Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Some justices had feared cameras would change how oral arguments are presented, and we all know some people act different in front of a camera. The positives outweigh the negatives. Open it up. Let's see what happens.
Richard Emanski was sentenced to five months in jail yesterday, in federal court at Scranton. Emanski pleaded guilty to bribing a member of the Wilkes-Barre Area school board. He also admitted, perhaps inadvertently, in a pre sentence court report, to bribing others.
Before the sentence was handed, Emanski's attorney outlined all the bad things that could potentially happen to Emanski, his family, and his business if he went to jail. I'm a believer in second chances and redemption. I also believe that good people can make bad mistakes. However, it appears Emanski should have thought of that stuff before he started handing out bribes. His activity clearly wasn't a "one and done" deal.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
While I didn't attend yesterday's announcement, these things invariably go like this. Some reporter asks about the size of the dent this puts in the local drug trade. The answer is, unfailingly, "a big one."
Another reporter then asks about the fact that those who got busted are the street level people. Small potatoes. The answer to that query always consists of some official saying the little people always turn on the big ones to save their hides, and that's why you arrest the street level dealers.
Look, any drug arrest is a good one. Police are doing the best they can with their limited resources, and an ever increasing drug problem. Drugs is one of the big reasons behind burglaries, theft, violence, and a huge list of other crimes. Drugs tear apart society.
What concerns me is there never seems to be a slow down. 26 people are off the street, and there will be soon be another bunch to take their place.
And, I keep waiting for the big fish to be reeled in.
Monday, June 28, 2010
General Stanley McChrystal got fired last week as leader of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama gave McChrystal the boot after the general and his staff said some unwise things in a Rolling Stone article.
It was just a matter of time before the general's inner circle started blaming Rolling Stone and the article's author, Michael Hastings. It was all laid out in print in a Saturday morning Washington Post story.
I don't care what the ground rules were. What was on the record and what was off the record was irrelevant. Even if Hastings is the most moral and upstanding individual on the planet, General McChrystal was stupid. If you're smart enough to run a war, you should be smart enough to keep your yap shut. Maybe he was a bit too trusting. It's too late now.
We've all learned this lesson the hard way, and I'm surprised it took General McChrystal so long.
I saw some of my contemporaries burned by a slimey newspaper reporter several years. Things were said in casual conversation, just a little industry gossip between some people covering the courthouse. It wound up in print. She tried to get me once. I didn't fall for it. I got lucky.
This is not an overall indictment of my print brethren. Most are good and decent people. I've seen broadcasters do much worse.
Have I been hurt by people I thought were my friends? Sure. We've all been down that road. You survive. You live. More importantly, you learn. Ben Franklin once said that three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.
That might be a bit severe. Legal disclaimer: I do not advocate homicide. The last time I checked, it's against the law.
As I wrote here Friday, you have to look at a person's body of work before passing judgement. McChrystal made a mistake, a big one. I just have to wonder how he'll be remembered in history. It's a stellar career marred by errors we've all made.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Yes, the photo above and the one you see below are the same diesel engine, or so I'm told. The top photo was taken at Steamtown in Scranton yesterday. The one below is from March 4. Don't ask me the reason behind the new paint job. I hope it was a good one. There's nothing wrong with the new look, but I did like the unusual nature of the tangerine and blue.
Friday, June 25, 2010
CNN needs a hit. Its prime time ratings are in the tank. The current 8 pm host, Campbell Brown quit because she can't draw a crowd. Larry King at 9 pm has lost a huge part of his audience.
Spitzer's hypocrisy bothered me more than his actual illegal acts. He liked to portray himself as Mr. Law and Order, while at the same time, he was hooking up with women from a rental service.
So, that sets off the debate.
Is CNN rewarding bad behavior? Is it so desperate for ratings that it will hire an admitted cheater and liar?
On the other hand, how long should Spitzer be punished?
He did get high marks as attorney general for the state of New York.
Should we look at the body of work rather than just Ms. Dupre's body?
It's going to come down to one thing: Is Eliot Spitzer good on television? That's it. That's the list.
Coincidentally, I had an e-mail discussion Wednesday, with a friend, over Dan Flood. The congressman did a lot of good for his district, although some of it was nothing more than pork barrell politics. Flood resigned in 1980 after a mistrial on bribery charges. Can you talk about Flood without mentioning the thievery? Should that be on a Public Square tribute marker?
I've always been a fan of looking at the big picture, the good and the bad. The body of work.
