Saturday, November 30, 2013

Andy's Angles: A Federal Case

Generally, I'm not a fan of modern structures being tacked on to historic, old buildings.  There are exceptions to every rule. 

Scranton's federal courthouse on North Washington Avenue is one case where it was done right.  The new portion is on the left.  The old section is to a right.  An industrial looking atrium connects the two, and it's fun to gaze upward at the steel and stone.

At the time the addition was considered, there were two options.  One was going out the back, and tearing down some very old and non historic buildings.  The other was the one the feds chose-- tear down a filled apartment building with office space on the first floor.  As is the feds' habit, they chose to take down the more productive of the two buildings.

At least, they designed it well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Scrapple

I'll spare you the usual anti Black Friday rant.  If you feel the desire to shop today, go nuts.

Always remember, if you hear a reporter say, or read "Today is the biggest shopping day of the year," the reporter is lazy and uninformed.  The biggest shopping day is actually the last Saturday before Christmas.

I swear this is true:  I was in a mini mart Monday morning.  Two employees were wondering what day Thanksgiving falls on this year.  I kid you not.  Thanks to Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday of November.  Maybe the mini mart workers skipped school and missed that lesson in history class.

I went to the gym very early Thanksgiving morning.  The temperature had dropped.  Roads were icy.  It was in the midst of a snow shower-- and I was more worried about encountering a drunk driver.

I love going to a supermarket on Black Friday.  First, it's empty.  Second, I enjoy watching employees try to make some dense out of the post holiday disarray.

I'm really tired of the discussions centering on the mediocre Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always getting Thanksgiving games.  It's tradition.  Deal with it.  I'd rather see the NFL spread around Thanksgiving games, but the Dallas/Detroit thing is really nothing to get upset over.

Alec Baldwin has lost his MSNBC show.  Who didn't see that coming?

"The Blacklist" really has to tone down the violence.  Blood was splattered everywhere Monday night, and there's apparently a lot more to come.  The show is clever.  It doesn't need the gore.

It's too bad that comet didn't totally survive its trip around the sun.  As I write this, there is conflicting evidence.

Mike Huckabee's radio show goes away in mid December.  It was on 200 stations.  I'm assuming they were not market leaders.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


There are some years it's harder than others. 

But, if you look hard, we all have something for which to be thankful.  It can be tiny, but it's there.

I am far luckier than I deserve to be,

Thank you for stopping by every day, and I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Thanksgiving

When you take a job in broadcasting, it's with the understanding that you'll be working odd hours, nights, weekends, overnights, and yes, even holidays.

I'm surprised how many newbies don't grasp that concept.  What are they being taught in college?  However, that's another story for another time.

I'm wondering if the same covenant applies to retail.  If you sign on to work at the typical mall store, you pretty much assume you'll be working somewhere between 10 AM and 9 PM.  Do they now tell you you're going to drag your butt away from Thanksgiving dinner to head to the store?

Yes, I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving.  Yes, I know that in a down economy, saving money is more important than ever.  Yes, I know a lot of companies/stores depend on a strong Christmas season to remain viable.

Still, the thought of shopping on Thanksgiving really doesn't work for me.

To each, his own.

Just remember to be kind to the person on the other end of the cash register tomorrow night.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Movie Star

I've done it again-- my second role in a major motion picture.

The first was a few years ago.  My voice was in Michael Moore's "Capitalism:  A Love Story."  It wasn't much, just a quick clip from one of our weekend morning broadcasts.  It dealt with another court appearance by crooked Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan.

To refresh your memories, Ciavarella and Conahan were key figures in the "Kids for Cash" scandal.  While the pair of thieves was never directly accused, nor pleaded guilty, nor convicted of DIRECTLY taking money for jailing juveniles, I remind of you of Judge Edwin Kosik's ruling when he threw out Ciavarella's plea agreement.  Kosik ruled Ciavarella, wrongly,  never took responsibility for the quid pro quo.  Ciavarella called his payments a "finder's fee, even though Kosik reasoned the government's evidence strongly showed otherwise.

And that brings us to my latest role-- a short appearance in the new "Kids for Ca$h" documentary.  It premiered in New York November 10th.  While I didn't see it, I'm told there is a scene with me doing a live report in front of the Federal Courthouse in Scranton, and chasing Ciavarella when he was given permission by the feds to sneak in the back door.

I remember the day vividly.  There was a well equipped video crew wandering around the area in front of the courthouse.  I inquired where they were from.  One guy mumbled an answer I couldn't hear because he apparently didn't want me to hear it.  He later asked if he could tape me doing my job.  I replied it's a free sidewalk.  Have at it.

