The LuLac Edition #160, Feb. 23, 2007
WILKES BARRE WRAP
At last night’s council meeting, Mayor Tom Leighton actually apologized for the inconvenience to city residents and he took full responsibility for the problems related to the storm. Even though some residents are already saying this is “too little-too late”, you have to give the Mayor credit for facing the residents and making his statement. No one wants Leighton to fail in rebuilding the city but sometimes his reactions to the hard questions citizens ask don’t do his image any favors. WBRE TV’s reporter Jill Konopka reported that when she asked the Mayor why he didn’t make his statement of responsibility sooner, Mr. Leighton told her this was his first forum to do so since the weather events of last week. Well, there were the two news conferences as well as pleas from the WILK talk show hosts to ring them up. Observers feel Leighton’s statement Thursday night will go a long way in smoothing his previously unencumbered path for re-election.
In the meantime, Council members actually spoke. Tony Thomas complimented the DPW workers with a bit of hyperbole by calling them “heroes”. They did do a good job under adverse circumstances but “heroes” to me are people who rush into burning buildings or take a bullet for someone. Kathy Kane said something that since Wilkes Barre was the biggest city, it got the most negative comments about the storm. I don’t know about that, perhaps the size of the city has nothing to do with its frustration over the snow removal issue but rather the way it was handled. Thomas did indicate that DPW does need more equipment. And his statement proves the point that sometimes, as much as we’d like it, administrations focus on one thing more than another. Did the Leighton regime downplay the need for new equipment because they were preoccupied with economic development? Most likely. But you can say the McGroarty administration was more focused on equipment and machinery than the downtown. Any administration has to find a balance and it is a tough thing to do especially with limited resources.
Wilkes Barre GOP candidate and taxpayer advocate Walter Griffith made an appearance at the meeting and urged the council to concentrate more on the neighborhoods. Griffith pointed to the snow issue as his primary proof that more needs to be done in the city’s hoods.
Councilman Jim McCarthy also tried to get his “Sexual Predator” ordinance passed. It did not get a second. This is intriguing both politically and governmentally. McCarthy has served on council for 16 years, he has been a stalwart of the local Democratic party for years. It is puzzling to see that after all that time in the arena, he was unable to have at least one member second his motion. Is this Council’s way of telling McCarthy to just shut up and retire to his bar business? The ordinance is not anything foreign to other communities either. The fact that McCarthy doesn’t have a coalition for the issue certainly has frustrated him and most likely will have a major bearing on his decision to run for another term. He has indicated he may not run but you really have to wait for the last day of filing to be certain. Observers feel that council has received word from their puppet masters to lay low on Gentleman Jim’s resolution. My sources tell me the true reasons for this opposition will play itself out before the General Election. In the meantime, you have to feel for McCarthy because all he wants is a hearing for his plan. But council doesn't seem to even want to talk about it and you know that has to annoy an old school communicator like McCarthy.
THE CASE OF STEVE FLOOD
Former County Controller Steve Flood has indicated he will run for County Commissioner in the spring primary. There is mixed reaction to the announcement. The bomb throwers who loved Flood’s antics are urging him on to make the race and call the current administration on the carpet for their fiscal decisions. But a few Flood supporters feel these people are unrealistically giving the candidate a far too rosy picture of beating the Skrep-Petrilla ticket. These supporters of Flood fear that a primary loss will pin their guy as a perennial loser and not very attractive for future runs. Others have been advocating that Flood switch parties and become a Republican. This corner feels that a GOP Flood would be a strong candidate that would garner the good government wing of the Republicans as well as Flood’s own political base. It should be noted that Flood single-handedly put on a rally for Ed Rendell in April of 2002 that brought 1200 people into Genetti’s in Wilkes Barre. Everyone else in the party hierarchy was backing Bob Casey, Junior.
Here’s my advice to Flood: sit out this race. See if the Skrepenak-Petrilla duo prevails. (If the GOP field two good candidates and stay united, maybe a Demo win might not be a slam dunk). However, if the Democrats retain control, lobby and lobby hard to Ed Rendell to have you appointed as County Controller to fill out Petrilla’s term. You can wreck havoc on the board of commissioners, file all the lawsuits you want and stick it to the Democratic party. The late Joe Tirpak held the Controller's office for over twenty years. Since his death, in the span of a decade, 4 people have occupied that office, Raymond Sobota, an interim appointment by the Ridge administration, Tom Pizano, Steve Flood and now Petrilla. Whatever he does, Flood has a following and if he is interested and not distracted with other things, he can make any race fascinating.