No one's perfect. You just have to hope, and work to make sure the good outweighs the not so good.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I'm often reminded of something the great Bob Barker once said. He offered that the secret to being a good game show host isn't what you say. It's what you don't say. Barker often encountered nervous contestants, and ones who really didn't understand what "The Price is Right" is all about. It would have been very easy to have fun at their expense, but Barker held off, because he didn't want to come across as mean, insensitive, and self centered.
That brings us to General Stanley McChrystal. In a Rolling Stone article, McChrystal blasted his bosses, including the president over their handling of the war in Afghanistan.
McChrystal might be right. He might be an excellent general, but going public with a squabble involving your boss is downright stupid. It's okay to disagree. Do it behind closed doors.
McChrystal fired? You Don't Say!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
That's a tough one. Every blog is a little different.
One definition of "journalist" is a person who keeps a journal. In that respect, yes, bloggers are journalists.
The other definition is a bit tricky, and here is what dictionary.com has to say anout "journalism": the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
If you look at it that way, no, most bloggers are not journalists. I will admit that there are some out there who do their own fact finding, so some bloggers are indeed journalists. They're very good at it.
I do read a few blogs a day, and many are like this-- commentary and observations. I occasionally do what I like to call a "value added" thing-- stuff I didn't have the time and space to tell you on television. I do track "hits" and the "behind the scenes" blogs generate the most interest. I can't go to that well every day. Certain newsroom discussions should remain internal.
As I write, ad nauseum, every year, on the November 16th anniversary of this blog, it's more of a "get to know me" thing.
There's no easy answer. Just because someone is a blogger doesn't mean their opinion or what they've discovered should be immediately dismissed. The media business has changed, and there's a lot more of that ahead. Bloggers are now part of the mix, and we'd all better get used to it.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The World Cup is underway is South Africa. The United States began by fighting England to a tie.
I remember driving to central Pennsylvania on a Saturday morning about 15 years ago. There's a stretch of Route 11 where there are several sports fields, and they were all filled with kids playing soccer. I wondered why those kids abandon the sport as young adults.
I told that story in the newsroom the other morning, to get some input from the parents on the staff. One said soccer is a relatively inexpensive sport, and that's why young kids get involved. Football, basketball, and baseball are part of our culture, so kids gravitate there when they get a little older.
Another parent reminded me of some very successful high school and soccer programs we have here in our area. One student landed a scholarship at a prime university thanks to his soccer skills. As to why soccer flies under the radar, no one really had a good reason.
If you're "in" to soccer, I applaud you. It seems to be a lot like hockey-- you really don't appreciate it until you see a game in person.
Enjoy the World Cup.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The state senate ethics committee still does most things in private. A proposal to limit the privacy failed.
The Times~Leader did an excellent story Sunday on the people charged in the Luzerne County corruption investigation. Many are behind, way behind in their taxes.
One of the accused, Thom Greco, owes more than $100,000. Greco has promised to be paid up in a month.
The others wouldn't comment or couldn't be reached for comment.
Once again, the laws apply to you and I, but not those elected to public office, not those who've already proven their arrogance.
I'm sorry to say that "I'm not."
Saturday, June 19, 2010
TCMC is in temporary quarters at Lackawanna College. This is the new building, about a block away, on Pine Street.
It's so large, it couldn't be captured in one street level shot.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Among Gilligan's first tasks was to fire the current chief deputy, and replace him with former sheriff Carl Zawatski.
Are you kidding me?
As you might remember, Zawatski was surrounded by a cloud of controversy several years back. It dealt with a auto crash, and a series of unanswered questions. Apparently, county voters were upset enough to vote Zawatski out office.
Look, I think the Luzerne County Sheriff's Office is a good and dependable bunch of people. As a reporter, they're great to deal with. None better. Professional. Courteous. Competent.
I just have concerns over handing a key job to someone who showed questionable judgment when the going got tough. It doesn't appear to be the right way to restore integrity.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It's the most time I've ever spent in one place. The WNEP era eclipsed my WARM radio service a while back. Full and part time, I was on the radio for 10 and a half years. There were a couple shorter stops along the way.
Looking back on the past decade plus two, there have been good days and bad days. Mostly good. I've learned things, and I still continue to learn. I've always felt that the day you stop learning is the day you walk out the door.
Technology continues to present a challenge. WNEP was fairly advanced when I arrived, but looking back now, it all seems so primitive. As Bachman Turner Overdrive says, "you ain't seen nothin' yet." Yes, it's frightening, even for someone who's been around the block a few times. Luckily, there's a support staff in place to help guide me through the changes.