And, that's how I wound up in the documentary.

Seeing it is not a burning desire, though I'm sure I'll take a look when it's shown up this way early next year.  I do wonder about the content.  It seems, rightly, to be focused on the thieves in black robes.  I wonder how much time is devoted to the incompetents who let it happen-- the enablers, who allowed the crime of the century to take place under their noses.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Unfinished Monday

"Enjoyed" isn't the right word, but I was thoroughly fascinated by all of last week's JFK coverage.

The Dan Rather saga has been documented earlier-- sloppy reporting at CBS, an insincere apology, a parting of the ways, Rather sued CBS, a judge tossed it out.  Still, it was sad CBS didn't use him on its Kennedy coverage.  It was even more sad to see Rather on NBC.

Another Scranton council meeting, another call for solutions, another week of blaming the usual suspects, and another week of not one good or new idea.

I can't say I'm an Alex Rodriguez fan, but I do like how he's defending himself.

Wilkes-Barre's mayor is the latest to join the "blame the media" club.

I had a talk with a friend in retail the other day.  Thanksgiving and Black Friday are still a few days away, and I can already see the pain in her eyes.

I'm sure you've seen and read the latest "nuclear" developments in Washington...  as if we need more reasons to shake our heads in disgust over our dysfunctional government.  This crosses party lines.  There's more than enough blame to go around.

The weapons deal with Iran might not make President Obama as many friends as he'd hoped.  Obama joins the group of presidents who started with great promise and popularity, only to see the wheels come off.

Sears and KMart are still losing money.  It's not hard to see why.

It's one area where Joe Snedeker and I are in complete agreement:  long term winter forecasts are useless.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have five wins.  Back in September, I would have been happy with a 4-12 season.  The mediocrity of a .500 season is within their grasp.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Andy's Angles: Animals

It's a couple more from last month's visit to Merli Sarnoski Park near Carbondale before we move on to other things.  This is where Lackawanna County Sheriff's Department keeps its horses, and these guys were taking it easy on a fall morning.

They weren't alone.  A goat was in a near by pen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Andy's Angles: Boats

November can be a color-less month, so this weekend, it's a reminder of the recent past-- when the trees were filled with color.

Above is another from the Merli Sarnoski Park collection, and even though it was taken in mid-fall, it reminds me of winter.  The boats are out of the water, and this is likely where they'll stay for the next several months.

The boat launch won't see much activity until spring.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I was 23 months old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so I can't offer anything to the "Where you when..." discussion.  I'm guessing I was napping in my crib.

I will say that I continue to be fascinated by the events of that day, and the way television covered it.  There is a ton of material on You Tube, and if you have a moment or two, take a look.  Cronkite is regarded as the star of the day, but watch David Brinkley's 1 AM commentary.  There was none better.

I tend to follow the Bob Schieffer handbook.  The long time CBS correspondent was a newspaper reporter in Fort Worth that day.  He says no one has ever been able to prove to him that there was more than one man involved in Kennedy's murder.  CBS and other organizations have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting their own investigations.  They all came to the same conclusion.  The conspiracy theories, however, will not die.

Former CBS correspondent Dan Rather pointed out that uncovering a conspiracy would have been the story of the century. Many reporters and organizations tried. Tried hard. None succeeded. It's likely there was no conspiracy.

I tend to side with the "lone assassin" theory.  I'm not totally sold on it.  If you look at the time, speed, accuracy and skill it took to fire those shots, I'm not sure Lee Harvey Oswald was the guy.  Arlen Specter's "Magic Bullet" theory, the one that has a single bullet bouncing all over Dallas County, also adds doubt to the official version of the events of 11.22.63.  On top of that, there was a lot of cloak and dagger stuff at the time, involving Cuba and the Soviet Union.

For every flaw in the investigation, there is something that backs it up. The flaws can be explained away.

Even if there was a lone gunman, I doubt we'll ever know everything about the Kennedy assassination, and that's a tragedy in and of itself.  It's been fifty years.  Open the books.

You wonder what would have happened if Kennedy had lived.  Would Vietnam have been better-- or worse?  He did exercise questionable judgement at times.  Case in point:  the Bay of Pigs.  There were questions surrounding his personal life.  JFK was no saint.  He was a proponent of the space program.  Kennedy had the ability to inspire, which is a trait few elected leaders have.

