11-22-2008 What’s not to like?

This just in…

From the e-mail inbox Officer: What have you got on the radio?

Dispatcher: Very broken-up sir, lots of squelch, but you can make out a few phrases.

Officer: Any of it tie in to what I'm looking at on Thompson St?

Dispatcher: Uh, I'm sorry to say, yes.

Officer: Damnit! Tell the Desk on my way back, there's nothing I can do here anyways, Feds got it down to their jurisdiction only.

Dispatcher: Are we going to continue to search for Mr.Cour?*

Officer: Until the Feds step on our toes about Mark Cour, we keep searching. Unit 4 heading back to base, over and out.

Dispatcher: 10-4

*Disappearance of Mark Cour recorded by Wilkes-Barre Police"

Times Leader front page article:

W-B Online's Mark Cour disgruntled about Election results takes Thompson St. City block "Hostage"

Citizen's Voice article:

Wilkes-Barre resident takes city block Hostage.

Thompson St has been taken over and organized into it's own "Third Party" by Marc Cour and the rest of the residents in this quaint North-End area. By blocking cars of the residents all around the block and fencing in the end of the street with barbed and razor wires. Essentially blocking the entrance from N. Pennsylvania besides the pile up of cars, is also an elaborate web of Claymore charges and Motion Guns. A two day stand-off with the City Police Force led into the State Police becoming involved, then shortly thereafter The FBI stepped in and has taken over the confrontation.

The event is still in progress after eight days.

"I'm afraid the Feds will want ATF here if this goes on any longer.", said W-B Police Capt. Al Gribble.

According to AP news, Commander Harold Baltz of the ATF's Northeast Division has even gone as far to remark, "Heh, Heh...Well, we certainly learned a valuable lesson in Waco didn't we? No it shouldn't come down to that again if we get the call, it's up to Mr. Cour.

After a charge went off to close to a transformer, the FBI succeeded in knocking out to his residence. Eventually setting the home ablaze, and spreading, Mr. Cour strapped with what appeared to be some kind of explosive bricks, approached the blockade to receive fire hoses and tools from Wilkes Barre Fire Dept Chief Sam Fox..

The house was extinguished with the help of the other residents in the block and minimal damage sustained to the house. The hoses rolled back up and the tools returned to the Fire Dept., Mr.Cour was asked by FBI if that was enough, and he promptly replied, "You Just set my house on fire and cut service off to me and ask if I had enough? Heh...YOU don't know me pal!"

He had went inside another residence and had not been seen until Thursday when he made the Third Party Separatists Movement Speech exclusively to WNEP'S Ryan Leckey. Under Tight scrutiny, the residence of the "TPB" or third party block, let Ryan and a camera man through. It was broadcast later in the evening on 16, and rebroadcast later on in the evening.

Because of the crowds gathering due to publicity, Mr. Cour is assumed to have "slipped out" of his area and mixed in with the crowds. Two days and still no word over the radio from the residents or Mr. Cour.

What most of Northeast Pa. wants to know is:

Where is Mark?

And I don't give a rat's hoolygrag, Football is not a legitimate excuse.

We await your Command, oh wise of the Wise!

-Hope everything is well-

-Tom Twanger

Dude, you’re weird. Much like me. Imagine what could have been had we become drug-addled like the rest of them. Ah, what I wouldn’t do for some purple micro-dot right about now. And how could it hurt, since we’re surrounded by those sucking down copious amounts of purple Kool-Aid?

In the immortal words of Axel Rose, “I’ve got something that’s been building up inside…for so f>king long!!! They won‘t get me. They can‘t touch me. I‘m fu>king innocent!”

Remember, now, I grew up in the long shadow of the world’s largest nuclear submarine base during the height of the Cold War. And being that the Boy Scouts stressed preparedness and suchlike (especially in the event of an unexpected mushroom cloud appearing on the horizon), who’s to say I don’t have a well stocked subbasement and a series of tunnels under the modest adobe?

