then this putrid Web site soon followed. At that time, I doubt that I even knew that Wilkes-Barre had seven council members. And I seriously doubt that I could even name a third of them. But, as history demonstrates, when interested, I’m a very quick learner.

Politics aside, I spent many an hour with Phil McCabe after his time on city council had passed. That time spent with him was all work-related, the details of which I can not share with you. But I’ll tell you this, I liked the guy. There was no wondering what was on his mind. Boy, could he bring it. During our first encounter, he came down the basement steps to find me wearing headphones and hammering holes through his slab. And after I killed the drill and removed the phones, the first thing he said was, “Who you listening to?” Not, how’s my problem look? Who you listening to? So I told him, Fred Williams. And his head rocked back and he got all exasperated and let loose with, “Ah, that no good son of a ____! What’s he talking about?” Um, Tom McGroarty, I told him. “Ah, that no good son of a ____! What the hell did he do now?”

And so it went with Phil McCabe. He wasn’t mean. He just let you know exactly how he felt about a given subject or a given person. Probably not well-suited for politics, but there he was--the former city councilman, who, despite desperately wanting to, could not get rid of either me or what I am specialized to deal with for a living.

Sometimes we’d butt heads over the most inane minutia. And other times we’d be in complete agreement on the finer, unheard of points of running a city of this size. And being a retired councilman, I think he honestly enjoyed chewing the local political fat with someone other than yet another fat politician.

And never have I met a man so completely shaken by his wife‘s sudden passing. Never.

Personally, I wish this guy had served a few more terms, because, I firmly believe he would not have taken much guff from anyone on the local internet. He would have been, for lack of a better word…fun.

Sadly, Phil McCabe passed away on June 15, 2008.

I truly enjoy it when the land line rings. For those of you running with the MySpace crowd, that’s an old-fashioned telephone attached to a house.

Anyway, if the caller can stand my recorded message, then I get to chuckle at their recorded message right before I reach for the delete button. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t even have a telephone. I mean, save for immediate family, I don’t want to talk to most anyone. And if more people thought like me, the phone companies wouldn’t be raking in their gigantic profits for providing little more scattershot services. Then again, if everyone thought like me, we’d be sitting behind the tool shed in our underwear, drinking warm beer and at shooting innocent squirrels. Opal! You hot lil’ bitch!

Anywho, here’s a message I received earlier today. And rather than reach for the delete button, I grabbed my micro recorder.

Hi, my name is Lori (?) Vandermark and I grew up in Nanticoke. That’s why when I saw Paul Kanjorski’s TV ad, I needed to respond.

I find it insulting that Mr. Kanjorski is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. He doesn’t relate to the hard-working middle class. During his time in congress, Kanjorski’s personal fortune has grown to upwards of $6 million. Remember that the next time you see his TV ad.

This call was paid for by Lou Barletta for Congress.

I realize this might upset those of you who happen to be hopelessly partisan myrmidons that lean to the nanny state left, but all of those claims are 100% true.

Kanjorski is out of touch with his constituents, and he has been for quite some time. He sure has made a lot of money since he moved on to Washington D.C. Oh, and so has his immediate family. So, I ask you? What’s to take issue with?

Go ahead. I knew it. Go ahead, do it. What’s that you say? Lou Barletta is a one-trick pony?

Um, that’s Congressman Barletta to you, boy. Now go stand by the mailbox and wait for your check.

Freakin’ democrats!

From the e-mail inbox I was going to call you to make sure that wasn't you that my mom saw on the news today in a bicycle accident. But Michelle XXXXXX confirmed that no, it wasn't you.

So I see it's now illegal to bathe in or "have any physical contact with" the water from the fountain in Public Square. Super. Remind me not to go there on a windy day. I wouldn't want to become a criminal thanks to a droplet carried on a stray breeze. (I suppose I could use the Clinton defense: "I wasn't coming in contact with the water, the water was coming in contact with me!")


Ah, the bike rider that got waxed. Yeah, I get that all the time. Thoughts. E-mails. Even the occasional phone call. Every time a bicycle gets flattened by a speeding car, someone thinks of me. Although, I should note, some people have admitted to getting their hopes up with each new report of a bike rider being killed by a motor vehicle. Dream on, Aerosmith!

I reckon I’m good at what I do. Thing is, I bought my first pricey ten-speed in the early seventies so as to commute from Interfaith Heights on Coal Street to Percy Brown’s in the downtown. And I‘ve been an avid bicyclist ever since. Probably too much so.

But in all that time, my skin has only met the asphalt a total of four times. I should say, my skin was only ground off four times by the dreaded asphalt. And not a one of those incidents were caused by me. Two were caused by sleepwalking pedestrians. And the other two by women who apparently think cars will stall unless they are traveling at twice the posted speed limit. Oh, and unless they keep their eyes half-closed.