I was going to do the "memorable stories" thing here. Unfortunately, many of them involve tragedies, so there's no need to bring them up again. In happy times and sad, people are always willing to share their stories. We appreciate that more than you'll ever know.
Of course, nothing is possible without the viewers. Thanks for being there, and I hope you'll be around tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The new Army Reserve Center replaces two-- one in Plains, just off Route 315 and the North Cross Valley Expressway. The Scranton Times says Plains officials want to turn that building into a facility for police and fire operations.
So, what becomes of the current Army Reserve Center, pictured below, on Colfax Avenue in Scranton? If you're not from the area, it's in a rather quiet area near Nay Aug Park. The mayor wants to turn it into a back up city hall and emergency operations center.
Are you kidding me?
Is Scranton that vital of a metropolis, one in constant danger, that it needs those things? Isn't there already ample space at a variety of current city owned properties, like fire stations, the DPW building, Weston Field, Nay Aug Park, not to mentions the schools, churches, county owned property, etc.
Throop, Dickson City, and Dunmore all have community centers. There are available buildings in Taylor and Old Forge. I'm sure they'd offer space, and if there's ever a disaster big enough to require a back up city hall, I'm positive more than just Scranton would be affected. We'd all have to work together, anyway.
Heck, Boscov's at the Mall At Steamtown has a community room-- and plenty of free parking-- and it's near the food court.
Don't forget about the Red Cross and Salvation Army buildings.
It sounds like a big waste of money to me. Lackawanna County already has space that would be pressed into service in an emergency, like the communications center at the top of the hill in Jessup. It has everything the city would need.
Scranton City Hall, Police HQ, and Fire HQ are all out of the flood plain.
As stated earlier, the Colfax Ave. building is in the middle of a very quiet residential area. The options are severely limited, but there has to be something better than a back up city hall.
Ground for the new Army Reserve Center will be broken tomorrow, even though site prep has been underway for quite a while. It won't be ready until the summer of next year. That leaves plenty of time for common sense to make a rare appearance.
I have one other note before I move on for the day. Someone at one of the sites, not the one you'd expect, decided to play "20 Questions" with me the other day. After I declined assistance, you should have moved on. I was on a public street, photographing what is essentially a hole in the ground. Thousands of people see it every day, whether they're on Olyphant Avenue or Interstate 81 above. No laws were being broken, and the inquisition was inappropriate. I've been an amateur photographer and professional pest for years. You'd be amazed at how the appearance of a little man with a camera can draw such attention.
AT 12:01 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I wanted to see the movie when it came out a few years ago, but I never found the time and energy to drag my tired rump to a theater.
"Juno" appeared on USA Saturday, June 5th. I watched a good part of it, but had to turn off the TV, take a shower, and go to work before it was over. I read, on the internet, how it ends. That wasn't good enough. I had to see it. A web search revealed no further TV showings. That left a search for the DVD.
I tried two different WalMarts. Nothing. I found a copy, for $ 9.99 in a dusty bin at KMart. There was a big ding in the box, and I was concerned the disc inside was damaged. I decided to take a chance and grabbed it. It was the only copy in the store. I ripped into the package, while I was in my car, in the store's parking lot-- an effort to save myself a trip back to KMart for a return. The disc looked good. so I went home.
Yes, Amazon.com was always an option.
Note to WalMart and KMart: organize your DVD's better. They were all over the place. Some were in alphabetical order. Most weren't. I don't know how anyone finds anything.
Anyway, the movie was absolutely delightful. You can laugh one minute and tear up the next. The characters were smart. The dialog was real. The movie doesn't glorify teen pregnancy. Ellen Page is wonderful. I'm sorry I waited three years to see this.
After I finished viewing the DVD, I went back to the internet to read Roger Ebert's 2007 review. As you might know, I'm a big Ebert fan. There was an interesting take on what Ebert viewed as the key scene in the movie. I won't give it away, but I while I took special note of that particular scene, Ebert assigned more significance to it than I. He was right.
"Juno" was nominated for the "best picture" Academy Award, and I can see why. If it pops up on cable again, or if you like renting DVD's, give "Juno" a shot.
Monday, June 14, 2010
This is a recent shot of the so-called "cemetery bridges" in Scranton. They're between the River Street and Davis Street exits. They get their name because St. Mary's Cemetery is just beneath the southbound span. It's off to your right in this photo.
