Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pet Peeve (The Finale)


It's pronounced Wilkes-Barre. (Wilkes-Berry.) Named After John Wilkes, an English radical and journalist and Isaac Barre, an Irish soldier and son of a French refugee.
It's the first thing they tell you when you get hired at a local radio or television station. It's not Wilkes-Bear or Wilkes-Berra...WILKES-BARRE. And by the way, it's always hyphenated. (That means there's a dash between Wilkes and Barre for those of you in Glen Lyon.)

You may ask how I can be so certain about this? I was told by a man from Beemington, NY during a meeting in Ceilingsgrove.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two Card Monte

The passage of Pennsylvania's 2010-11 budget left the issue of a severance tax on natural gas extracted from Marcellus Shale up in the air. There is an agreement in Harrisburg that some tax will be passed by October 1st. Those revenues are needed to balance the spending plan.

Gas companies have already begun an advertising campaign opposing any type of tax.

Truth be told, the gas companies would LOVE a tax. Not an exorbitant tax, but a tax.


The coalition opposed to drilling is pushing for a moratorium. The group questions the safety of not only the actual drilling but the potentially toxic cocktail of chemicals used to fracture the shale and release the gas. They are gaining momentum.

But when lawmakers consider the tax, the debate will shift the focus off the environment and public safety and onto money. Faced with a threat of higher taxes, many will support some type of extraction tax and that's when the gas companies win.

Economics versus the environment?

Jobs versus higher unemployment? (I'm all for jobs, but not just doctors, nurses and deputy coroners.)

When Pennsylvania becomes dependant on the revenues from a gas tax it will become difficult if not impossible to stop the drilling no matter the reason.

Three card monte? How about two card monte?

No matter which card you choose, you lose.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

I tend to go on when someone I know passes.

I intend for this to not sound like an obituary. If it does, I apologize in advance. In reality, a little piece of our corner of the earth is passing away.

Our friend Paul Stueber is leaving us.

Not that way.

Paul is moving on to continue a storied career in broadcast journalism.

I consider him a friend. I hope he feels the same way. I don't know him well . Our paths haven't crossed as frequently as I would like. My fault, not Paul's.

Respect him? That would be understatement.

I met Paul while covering the crash of a jet at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
My photographer and I were working the tall grass of the crash site when he pulled up on his motorcycle. I didn't know who he was until he introduced himself. Pretty cool.

About a year later, 1986, I decided to change jobs and move to WYOU-TV. I got treated pretty shabbily on the way out by my former employer. A local newspaper columnist, with a not so hidden agenda, decided to take me on because of my decision. It was something I could not and would not respond to. He'd love to see me mention him and his newspaper here. Not going to happen.

I was pretty low the morning the column appeared. As I prepared to cover the day's news, a knock came on my office door. A courier hand delivered a letter. It was on WNEP-TV stationary.

I fully expected I was about to get my chops busted. Nothing of the sort.

"Dear Kevin, Illegitimi Non Carborundum."

Now Sister Gabriel Marie had somehow managed to teach me enough Latin at Central Catholic High School that I knew what it said.

Translation; "Don't let the bastards grind you down!"

The rest I would prefer to keep between me and the writer.

It was signed, "Your friend, Paul Stueber."

All these years later, I have the letter.

Always within reach.

I immediately called to thank him. He wished me well in my future endeavors. Unlike every other time I'd heard that, he meant it.

Paul Stueber is first class. And if there was a class higher than first he'd be in that.

I hope those at his new television station will realize how lucky they are to learn at the knee of one of the legendary greats in broadcasting.

I won't say good-bye, just so long and in the words of a wise man and good friend, "Be well."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Just Out

Norman Bates.

There, I said it. No one else will say it, so I will.

Norman Bates. Norman F. Bates.

I'm sure at this point you've figured out that this is going to be about that 91-year old Bradford County woman who was living in her home with the corpses of her late husband and late sister.

This will be light on specifics. We've all heard the gory details.

This woman needs help. Please see that she gets it.

Authorities are deciding if she will face criminal charges. Some say she did no harm and should not face prosecution. Are you kidding me?

The woman was living with her dead husband and dead sister (did I mention that they were both DEAD!) She is apparently cooperating with investigators. She's described as kindly and sweet. There seems to be a real reticence to charge her.

She apparently had help digging up the bodies, DEAD bodies. I don't think State Police will hesitate to charge the conspirators. And what about the social worker. You know that person is going to face a boatload of trouble for not figuring the whole thing out sooner.

The most obvious crime is abuse of corpse. Abuse of corpse is when someone treats a corpse in a way that would "outrage ordinary family sensibilities." Perhaps the only families not offended are surnamed "Manson."

Age cannot be a factor. She must be charged, if for no other reason than to get her the help she so desperately needs.

Besides, we don't want this to become common place.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Car 54 Where Are You?

The City of Wilkes-Barre Police Department will begin enforcing a ban on cell phone use while driving.

If you are caught talking or texting on your cell phone, are cited and found guilty, you face a $75.00 fine.

The city has erected signs warning motorists of the new ordinance.


I see a driver using his cell phone. I pull over and pick up my cell phone and call Wilkes-Barre Police to report the infraction. A dispatcher then radios a patrol car to report the incident. The officer driving the police vehicle then takes one of his hands off the steering wheel, looks down and picks up his police radio to acknowledge the call and respond.

In doing so, the officer takes his eyes off the road momentarily and slams into the back end of an LCTA bus.

Film at 11.