But I will say this: Riding on the streets is immensely safer than riding on the sidewalks. Trust me on this. Too many people who walk in an erratic zigzag manner, almost as if they are being shot at. Too many council types who will call for the banning of bicycles every time senior citizens throw themselves under one. Too many cars firing out of driveways. Too many cars launching out of parking garage exits. And way too many blind corners with absolutely no room for error.

And If I do get run over and killed by a speeding car, fret not. Know that I died doing what I truly enjoy the most: bicycling. And if you can’t stand me, hey, buy a keg and celebrate.

As for the water fountain on Public Square, I am seriously annoyed.

First, I am seriously annoyed with the Times Leader reporter, who, when stumped for a story, went and wrote that complete gibberish about the fountain being a health risk. That’s where this all started. That’s when the “No Public Bathing” sign first went up. Asshole!

Secondly, I am seriously annoyed with every city council member who supported this claptrap. What was the vote anyway? 5-0? 4-1? 3-2? I want to know. I want to know who supported this complete sophistry of thought.

Here’s the Citizens’ Voice story in it’s entirety:

W-B City leaving some residents high and dry




 WILKES-BARRE — Only one public pool remains in the city for people to cool off this summer: the indoor Kistler pool on Old River Road.

City officials do not plan to reopen the Coal Street pool and it is now illegal for people to cool off in the fountain on Public Square.

City council passed an amended ordinance on final reading last Thursday night making it unlawful for anyone to bathe or have any physical contact with the water from the fountain.

Anyone who violates the ordinance can be sentenced to pay a fine of $25 to $300 and can even be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 90 days.

Council Vice Chairman Tony Thomas Jr. said every year when it gets hot, city officials have problems with people going in the fountain, which he says is unsanitary and a health hazard.

“There is no chlorine going into that water,” Thomas said.

Mark Bronsburg, owner of Mimmo’s Pizza and Restaurant on Public Square, frequently sees adults and children using the fountain as a free place to beat the heat.

“I don’t mind when little kids use it because besides Kistler pool, there is really nothing for them. You have to assume they don’t have a lot, so for those kids, it’s great,” Bronsburg said. “But when you start seeing the homeless or the ‘Square people’ fully clothed and dirty in it, that ruins it for the kids. It’s sad that the little kids will not be able to use it, but you don’t want to walk down there and see three guys fully dressed laying in there. That’s not good for the city either so I can see their (city officials’) point of view.”

As for the defunct Coal Street pool, Thomas said it would cost millions of dollars to renovate it and hundreds of thousands of dollars to run it and that plan is not feasible.

City council applied for $14 million in funding to renovate Coal Street Park, which includes plans for new playground equipment, upgraded ball fields, a renovated Ice-A-Rama and possibly a splash area similar to one at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Northumberland County, Thomas said.

Clarks Summit architectural firm Highland Associates is working on “design concepts” of the renovated park, said Charles Consagra, a partner in charge. He said he could not release details about the design until the city officials determine what they can fund.

“Everything is up in the air until the prices come in. The right thing to do is to make sure the dollars are available,” Consagra said. “In today’s economy, the prices are going up every day and there is a lot to consider as to what the city can do financially.”

Some residents in Interfaith Heights Apartments on Coal Street said they believe the plans should include reopening the pool.

“It’s bad because there are a lot of kids who want to go swimming, but they can’t and we can’t have pools in here,” said Katie Yelland, a 14-year-old resident of Interfaith Heights Apartments. Since the Kistler pool opened, some children traveled from other municipalities because they said they have nowhere else to swim.

More than 20 people swam in the pool as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and more than 80 people swam on opening day Monday, said site manager David Klevinsky. The majority of the people were low-income and most arrived in the afternoon, he said. The city partnered with the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District to allow the public to swim at the pool.

“They got together with the school district because Coal Street pool closed,” Klevinsky said. “Low-income people do not have these type of conveniences so this provides a venue for them to get in the water and splash around.”

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2115


City council passed an amended ordinance on final reading last Thursday night making it unlawful for anyone to bathe or have any physical contact with the water from the fountain.

Anyone who violates the ordinance can be sentenced to pay a fine of $25 to $300 and can even be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 90 days.

No chlorine? Please, spare me.

I was one of the kids that moved into Interfaith Heights as it was being built, and when Coal Street Park, and the pool, were both brand spanking new and crowded.

Chlorine? Yeah, I suppose that pool water had chlorine being mixed into it? So, you wanna know what else we saw in that pool? Does snot, puke and feces sound like a good start? Do you suppose there was also ample amounts of urine in there for effect?

And that wading pool where the diaper-clad crowd hung-out? Whoa! You don’t want to know. You don’t want to know.