Need some iodine pills?

Where is Mark?

Well, whether you want to hear it or not, Mark is two weeks removed from the fantasy football playoffs getting underway. Mark has been very busy at work, as well as thoroughly disgusted with said work of late. And after the big national election throwback, I figured I’d let everyone else prognosticate, essentially making fools of themselves before the keys to the country were even handed over to the all-knowing knower of all things worth knowing, President-elect Obama. And, well, it’s been fun to read and listen to.

According to the one side, Obama is evil personified, only he’s practicing a distinctly different brand of evil than that practiced by Dr. Evil himself, George W. Bush.

Then there’s the other side of the equally troubling equation, the one where Obama is worshipped without ever having done anything of note. In this respect, he’s kind of like having the number one draft pick all signed and ready to play some football. He’s either a future hall of fame legend, mediocre at best, or a total bust. You just don’t know yet. But it’s fun to watch all of the fawning.

Hosanna, haysanna, sanna, sanna, ho, sanna hay, sanna hosanna. Hey J.C., J.C. you’re alright by me. Sanna ho, sanna hay, superstar.

And that’s from the “unbiased” press.

What’s not to like?

Now that the campaign is over, he’s sure stepped six or eight dozen steps back from that uniting-the-entire-world nonsense, hasn’t he? I’m not sure why so many unthinking chumps bit on that worthless, tasteless bit of rotted chum, but they did and they did so in droves.

Another reason for the respite has been the nonstop parade of the-sky-is-falling news hitting the airwaves and print every day. The faster it comes, the more I shake my head in absolute disbelief.

I don’t want to hear any mindless guff about over-compensated CEOs, unchecked greed, or BIG (pick an industry). The blame for all that currently ails us lies with Congress. In an overvalued nutshell, they break it with their shortsighted tomfoolery passing as governance, and then they set about to fix it with their shortsighted tomfoolery again somehow passing as governance. What a program.

They wanted change? Really? Then how is it that they returned one Paul Kanjorski to the flailing mix of ineptitude, a guy who has been in bed with an industry he was charged to oversee? Change? Yeah, well, Kanjo has certainly changed his tune. But why shouldn’t he being that he is one of the people personally responsible for the entire sub-prime debacle?

Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? Sub-prime loans? On and on it goes, where the ineptitude bordering on criminality stops, nobody knows. And isn’t it wonderful to know that they crashed our entire set of financial cards by way of more of their shortsighted social engineering? And for what? For votes, that‘s what.

Where’s Mark?

Markie is sitting here in stunned disbelief. Markie is somewhat peeved. Markie is all too tired of being told how the little guys like us are the people that make America work by the big, big all-knowing guys who then do their level best to make America into something that is practically unworkable.

It’s all becoming a really, really, really bad joke. Think about it. We live in the shadow of two nuclear reactors, a third is about to be added, yet we’re staring down the barrel of escalating electricity rates. Figure that one out. We’re facing escalating electric bills, while the regulators figure out the best way to transmit the newly generated electricity right out of the state.

And Pennsyltucky? Well, all is apparently well in this penal colony passing as a functioning, forward-looking state. We’ve got slot machines, Quinto, and gambling tables surely on the way. And once those riverboat casinos open, living here will be to kill for. What’s not to like?

Nationally, the whole thing is going belly-up, while the nitwits demanding same-sex unions curry favor with politicians. And the bible thumpers demanding their self-styled version of repression curry favor with politicians. And the credit card companies, fresh off their mass raping of hard-working Americans, are now currying favor with politicians in advance of a hoped-for “bailout.”

The green freaks, well, they want the stuff we can barely afford as it is to be even more prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, the publicly traded companies eschew the needs of their customers and employees to curry favor with the blessed shareholders. And while the howling peaceniks pursue an end to our numerous military forays, the dirty little secret is the coming economic decline will necessitate a proportionate military decline. Chill out, people. In a couple of years, we won’t be able to afford the luxury of a military.

I ask again, what’s not to like?

And how does this work? You ship our well-paying manufacturing jobs to Mexico, Canada, China, Taiwan and freaking South Timbuktu, yet, when you’re facing an impending bankruptcy, you come to the federal government, in effect, you come to me looking for a robust bailout? I can’t build a new Ford, but I’m expected to buy a fleet of new Fords, and then I’m expected to subsidize the future existence of Ford?

What’s not to like?

Oh, and the latest here in Wilkes-Barre is that the City of Wilkes-Barre, as well as the City of Scranton, is going to pump $3 million each into the saving of the Boscov’s chain. Okay, I follow the logic. Department stores in downtown environments are about as common as politicians who know what they’re on about, so we’ve got something unique going on here and need to preserve it. Okay.

In addition to the foot traffic these stores draw, they also generate plenty of mercantile, wage and property taxes for the city’s coffers, so they are an important component whereas getting these downtowns cranking again is concerned. And whether people know it or not, Boscov’s in Wilkes-Barre has seen a spike in sales since 2004, since we stopped neglecting the needs of our long-dormant downtown.

Now, here’s the troubling part.

From today’s Citizens’ Voice:

Luzerne County may chip in $3 million to help keep the Boscov’s department chain afloat.

County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said a motion approving a $3 million loan to Boscov’s will be on Wednesday’s meeting agenda. She said she supports a 120-day loan “to help Al Boscov keep open his department stores” in Wilkes-Barre and Sugarloaf Township.

The county would loan community development funds that come from the federal government.

“This loan would be repaid within four months with interest and would not come from the general fund or add to the current county debt problems,” Petrilla said.

Excuse me?!?

I understand the immediacy of the developing situation, but come on!

Luzerne County is hardly in a position to be loaning any monies to any entity. Last I heard, the county was facing tens of millions in budgetary shortfalls, trying hard not to lay off it’s employees, and is in hoc up to the tippity top of it’s rotunda dome. I know it’s supposedly a loan. Then again, there is no guarantee that the $3 million in question will ever be paid back. And in that event, the county would then have $3 million less in community development funds with which to work.

When austerity is clearly called for, we’re getting more of the same…rampant spending. If there’s anything at all left in the threadbare coffers, the folks over by the river will figure a way to dole it out. $5 million for a shuttered train station. Tens of millions for a dozen or so juvenile jail cells. Screw it! What’s another $3 million being tossed about? It’s there, so let’s spend it. And make no mistake about it, until it’s repaid in full, it’s as good as spent.

So, what’s not to like?

Consider this intermodel boondoggle. Yes, it’s a much-needed addition to the downtown. Yes, 700-plus additional parking spots, plus the enhanced parking on Public Square are going to infuse even more life into our suddenly hopping downtown.

But, the incessant delays this project has suffered have escalated the costs of the project far in excess of what it was originally budgeted for. The first glaring mistake was a flawed architectural design that just didn’t cut it, and from there it’s been one long delay in the making. Meanwhile, the prices of both steel and concrete, among many other things, have escalated far, far higher than what they were when the ground was broken on this project many moons ago.

As I type, the big blue steel girders are being hoisted skyward by the enormous crane, much like the cost of this project has done over the past couple of years. And in a cash-strapped city that cannot afford cost overruns of any sort, I’m left to wonder, what’s not to like?

I’m still trying to figure this one out.

From the Times Leader:

SCRANTON – A federal jury on Tuesday awarded city fire house activist Denise Carey $67,000 in her civil rights suit against the city and Mayor Tom Leighton, but Carey says the citizens of Wilkes-Barre are the real victors in the case.

“This definitely was not about the money. It was about the principle,” a teary-eyed Carey said moments following the jury’s verdict in federal court in Scranton. “This is a win for the community. Now no one has to be afraid of speaking up. That was the point of this.”