ABC News, during a Sunday morning discussion, pointed out that there was no mention of civil rights in Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address. I couldn't believe it. I read it for myself. It's true. It seems like Kennedy really saw the threat of a third world war. He might not have seen the discontent in his own nation.

For me, the most haunting video of the day is not the Zapruder film of the actual shooting.  It was the film made as John and Jackie got off Air Force One at Love Field.  The looked so happy, and it was all about to come to an end.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Past Tense

I had camera in hand while wandering around Scranton Sunday afternoon, and I stumbled across this scene-- railroad tracks with the old Erie Lackawanna passenger station, now a hotel, in the distance.  You can also see the General Dynamics plant back there, formerly a locomotive shop.  You have to marvel at the hundreds of thousands of people who witnessed this view over the decades.

Scranton was a prosperous, thriving city at one time.  Industrial.  Jobs.  You wonder what it would take to return to those days.  The answer is simple:  a miracle.

Our industrial past is gone for good.  We are a service economy.  Scranton has to embrace what it can do-- jobs in health care, education.  Taxes not withstanding, a reasonable cost of living and it's relatively safe to live here.

As noted earlier, there is no magic wand.  Scranton is in deep trouble.  Deep, deep trouble.  On the other hand, as Ronald Reagan used to say, there's such a huge pile of manure, there has to be a pony in there somewhere.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

While I Was There...

After visiting the wheelchair basketball tournament at the University of Scranton Sunday morning, I wandered to the gym next door and stumbled on to a wrestling tournament.

Wrestling isn't my game, but watching it in person was interesting, nonetheless.
In the word of Mr. Spock, "fascinating."  The gym wasn't packed.  Far from it.  However, there was a small group of devoted fans.

Once again, I tried my hand at sports photography.  Thanks to Picasa's "crop" feature, some of the pictures didn't turn out half bad.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mr. Curiosity

I saw it on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.  Color me curious.  I had to see it for myself.  The University of Scranton was holding a wheelchair basketball tournament to raise money for people with disabilities.  I stopped by Sunday after work, paid my admission fee, and even bought a tee shirt.

A lot of young people from the U and other area colleges were here, and it was interesting to watch young adults, in fine physical condition, struggle with their time in a wheelchair.  It was an eye opener.

I have to admit, there was a selfish reason for being here.  I rarely shoot sports, and I wanted to see what I could do.  Amateur wheelchair basketball doesn't move particularly fast, and I was able to get off some good shots.

It gives you a new respect for wheelchair athletes, and people who photograph sports for a living.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Twisted Logic

Apologies for piling on the city of Scranton.  Unfortunately, it's too easy to resist, and there are things that need to be talked about.

It looks like property owners will have to swallow a more than fifty per cent property tax increase, plus a huge hike in the garbage fee.

I'm sorry.  So many people live pay check to pay check.  It has to be a struggle.

I watched the council meeting Thursday night, and there are a lot of people who just don't get it.  What options do you have?   That one's easy.  None.

The city faces massive debt.  Income doesn't meet expenses.  Bankruptcy isn't a magic wand, and there's no guarantee the courts will see it your way.  The state isn't willing to help.  The only answer is a tax increase.

The city's largest employer and economic driver is the University of Scranton.  An element has so effectively and efficiently antagonized the U, it will never provide some of the economic relief that's needed.  Yes, the University has taken property off the tax rolls.  On the other hand, it provides jobs and it's the only thing that's actually drawing people to the city.  Do you think people come here for the mall and to look at rusting train cars?

A lot of people are pushing for meetings to come up with ideas.  It's a nice sentiment, but there's no magic wand.  Scranton has to raise money fast, and the only way to do that is to raise taxes.

You knew it was going to happen.  Some at Thursday's meeting chose to play the "blame the media" card.  Excuse me, but I don't think Local TV LLC, Nexstar, Times~Shamrock, Entercom, Cumulus, Bold Gold, et al made any of the decisions that helped Scranton bungle its way into near bankruptcy.

And then, there is the state legislature.  I watched the debate over giving small games of chance to taverns and bars last week.  One speaker says tavern owners are owed the games because we took away their smoking.  Uh, no.  Smoking was banned because it was the right thing to do, and right things need no reward.  I don't think small games of chance won't hurt anyone, but let's do it for the right reason.  If you really want to help tavern owners, level the playing field and expand the smoking ban.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Andy's Angles: All Lit Up

Today, it's another pre dawn shot of the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, and another of my ill fated attempts to be artsy.