Don’t give me no hollow jive about chlorine. In a city pool you swim in human excrement of all shapes, sizes and sorts. But you pretend that you’re not. And in a river, lake or pond, you swim in the very best that fish and other woodland creatures can excrete. So let’s not get all deranged and to thinking that city-owned pools are second only to hospitals whereas being pristinely clean is concerned. That’s either wishful-thinking or purposely spewed bunkum.

My kids frolicked in that water fountain for years on end, and never once did any of them come down with an incurable form of anything. And these days, my grandkids enjoy doing much the same thing. And yet, none of them has yet to a grow a third eye, or be diagnosed with Bum‘s disease, or whatever Tony Thomas wants to call it.

I know the Coal Street Pool is shot. And I also know it’s going to be very expensive to replace from top to bottom. But who’s fault was that? The kids’ fault? My kids’ fault ? My grandkids’ fault? Or, would that be the fault of the city politicians who accepted gobs of federal funding to build the thing, but then abandoned it in terms of maintenance and security?

When that park first opened, it had fulltime employees charged with it’s upkeep. And it also had overnight security. I know, because my friends and I used to toss eggs at the guards after “lights out” at 11. Then the inflated dome was too expensive and done away with. Then the concession stand was permanently closed. And the maintenance people came and went in trucks, and the slow slide began. And when the security was discontinued, that signaled Coal Street Park’s fast-coming demise. I know that park, and I also know it’s entire history. And the indisputable fact is, the City of Wilkes-Barre allowed it to become the eyesore that it is today.

No chlorine?

Somebody should ask Councilman Tony Thomas where those kids packed into Interfaith Heights and Sherman Hills should go to cool off. Kistler? Yeah, like they’d have a way there, or they’d even know where it is. Sure, Tony. That single mom with the four kids will just pack them up and they’ll make their way to Kistler pool. Yeah. That’s how it’ll happen.

Those four kids with the bone white bedroom walls and little else. The single mom with the government check and no car. The poor folks caught by the numerous safety nets. Those people. Yep, they’ll just pack up and head half across town when their tiny apartments turn into ovens. No pool at Coal Street? No more blacks allowed in the water fountains? No problem, we’ll just ask directions and set off for South Wilkes-Barre where all of the white folks frolic in their backyard, in-ground pools. Not a problem, Tony.


Just show them that list of the names of people who succumbed after cooling off in the water fountain. Just prove to them how dangerous it really is, and then they’ll be happy to make that 8-mile round trip on foot.

As for myself, you can fine me $300 and you can imprison me for 90 days. Besides, the city really needs the money, plus they tell me that the LCCF isn’t all that difficult to escape from. But, if they do lead me away in handcuffs for something as inconsequential as hitting the water fountain with my grandkids, I want somebody on city council to explain to those grandkids of mine why it was that Pop Pop was arrested. I want Tony Thomas to sit and tell my grandkids that he cares about their welfare and I don’t. And it will be at that point that a couple of very young children will first become distrustful of government. Because now matter how you care to slice and dice it, making it illegal to cool off during the summer is government at it’s abject worst.

Anyway, when we feel like hitting the water fountain, we will hit the water fountain. And if they’re really, really, really lucky, we won’t hit it with 5 gallons or so of liquid detergent.

Bubble bath anyone?

Chlorine my ass!

Of course, you know where I’ll be tomorrow. Yes, I’ll be out there on the Susquehanna River as part of RiverFest 2008. Know what? Pretty soon now, they’re going to have to start thinking of me as a veteran, if not, a full-blown River Rat.

Thanks completely to Kayak Dude, this is my 6th such official water adventure. In ‘02 it was Dude and I. In ‘03, Riverfest was cancelled due to extremely high water levels. So, Dude and I put in in Tunkhannock and made our way to Nesbitt Park. And very, very quickly, I should add. ‘04 was the trip made half way by Gage Andrew and myself. Dude did the second leg without us. Very cold, very rainy, and I had to get the than 3-year-old back indoors. In ‘05 it was Dude and me again. We missed the ‘06 event. And last year it was Dude, myself and Mason, my recently departed brother’s son.

So, as you can see, I’ve been at it a while and I want to be considered one of what Dude’s wife called, “…his river friends.”

Um, I’m wondering. Is there acceptable levels of chlorine in the Susquehanna River? Or should city council outlaw this yearly event?

Last year’s trip as a slideshow:

And what's up with Kayak Dude anyway? What you have here is a guy who won't even link to his own documentary.

Hope to see you out there.

David, sorry to hear bout your mom. I read that fine eulogy of yours, although, I didn’t really need to. Thing is, after getting to know you somewhat, it had to go without saying that your mom was indeed a good person.

This just in: Luzerne County judge orders all juvenile criminal defendants to buy his wife’s penile sculptures.

Film at 11...