These bridges have been falling apart for years, and this project is long overdue.
A construction company is building a temporary bridge so two lanes of traffic can be maintained in both directions. This adds time and money to the project.
Pardon a "geezer moment." I remember the days when Interstate 81 was down to one lane through the metro area just about every summer. I worked at WARM during the 80's, and getting from my home in the mid valley to the studio was an adventure. Luckily, I pulled a lot of late night, overnight, and early morning shifts (yes, even then), so I got to travel during off-peak times. The traffic load has increased greatly since I was a radio pup, so one lane of traffic, on a busy stretch of interstate, is now out of the question.
I know our area has its challenges-- bad weather, many days in the "freeze/thaw" cycle, road salt, heavy trucks, plenty of cars, etc. Yet, I'm amazed that science hasn't given us a bridge deck than can take the abuse.
The cemetery bridge replacement project should be wrapped up in the fall of 2012.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Jeff noticed the same sign, in two very different places, and that's a bit of a mystery.
Jeff adds the skyline on the sign bears no resemblance to what's actually in Lake Charles, LA.
Anyway, Jeff says "hello" to all his friends and family in Luzerne County.
Thanks for the picture.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Mount Airy has the distinction of being the poorest performing casino in the state.
The picture above is a state gaming official, snapping the seal on a trailer filled with casino gaming tables-- craps, poker, roulette, black jack, etc.
Mount Airy has had slot machines for a few years. Table games seemed like the next logical step, and the state okayed that earlier this year. It's all the same to me. Gambling is gambling.
I've tried the slot machines elsewhere. Meh. I'm bored after five minutes. I just don't get it.
While table games involve smarts and strategy-- more than luck and pushing buttons, don't expect to see me with cards or dice in my hand. First, that stuff it too intimidating for me. I've played casino games on my computer, but it's different when real money is at stake. I like money. I don't want to lose it.
I do understand the thrill gambling offers, and if that's what you want to do, there will soon be expanded opportunities.
Table games at Mohegan Sun and Mount Airy start in mid July.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The 89 year old former UPI White House correspondent, and current Hearst columnist resigned this week, after saying something really dumb last week. Thomas suggested Jews get out of Palestine, and go back to Germany and Poland. As others have said, we know how well things worked for the Jews, in those places, in past decades.
I was never a Helen Thomas fan. While I respect her longevity, her bias and agenda were clear. She didn't question at White News conferences. She disrespectfully pestered and harangued. Helen Thomas stayed at the party too long. She should have retired years ago. In a Washington Post story, CBS Radio News correspondent Mark Knoller said Thomas often asked questions that embarrassed other reporters. Writer Tucker Carlson, on Tony Kornheiser's radio show yesterday, called Thomas "a horrible person." Her questions were "screechy and pompous."
Having said that, this is still America, and you have the right to say stupid things. Ask Don Imus. Those who disagreed with Helen Thomas should have stated their case, and engaged in a debate. Advocating her professional execution-- the end of her career, as many did, was far too much. Helen Thomas might be an idiot, but even idiots have constitutional protection.
Everyone like to leave on their own terms. We are a country of second chances. I'm sorry it didn't work out for Helen Thomas. She should have known better.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
It describes Richard Emanski perfectly. Emanski was supposed to be sentenced Monday for bribing a member of the Wilkes-Barre Area school board.
Let me back up for a second. After you are found guilty or plead guilty, there's something called a "pre sentence investigation." County, or in this case, federal court officials prepare a report on your background. It goes to the judge to help him decide the sentence.
Emanski's pre sentence report shows he engaged in other improper, and possibly illegal conduct. At sentencing, the issue arose whether the judge had the right to consider this other behavior, even though Emanski had not been charged with anything beyond the school board member bribery.
Lawyers on both sides have to prepare briefs for the judge. The case raises a lot of interesting points, but you cannot overlook the fact that Richard Emanski was caught in the act of being himself.
Smile! You're on Candid Camera.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The late great Art Linkletter used to do a little two minute feature for the Mutual Broadcasting System back in the 80's. It was called "What's Right with America." The feature was just what the name says. Today is my little version of "What's Right with Radio."
Live and local is always better than canned and satellite, but if you're going to do the latter, at least do it right. Shannon does it the way it's supposed to be.
Live and local is always better than canned and satellite, but if you're going to do the latter, at least do it right. Shannon does it the way it's supposed to be.