The eight-member jury deliberated for a little more than four hours before finding that Leighton had retaliated against Carey by seeking attorney fees in connection with her failed bid to overturn his 2004 decision to close an East Northampton Street fire station.

The panel, which heard testimony over five days, found Leighton’s actions in seeking the fees and critical comments he made about Carey to the media violated her First Amendment right to free speech. It awarded her $15,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress, $2,000 for lost income and $50,000 in punitive damages against Leighton.

First, if the City sought the legal fees from the presiding judge, and the judge awarded them, how does that decision translate into wrongdoing on the part of anyone employed by the City? He retaliated? Um, no, the judge awarded those fees.

Secondly, someone, somehow violated her First Amendment right to free speech? Really? That’s interesting. It’s interesting when you consider that the activist herself became a household name during this entire tawdry and sufferable affair. And the firehouse affair received so much steady press, so much attention on talk radio, so much incoherent mumbling on the internet, it eventually became redundant to the point of being annoying.

Free speech was squelched? Really? I fail to understand how.

Oh, and City Solicitor Bill Vinsko told the activist’s lawyer that our mayor’s response to the sudden, late-breaking offer of dropping the entire legal mess was, “She can go fu>k herself?”

Sorry, kiddies, but that’s complete bullsh*t. I guarantee you, that never happened as it was recounted in court. What they are asking you to believe is that Bill Vinsko is the absolute dumbest attorney to ever come down the pike. Yep, that Vinsko, he’s so dumb, he thought the planets in our solar system were constructed and then launched into their respective orbits by General Dynamics. He’s so dumb, Leighton keeps him on a leash.

While there’s no doubt the entire firehouse petition drive was riddled with misrepresentations, I’m here to tell you that outright lies were a part of the game plan. When the scanner proved that fire trucks responding to incidents in the Heights arrived on scene within four minutes, there were the firehouse activists telling tales of 8 and 9 minute response times. The point is, with this bunch, the end justified the means.

So, when it goes before a jury, Tom Leighton is painted as being prone to launching into F-bomb-laced diatribes? And even more unbelievably, his trusted counsel thinks nothing of relaying these diatribes to opposing attorneys? Sorry, folks. But I’m not buying it. No way, no how. He’s too smart for that.

In response to all of this highly dubious malarkey, Wifey asked me if I had ever, during any or all of our too-numerous-to-list encounters, heard Tom Leighton curse.

I got to thinking about it and I was assuming going in that I must have heard him curse at some point. I just must have. But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t remember him having done so. Still, he must have let his guard down at some point, followed by the obligatory, “That’s off the record.” Still, I can’t remember him offering me a single F-bomb.

So, I called him and asked him about it. And he told me what I already know. If you think nothing off firing away with the expletives in your personal life, you’re probably going to slip every now and again during your professional life. So, if you’re smart, you try to police up your own act even when the microscope is turned off. Being the former, now reformed F-bomb champion of the entire known world, I know what he’s talking about.

So, we’re being led to believe that during this firehouse scrum, he not only let it fly, but Bill Vinsko then went and repeated it to a legal opponent. And that’s effing bullsh*t.

What’s not to like?

And then we had Walter Griffith, another self-styled Wilkes-Barre activist, on WILK radio yesterday claiming that Mayor Tom Leighton had retaliated against him during the redistricting petition drive. This poppycock, coming from the very guy who signed the firehouse petition twice. And that can only be construed as cheating, or not knowing what you’re doing in the first place. Consider the source.

And that’s been my preeminent complaint with these “activists” all along. They tell us they know how better to run the world, but when pressed into service, they screw it up. They know better, but their efforts are always tainted by gross missteps. I once had a guy knock on the door seeking a signature on a petition, and after he handed it to me, I pointed out to him which signatures would be scratched if challenged. He was stunned and thanked me for the heads up. Consider the source.

In retrospect, with the economic climate being what it is, I’m left to ask who was right. Who was right? With humongous corporations, our most populated states and some of our biggest cities seeking federal bailouts, who was right? Was the unrelenting activist right, or was the mayor right? Can we afford 4 firehouses? Perhaps, 5 or 6? Or was it smarter to downsize? Was it smarter to allocate only what you can afford to spend? Or was it smarter to cling to the financial status quo while taking the morale high ground in the name of public safety?

Take yet another painful glance at your quarterly 101k statement before answering that one. Check the latest price of a single share of GM stock. Take a gander at the ballooning federal deficits.

What’s not to like?

So, the activist that misrepresented the petition drive (her own petition circulators testified against her), the activist that had to beg out of her own court fight won a jury award of $67,000, which may grow to $167,000 before it’s all said and done. Fine. Wonderful. Justice has been served. (?)

But in the end, with the financial world all but collapsing all around us, let it be known that, award or no award, what she was advocating for we can ill afford. What she outright demanded would have resulted in even higher tax increases than what are now being bandied about. What we were doing in Wilkes-Barre, cutting back and spending only what the bottom line dictated, is now the model that needs to be copied the world over. While Wilkes-Barre was seeking to balance the budget against all odds, the activist was recklessly leading us down the well-worn path of deficit spending, i.e, higher taxes.

So, while people are saying this court award is a win for the people, or how our precious civil rights are being protected, I’m here to tell you that, at least in Wilkes-Barre, the bottom line is being protected and against all activist comers. Here in Wilkes-Barre, since 2004, we’ve been spending only what we can afford to spend. We are the model that needs to be copied elsewhere.

And in that, I can’t see what’s not to like.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

Sorry i haven't been in touch lately but i've been on the road a lot . I have managed to catch up on the latest happenings in the city and i see now we don't have to find out if they are going to appoint a new fire chief! Maybe it's a good thing that there getting rid of the chiefs positions i'm sure the men know how to take care of themselves and hell it's going to save money! Maybe the money they can save can be spent on putting an end on the men who live outside the city limits, really how long does it take to prove where you live??????

Speaking of where they live a friend of mine was at a gathering last week in ____ville and was having a conversation about the investigation of some of the men living outside the limits only to discover that down the street from him was one of the men in question he said he lived there for over 3yrs. I found that very interesting only because i am sure that the city is well aware of where there employe"s live. Why do you think it's taking them a long time to settle this matter if you have an opinion.

Well i see the city has to pay out more money because of the Mayor. How do you feel about that? I love hearing your remarks on things because you tell it like it is and don't beat around the bush that's how things should be. Did you ever consider to be in politics? I think you would do a damn good job

It’s likely that the reorganization at the top of the fire department and the police department will get the mayor’s biggest detractors to screaming foul from the nearest available soapboxes.

Yet, one time-worn criticism of government at every level is that there’s too many chiefs, and not enough Indians.

So what we’re looking at here is doing away with a few chiefs, creating more Indians, and saving $250,000 in the process.

What’s not to like?

From the e-mail inbox Mark

With $67,000 can’t Carey open her own fire outlet?

You know, I was trying to be somewhat nice.

Nah, $67,000 would fall about a half a million dollars short. With what’s going on economically, maybe even far, far shorter than that. Plus, it wouldn’t cover the staffing, the utilities, the insurances and what have you. Perhaps they should consider forming a volunteer fire department up there in the Heights.

Petition, anyone?

I know the Twangman doesn’t want to hear it, but I’m heading off to check the fantasy football waiver wire. Due to unforeseen injuries to running backs, I need to go and catch me some more of that lightning in a bottle.

Maybe more of you folks need to follow my example. While the entire world spins out of control, I got no need for no hand-wringing, ‘cause I’m off in my own little fantasy world. You follow Barack Obama’s every tepid move, while I follow my many opponents every fantasy move. You worry, while I scheme on.

One…more…time, what’s not to like?