The LuLac Edition #51, August 24th, 2006
PICTURE INDEX, BOB CASEY, SENATE CANDIDATE, GOP COUNTY COMMISSIONER STEVE URBAN, GOVERNOR ED RENDELL AND MAYOR BARLETTA WITH MAYOR GUILLIANI.
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
WILKES BARRE ACTIVIST MAKES GREAT POINT….Walter Griffith, the taxpayer advocate who has been highly critical of Wilkes Barre City Council these days might have struck a nerve. The Council is fighting the proposed realignment change with petitions to have the vote of 2001 overturned. That vote changed the make up of Council from an at large board of 7 to a group of 5 elected by districts. Ted Wampole, a city resident long active in politics was instrumental in drawing up the districts. But it seems the current council members are having some of their “supporters” or “stooges” (you pick) send out petitions to see if they could have a “do over”. Griffith has charged that the council members are concerned first and foremost about their pensions. If they reach 20 years of service with the City, they get a full blown pension. Current city council members are telling the media that they are only concerned with “good government” and that they are unaware of the pension benefits. PLEASE STOP AND KILL US ALL RIGHT NOW! For a Council member like Phil Latinski to say seriously that he has no clue how long he’s been in office and had to be told by someone is an insult to even the dumbest human being in Wilkes Barre. (Perhaps another Council member???) These politicians know how long they are in for, how many votes they won by, whether Aunt Sally’s brother had the yard sign up longer than Uncle Billy’s cousin, and certainly how much time they need to get a tax payer funded pension. Years ago when the late Tom McLaughlin was running in the primary for his third term as Mayor (Lee Namey beat him in that bid in 1987) one of his chief supporters said it was a shame McLaughlin didn’t start on council sooner. I asked naively, “To build more of a record??" And the retort was delivered to me with a huff and a snort, “No, he’d get a full pension with twenty years!” Tom McLaughlin ran because he wanted to help the city, not worry about a pension. These guys, obstructionists in the McGroatey administration and lapdogs in the Leighton era should try to just shut up, follow the rules and do their work.
COMMENTARY………..In the spring “Leadership Wilkes Barre” took to the streets of Kingston and Wilkes Barre and put potted plants in strategic places. The plants were in overhanging baskets most prominent on the Market Street Bridge. As you drove or walked over the bridge, you saw beautiful, prospering growing flowers and plants in these baskets. The “future movers and shakers” of the Valley put aside their Fendi purses and gold plated Ipods and actually did some meaningful physical labor to accomplish this task. Kudos to them! What happened since then? Well the plants have been barely maintained by the city of Wilkes Barre and are on their way to extinction or “weed heaven”. When a volunteer group gives the city a gift, the least someone could do is maintain it so that it lasts beyond the graduation class.
WHAT ABOUT URBAN???? Next year there is a county wide election and the Commissioners are up for another term. The current situation is fluid. Greg Skrepenak seems poised for another run with Todd Vonderheid. But if Vonderheid is hired back by the Wilkes Barre Chamber, (and who could blame him if he went back given his experience level there) the question of a successor is on the table. The County Dems seem to be touting Mary Ann Petrilla from Hazleton, the County Controller. Despite coming across as downright unprepared in her debates when she ran, certain elements of the party think she’d be a good candidate. We shall see.
But what about the Republican party and Steve Urban? Is there any way for the county GOP to try and wrest control of the County from the Democrats? The GOP has made inroads in the row offices with Barry Stankus winning the Sheriff’s nod twice and Mary Dysleski winning the Recorder of Deeds office that was long held by a Pittston Democrat. Who could run with Steve Urban that would make a viable team to at least challenge the Democrats? Is there any real new blood in the GOP? Would Hazleton Mayor Barletta take a flier on a county wide race given his recent high profile with the immigration issue? The Republican party needs more than Steve Urban to fight future county battles if it is to be successful.
THE RUDY MYTH………..Make no mistake, I’ve always liked and admired former New York Mayor Rudy Guilianni. From the first time I met him at Yankee Stadium in 1993 when he was making his second run for Mayor, I’ve always defended, supported and advocated for him. In the interest of fair play though, the New York Daily News columnist Erroll Lewis wrote a thought provoking column this week on the Mayor. Here’s his take on the Rudy myth and 911.
Time to downsize Rudy 9/11 myth.
The images and their accompanying story line are, by now, the stuff of legend, seared into memory. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lame-duck local pol, becomes the take-charge, already prepared leader of a stunned city and nation on Sept. 11, 2001, striding through the streets of lower Manhattan with his top commanders to rescue, rally and reassure the populace.
Five years later, Giuliani is a pop-culture superhero ("I didn't have time to be afraid, Oprah") and has unabashedly converted 9/11 into wealth, fame and a shot at the White House.
But a new exhaustively researched and unsentimental peek behind the mythology strongly suggests that Giuliani and his top deputies committed many errors that did grave, even fatal, harm to citizens, emergency responders and recovery teams before, on and after that terrible day. Investigative reporters Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins, the co-authors of "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11," think the time has come for the public to trade in myth for some hard, uncomfortable truths.
They could be wrong: Given a choice between a well-told heroic tale and a catalogue of faults, humans instinctively choose fable over facts. But Barrett and Collins hammer away at Giuliani and leave his mythic armor dented.
They tell the story of 9/11 failures like Giuliani's decision to locate the city's command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center over the objections of police and fire brass. The bunker went unused, and its 6,000 gallons of fuel may have destroyed the building.
Operational shortcomings like the FDNY's famously obsolete radios get reviewed in detail, along with low-tech communications failures like the creation of separate police and fire command posts at Ground Zero on 9/11, which prevented firefighters from sounding a Mayday evacuation order even after cops saw the south tower fall and began evacuating the north tower 25 minutes before it, too, collapsed.
Giuliani's top team comes in for criticism: Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik essentially served as Giuliani's personal bodyguard on 9/11 instead of running the NYPD. "I don't know who was directing. I literally don't," current Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the authors.
Those failures, perhaps understandable in the chaos of 9/11, are compounded by much less forgivable decisions in the attack's wake. Construction workers and firefighters were allowed to work and eat meals in the still-smoldering ruins without protective respiratory gear despite dire warnings - and as the Daily News has reported, thousands of Ground Zero veterans are now afflicted with upper respiratory illnesses.
Equally inexcusable is Giuliani's rewriting of history to hide his failures. Barrett and Collins describe forum after forum in which the mayor, relying on his mythic glow, says that even obvious mistakes - from the siting of the emergency bunker to the creation of separate police and fire posts on 9/11 - represented wise, intentional strategy. Already, the legend is beginning to fray: The chairmen of the 9/11 commission recently expressed regret at letting America's Mayor off the hook too easily. There will be more such second looks in the future, as America amends the moral of the Giuliani fable to read that even heroes need not be perfect - or pretend to be. Originally published on August 22, 2006.
Here’s my take on all of this, the writer, an African American brings up strong and legitimate points. There are areas where the Mayor needs to be taken to task and that will come up in either a Presidential or Senatorial run. African Americans have never been a core constituency of Guilianni, now that fact does nothing to diminish the accuracy of the criticism. But 911 was such a earth shaking day, when we had no clue when the next attack would come and when our President and Vice president were not visible, Guilianni spoke for the nation with clear headed authority and a sense of resolve and calm. Until one walks in those shoes, let us acknowledge the mistakes and address them but never tear down the heroic image of the Mayor on Sept. 11th, 2001.
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CASEY AGREES TO DEBATES………
For months, embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has been dogging challenger Bob Casey Jr. about scheduling debates, claiming that his Democratic opponent is refusing to go head-to-head before the public.
The other day, Casey's campaign struck back, announcing that it had agreed to two televised debates - in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh - and a joint radio appearance in addition to an already-scheduled joust on "Meet the Press" Sept. 3.
Santorum, who trails state treasurer Casey in the polls, has called for 10 debates around the state, presumably because he thinks he would fare well against mild-mannered Casey.
The senator's campaign yesterday said he would likely participate in the three new debates, but still wants more.
Plus in the latest polls, Ed Rendell has increased his lead while Bob Casey’s huge lead over Rick Santorum has declined. The debates in the Senate race should be an accurate indicator as to how this contest is going to go.