Monday, June 7, 2010
As we begin hurricane season, at least one learned mind agrees with me. Randy Tatano has a long resume in the TV news business. He has a really good industry blog called TV News Grapevine. Check out Wednesday's entry. Randy says it better than I ever could, and he's been there.
The National Hurricane Center predicts an active storm season, but we've heard that before-- and they've been wrong. Still, there's plenty of room for unnecessary drama, and even more room for people to get hurt.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
NBA commissioner David Stern receives an honorable mention. The NBA became the first league to move the majority of its games to cable. The playoff system is a mess, and it stretches on far too long.
After this week, Bud Selig is firmly cemented at the top of the worst executive list. This is the guy who blindly presided over the steroid era, and he really missed up the situation concerning the blown call that cost Armondo Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers a perfect game. The umpire, Jim Joyce, manned up and admitted he made a mistake. Selig should have corrected the error.
Back in the mid 70's, the Oakland Athletics conducted a fire sale-- getting rid of a few star players before they left the team via free agency. Owner Charlie Finley decided to make the trades and sales so he got something in return, rather than having his players just walk away at the end of the season. Bowie Kuhn voided the deals, saying it was in the "best interest of baseball."
Bud Selig should give Galarraga the perfect game. Galarraga earned it. It's also in the best interest of baseball.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
You can tell it's an election year. U.S. representatives are handing out money like the missiles fly tomorrow.
We received a phone call in the newsroom a couple weeks ago, a couple days after the election. A viewer saw the ad Pat Toomey is running in his race versus Joe Sestak. The caller got on us for running an old ad. After all, the primary was over. We had to tell her it was an ad for the UPCOMING election-- the one in November.
It's too early to be this hot.
The Pocono 500 was always a pleasant oasis in the desert of professional sports commercialism. This year, it's over. Get ready for the Gillette Fusion Pro Glide 500. It really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?
Jeff Zucker is getting more than $30 million to leave NBC. Not bad for a guy who nearly destroyed the network. How do I get a deal like that?
Speaking of former NBC employees, CBS is working on a new version of "Pyramid" with Andy Richter as the host. Richter's funny, and as long as he doesn't try to become more important than the game, it could work.
A state expert says Luzerne County is doing an inadequate job of storing its records. Raise your hand if you're surprised.
The FBI is now looking at local school districts and the way they awarded school bus contracts. There's a juicy oyster just waiting to be shucked.
I want my Silly Bandz.
If Ken Griffey, Jr. had stayed healthy...
Ford is killing its Mercury line after 71 years. It was conceived as a bridge between everyman Fords and expensive Lincolns. I don't think I've ever known someone who owned a Mercury.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Caring is so subjective.
I think President Bush really cared about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He did a lousy job of showing it, and there were things his administration clearly could have done much, much better.
I think President Obama cares about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Having said that, his administration could have come up with a more effective response.
I think BP cares about the gushing well, and it comes down to one simple reason. It's costing them a lot of money. It's always about the money. Corporations care when big money is involved.
It's like what happens any time there's a big power outage. The newsroom is flooded with calls from people who claim the power company doesn't care, and is taking its time restoring service. Hello!?!?!? The electric company doesn't make money unless your home is hooked up and that meter is spinning. A slow response is bad business. BP isn't making money unless that gulf oil is refined into gasoline, it's in your tank, and you're burning it up to get to Starbucks for a Caramel Frappucino. Fixing a blown out deep well is new territory, and the best minds in the world can't even figure it out.
Corporate responsibility? Pride? Image? I'm sure they're factors as well, but follow the money.
Seeing those oil covered beaches and birds is sickening.
We just have to face the fact that every move these days is run through the political filter.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly has "retired." He was recently charged with taking bribes. Reilly has been taking government paychecks for decades. Why have so many of those snared in the corruption investigation have been career courthouse and city hall types?
I had a feeling something was going to happen. The feds had been quiet for a while. Last week, Wilkes-Barre businessman Thom Greco was charged with knowing about a crime, in this case, a bribe, and failing to report it. I've always had mixed feelings about Greco. He has big ideas. He's made a lot of money, and has started a lot of businesses. Unfortunately, things always find a way to get off the track.
They are their own worst enemy: The Joe Sestak/White House job offer thing has gone on far too long. Why have all parties involved struggled to get out in front of this?
I'm not a fan of prime time on MSNBC, but I stumbled on a Rachel Maddow segment the other night that was fascinating. It was about an underwater oil leak in 1979. It was in only 200 feet of water, and it took months to control. All you had to do was change the dates and location-- and it was identical to the current BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
I hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend.