Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mary C. Jordan (1933-2014)

On behalf of my brothers Mark and Bernie and my sisters Eileen, Kathleen and Maureen and our children, I'd like to thank you for reaching out to us over the past several days as we mourned the death of our beloved mother, grandmother and matriarch; Mary Jordan.

Our Mom and Grammy passed away April 9th after a two year battle with "The Big C."


Damned cancer.

She beat it twice. The third time was not to be the charm.

Eileen, Mark and my daughter Erin delivered the most touching eulogies at Mom's funeral. I cannot write or say anything more eloquent. They weaved the story of our mother's life with moments of great laughter and great tears. Rev. Alex Roche delivered a homily in which he reminded all of us that my Mom's strongest trait as matriarch was her selflessness.

She gave back everything she ever received two fold, to us her children and grandchildren and to her wide circle of friends.

Growing up we were regaled with stories or her years caring for her other family the O'Briens. We were more than a little jealous that they had seen the fun side of our mother. At the end, they joined us in our mourning and we all now understand that special bond. Their support has been a source of great strength for us and is greatly appreciated.

What I am about to write is going to get me in trouble, but it's something I'd like you to know.

Our Mom was a super-hero.

She had two special powers.

Now don't be mistaken, none of us were abused. But all of us took a "shoe" on more than one occasion. There was discipline. Act up and you could expect to get "the shoe."

If there was an Olympic event for shoe tossing Mom would not only win the gold, but captain the team.
Shoes weren't thrown hard. Just enough to get your attention. She could make shoes hang in midair and even turn corners. Even in a family obsessed with the Kennedys, that was some "magic bullet."

But her greatest power was a strong and abiding love for her family and her loyalty to them. She would tell you when you were right and when you were wrong. No one else would know. And she would support us unconditionally with the strength of a million man Army (or I guess in our case: Navy.)

She taught us how to love; love God, love Family, love Country.

In that order.

It was that love of country that led her in her later years to an involvement with politics. She felt a need to give back. In what is some fitting irony, Mom's name will appear on next month's ballot as a candidate for the Luzerne County Democratic Committee from Kingston's 3rd Ward.

We hope she wins.

On Saturday morning, we gave her back to God and a reunion with our Dad, her parents and brothers and sisters and friends.

Thank You God for giving us the best mother and grandmother.

My favorite Bible verse comes from the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 40 Verse 32. "Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar with wings of eagles."

Our wish for her is what she would wish for all of  you...

Eagles' wings.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Grammar Police

So what?
Don't start your answers to questions with the word, "so."

"I mean."
And by the way, don't offer up the phrase, "I mean," in response to the first question asked of you.
If you haven't answered anything yet, how are we to discern what you mean?

"Ya' know."
Enough said.

In response to anchor questions, many television news reporters will respond with the word, "absolutely."
It's not an absolute.
There are no absolutes. (wait a minute...)

The word is "versus."
There is no such word as verse unless you're talking about poetry.

"Seen" is not the past tense of saw.
I seen an interview on TV with someone who wanted to tell us what they, "seen."

And finally, Yes I have smelled it too.
It's not me!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mike McGlynn

I know I haven't posted in a while, but the death of longtime Citizens' Voice columnist Mike McGlynn moves me to write.
I first met Mike when he was a teacher at Bishop Klonowski High School in South Scranton. I was the reporter covering a teachers' strike. Later, we got to know each other as colleagues.
Mike's Cabbage Patch column was an absolute must read.
In 1997 I was the subject of one of those columns:

                       OUT OF THE FRYING PAN           September 10, 1997

Long years as a broadcast reporter cause a man's faculties to fail they say. Judgement becomes clouded. Vision begins to fade. The sense of smell is dulled to a point at which one subscribes to the misconception that a certain substance really is ice cream.
Kevin Jordan has bowed to the inevitable onset of old age. When you can't run with the pack you fade to the back---this from personal experience.

"Politics and the elective process have always been an avocation for me. Now they are going to be a vocation"---Kevin Jordan's entry in "Famous Last Words."


We were not close, but I still would call Mike a friend and his "VOICE" will truly be missed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I was shocked this week that The New York Times denied that President Barack H. Obama was the source of recent national security leaks, judged so serious that  Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two independent Special Prosecutors.
For a moment let's forget the leaked information and its potential harmful effects on our nation's safety.
Time to go to school. Old School. Listen up journalism students , you don't talk about confidentially-sourced information.
Once you start eliminating sources, you start narrowing the field of sources. If you invoke the privilege of protecting your source, you cannot and must not identify whether a source was, or was not, the source of your story.
For example...a reporter is asked if Mr. Smith is the source for a story. The reporter responds, "No."
Next a reporter is asked if Mr. Jones is the source. The reporter invokes his constitutional right not to reveal a source.
Well guess what. You just gave up a source. Hand in your journalism card. You're fired.
That's why I never agreed to talk to a source, "off the  record."
A source once gave me information he said was, "off the record." The information was something I already had been given by another source. The second source confirmed the story and served as confirmation. I aired the story.
I received an almost immediate phone call from the second source screaming that I had betrayed him. I engaged in a long conversation in which I tried to explain that I had not.
From that day forward I never talked to a source, "Off The Record."
Sources talk to a reporter because they want to.
When asked if I would hold information, "off the record," I always said, "no." Instead I told sources that the information they were offering up was, "Not For Attribution."
I used to engage in camouflage. I would call or visit sources who could have information about my story with the sole purpose of protecting my primary source.
Any source had to trust me and know that I would not give them up. But if a source was willing to talk, that source had to know they had some exposure.
That is why the New York Times decision to eliminate the President as a source is so disturbing. The Times made it easier to identify the real source. A really bad decision from one of the bastions of American journalism.
If you choose to share this information, please know this story is not, off the record.
It's, "not for attribution."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Solution in Search of a Problem.

Pennsylvania's 2012 General Primary (that is the proper name) will be held next Tuesday and election officials will begin asking voters for proof-of identification. A lack of proof will not result in a voter not voting. It's just a test for what will happen in November's General Election. The General assembly passed and Governor Tom Corbett signed into law tough new standards requiring voters, especially first time voters to prove they have the right to vote at a particular polling place.
 Republican supporters say it will cut down on voter fraud. Democratic detractors say it will disenfranchise minority and senior citizen electors.
 More and more this is beginning to look like a circular firing squad.
 Here's why.
 Under the Motor Voter law, citizens can register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver's license. You simply answer "yes" when asked if you want to use your information to register to vote. You then pick a party.
The information is then transmitted to the 67 county Boards of Election. After a series of mailings to determine the accuracy of your information and conducting a verification of your address, your application is approved or rejected. 99% of all Motor Voter Applications are approved.
 Here's my problem; come November you will need to bring your photo driver's license to verify your identity and right to vote. But by applying for a license, "YOU'VE ALREADY COMPLETED THIS STEP."
  When I first worked for the Board of Election in Luzerne County, I was determined to stamp out voter fraud, insisting that every regulation be followed before a voter registration was approved. My much wiser staff promptly told me to "knock it off." While filling out a registration form is not brain surgery, voters make mistakes. Some are dumb. Some are really dumb. They aren't criminal and a trained election professional can quickly determine if a voter registration application is valid. The goal is always to get the voter to vote.
 In a dispute over voter registration that occurs on the day of a primary or election, a voter can vote a provisional ballot. It won't be counted unless the voter furnishes proof, within six days, of their right to vote. The ballot is counted after all the other votes are counted. What does this mean for the voter? Everyone will know how that person voted. So much for a secret ballot.
 One election, our office presented a voter to the Court of Common Pleas. Acting as both advocate and adversary we presented the facts to a County Judge. The facts showed the voter was not registered and ineligible to vote. Three minutes later the voter left that Judge's chambers with a court order allowing her to vote.
 For years, the gold standard for identifying voters at the polls was the voter's signature. The signature you use is immediately compared to the signature on file. It's not perfect, but it is pretty darned good. It's quicker. You lose more voters who won't stand in long lines than you will by requiring them to produce a voter identification.
 We'll see how the new system works.
 Right now it's a regulation right out of the the Department of Redundancy Department.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Know When You're "Holden..."

As a former Sheriff of Schuylkill County and a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, Congressman Tim Holden has done the unthinkable. He's shot himself in the foot.
Holden represents the newly configured 17th Congressional District which now includes large portions of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. The ten term incumbent faces a primary challenge from Attorney Matt Cartwright of Moosic.
Holden is immensely popular in the southern throes of the new 17th. He's a "blue dog" Democrat, a Democrat  who can get Republican votes. In 2004 Holden defeated Scott Paterno (yes that Scott Paterno) to win re-election.

Cartwright enters the race as a well funded challenger. He has used an almost nightly, "The Law and You" segment on television to make this a close contest.
Holden needs to hang onto his base in the southern portions of the 17th and chip away at Cartwright's popularity in the north.
The easiest way to do this is to debate Cartwright. But Holden says, "no."
He didn't just decline a debate invitation. He didn't even respond to the League of Women Voters request.
Holden was a virtual unknown in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when the gerrymandered 17th became law earlier this year. His best hope was to introduce himself and appear as a strong legislator ready to help his new constituents. One of the easiest ways to do that; debate.
Holden's refusal makes him appear weak.
I think it will cost him re-election.
With apologies to Kenny Rogers, "you've got to know when to "hold-en" and know when to "fold em."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bone of Contention

Let's start this way. Before Monday morning, I didn't know who M.I.A. was.
Now I do.
M.I.A. is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam. She is a 36-year old British rapper who decided to twist the arm of fate in an effort to get more than her allotted fifteen minutes of fame.
Yes America M.I.A. is the artist (really?) who flipped America the bird during the televised halftime show of Super Bowl  XLVI.
(Yes Roger Goodell, I said, "Super Bowl." Come arrest me.)
That's what got me thinking.
If you use the phrase, Super Bowl while advertising your business without the expressed written consent of the NFL, a flock of angry lawyers will descend upon you like white on rice.
Expect litigation.
But if an "artist" uses the longest of digits to substitute for the two most heinous words in American culture, expect feigned shock and awe. "why, how could she do this?"
After all M.I.A. was just expressing her right of free speech; her creative energy.
We just cannot interfere with that.
As Colonel Potter used to say, "mule fritters!"
This wasn't the first time this has happened.
Remember Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction?"
It is not the last time it has happened because I'm pretty sure that Clint Eastwood's commercial for Chrysler was a big old middle finger at someone.