The LuLac Edition #198, April 15th, 2007
PHOTO INDEX: WILKES BARRE CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE IN DISTRICT A, WALTER GRIFFITH, JUNIOR AND STEVE URBAN, LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER.
WHAT IS PATRIOTISM?
There are days when we think we know what Patriotism is all about. My heavens, the Bush administration has told us how unpatriotic we can be if we disagree with their flaws war policies. Patriotism sometimes comes out on rare occasions, like the Fourth of July when everyone goes to their local fireworks extravaganza but would be hard pressed to tell you who wrote the declaration of Independence or even if anyone signed it. Patriotism comes to the forefront when we welcome the local guy or gal home from combat, thanking them for their service. While I applaud the local celebrations for those fighting in Iraq, and have joined in one or two of them, I can’t help but think Americans are trying to make up for guilt because of the way Vietnam vets were treated. But that’s another story for another time and place. Patriotism comes in bombast and flourishes, embracing the thousands jumping on the bandwagon. But Patriotism also comes from commitment to core beliefs, and sometimes fighting the lonely battle where there is no bunting and no banners. A Patriot serves in many ways and today I’d like to offer up some food for thought.
A true patriot is someone who cares about his or her community.
A true patriot will appear before a Council or Township meeting on their own time to question budgets, courses of action and the future of their local government.
A true patriot will put himself or herself out there for all the world to see, sometimes questioning what was unquestionable and making the powers that be uncomfortable. Those people usually get escorted or thrown out of public meetings.
A true patriot will relentlessly seek the truth about administration’s relationships with business people, partnerships and even relatives of those elected. This stance will not make the Patriot popular and most likely make their lives very uncomfortable.
A true patriot will go the extra mile when they shouldn’t have to. When existing governmental bodies do not provide answers, or worse yet, provide non answers and pass the buck or make it so draconian for someone to get a simple basic answer (I point as an example to Steve Corbett’s battle with the Lackawanna County Sherriff’s office as well as others in Luzerne County and Wilkes Barre that are getting the runaround) to a question, then the inquiring person is not only a Patriot but a Super Hero. (Most interested citizens don’t want to be Super Heroes but sometimes they are forced into it).
Patriotism is on display locally right now but the citizens who are being affected by the local governments have to be part of it. Currently there are many men and women doing the ultimate patriotic thing, running for office. Particularly in the city of Wilkes Barre more than 20 people are offering themselves up for public office on the Council level. They don’t want the pensions, they don’t want the perks, they want to serve. My question desperately asked is this: IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION? Voters and citizens pay attention sometimes when it is too late. The war in Iraq and the problems with the returning vets were issues on the radar screen a few years ago but no one paid attention. Voters in this little corner of the world have to start paying attention. NOW. Wilkes Barre and Scranton have entrenched administrations that have systematically tried to stymie public debate. Its elected officials have insulted taxpayers and citizen advocates labeling the voting public as malcontents and people who we should be “ashamed” of. This is the unpatriotic behavior. You notice that this comes from the entrenched few who govern and not the masses?
I went to two political meetings this weekend. One in the Wilkes Bare area, the other in the Mid Valley. The people putting themselves up for office had no prominent attorneys with fat checkbooks giving them contributions. There was no shrimp and bananas foster. Pretzels, cake, beer and soda. There was no Versace wear or people there with $300.00 haircuts. But there were interested voters and the electoral challengers who told the assembled multitudes about their ideas, their plans, their passion. They spoke of the shoddy treatment they as taxpayer advocates have received from their Mayors and Council bodies. The candidates talked about the frustrations of running for office because they feel their main enemy is not political power brokers money or the back room deals of the connected but the lack of focus on these issues by the voting public. These candidates have put themselves on the front line and seem to be asking the question. “Is anyone out there?”
The city of Scranton is facing a huge financial crisis and its council members have tried to shut out the citizens posing questions. The city of Wilkes Barre has a Council that rubber stamps everything the administration proposes sometimes straining the rules of credulity and logic. Are there any other people out there besides the candidates caring and listening about these issues?
Patriotism is a two way street. Coming up the street are the people, patriots who have decided to run for office because they want answers and change. Voters and citizens have to get out of their Lazy Boys, put the Coors Lite down and get out in that street and understand the issues and care about them. It’s the Patriotic thing to do. The consequences for inaction are downright scary. The candidates running are doing the “Patriotic” thing, now the voters must too. If not, we get the government we richly deserve.
Council candidate Ray Arellano running in District B had a meet and greet Saturday morning. I understand he had a respectable crowd for a first time candidate. Arellano’s foes in that district are incumbent Tony Thomas, Bruce Reilly, Sherry McGylnn Cope and Vince Guarneri.
Talked to County Commissioner Steve Urban this week. Urban and I chewed the fat over public entities funding private developers. Urban said he’s all for economic development and would be happy to lend a prospective business county money to bring jobs into the area and enhance it. But not outright give money to profit making companies to enrich themselves more. If one takes a look at some of the investments government has made locally to bring in “high paying jobs” with tax forgiveness and grants, it would curl a citizen’s hair. As a county official, Steve Urban has kept on eye on these things and in my estimation has been working overtime. After all, do you think Mary Ann Petrilla is going to ask the hard questions Urban would? Urban is running for re-election for another term. He is a hands on commissioner who has a bead on how county money should be spent and distributed. Not given away to the greedy fat cats who get rich on taxpayer dollars. We wish him the best.
We had the opportunity to speak to Linda Stetts who is running for both Council District D and Mayor on the GOP ticket. Stetts, a long time community activist asked about the ground rules for the political forum in May. She has promised to send me information on her plans as a candidate which should be interesting.
Another conversation we had this week was with Walter Griffith Junior and Tim Grier. My head was swimming after sitting down with these guys regarding some ideas they individually and collectively have for the city of Wilkes Barre. On a warm Saturday afternoon, these guys spoke with passion about where they want Wilkes Barre to go. While I personally did not agree with everything, I thought how wonderful it would be if one of these guys achieved public office in Wilkes Barre. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a Council member currently serving say anything except Jim McCarthy? Personally I can’t wait to hear Griffith who is running in District A and Grier who is running for Mayor and also Council in District A at the LuLac Political Letter City Council Forum on Sunday May 6th starting at 430PM at Genetti’s in Wilkes Barre. Think about this, Grier, as a Dem and Griffith as a Republican facing off for a Council Seat in District A in the General Election. Now that would be an interesting race full of ideas and dare I say it again, patriotism.