Today, it's a focus on the columns.  This is the south entrance to the courthouse, the one that looks down River Street, toward Market Street.

The courthouse is currently undergoing some renovations, and there are those who will disagree with me, but I hope they change the type of lighting.  The current floodlights cover the building with yellowish golden light.  I'd like to see those energy saving LED's used here, which give off white light.

It's just a thought.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Andy's Angles: NightWatch

Well, actually, early morning watch...

I took this photo of the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre just before a recent sunrise.

The spotlights and shadows make for an interesting image.  This is the view from River Street.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Tomorrow is the blog's 9th anniversary.

I actually found my first post, November 16, 2004:

Nov. 16th
Okay, this is a big deal-- my first blog. I actually jumped at the opportunity to do this. I then wondered what to write. I'll start with the question I'm asked the most: "Do you and Snedecker really hate each other?" The answer is "yes and no." Off the air, we get along great. On the air, we have different styles. I'm not one for chatting, and Joe likes to talk. He has a playful sense of humor. I'm a little more to the point. When I try to move things along, people think I'm being mean to Joe, but I'm really not. My desk in the newsroom is near the weather office, and we usually manage to have a lot of laughs. Joe and I are scheduled to work together New Year's morning. Set your VCR's for that one. You can begin 2005 with the Odd Couple of local television. 
Thanks for stopping by, and reading my first blog entry.

I'll admit that it wasn't much.  At least, I kept it going for a long, long time.  The old horse still has the energy for a couple more laps.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Scrapple

Explain a universe where we can't have a bag of microwave popcorn because it contains trans fats, but we can have all the cigarettes we want-- and we can smoke them where others have to breathe in the toxic gas.

Hazing/bullying on any level is unacceptable.  It's mind boggling that "professional" and "adult" athletes can engage in such behavior.  I hope the NFL commissioner comes down on the practice, and comes down hard.

The latest Wilkes-Barre murder victim and suspect were both out on bail on drug offenses.  As the great Kevin Jordan taught me, the purpose of bail is not to punish.  It's to guarantee appearance at future court proceedings.

When "Anchorman2" is the big movie of the holiday season, you know box office choices this year will be poor.

No matter how old you get, it's still fun to kick through leaves accumulated at the curb.

If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving and want to shop the day away, that's OK with me.  Still, I'm old school and think stores should be closed.

It's sad to see John C. McGinley's talents wasted with "Ground Floor" on TBS.

Tuesday morning's snow was pretty, but dangerous.  It was a little depressing-- a reminder of a long, dark, cold winter ahead.

I miss baseball.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First Person: Murder and Snow

My Tuesday morning assignment was simple enough, and one I've done several times before-- another homicide in Wilkes-Barre.  This one was the 13th of 2013, an astounding number for a city the size of Wilkes-Barre.

All the information was available on-line, and from the Newswatch 16 crews that worked the story the night before.  A woman was dead.  A young man was under arrest.

It's safe to say Wilkes-Barre has an image problem.  The elected officials and the people who run law enforcement (not the men and women on the street) are fond of saying many of the killings were not random acts.  It's bad guy on bad guy crime.  Be that as it may, somebody has to answer for this.  Somebody has to explain this.  Somebody has to step up and own this.

You would think the powers that be would like to trumpet the fact that an arrest was made quickly.  An alleged bad guy is off the streets, where he can do no harm.  Yes, that's what you would think.  Think again.  The suspect was hustled off to jail.  Those in charge were quick to disperse.  I strongly suspect, they gave up the opportunity to tout the good police work that led to the arrest because they didn't want to handle the questions that would follow.  Questions like "Why is this still happening?"  "Why can't you get a handle on Sherman Hills?"  "What good are all those cameras?"  "How do we stop this?"  "How can you attract businesses and residents to Wilkes-Barre when there's the appearance of an out of control crime problem?"

Okay, city and county officials, you know the questions.  You know where to find me when you want to answer.  Name the time and place.  I'll be there.

The mayor answered some questions later in the day.  It really wasn't anything we hadn't heard before.  In all fairness, he can't be held accountable for the deterioration of society.  On the other hand, the powers that be aren't inspiring much confidence in their abilities, either.

After our last live update for Newswatch 16 This Morning, it was time to switch gears.  Nothing new was happening with the homicide.  It would be another few hours before we could get a look at the arrest papers.  We have ample manpower in Wilkes-Barre to take over the story.

A producer, an assignment editor, photographer Corey Burns and I all agreed.  Let's move on to the snow.  It was still falling.  School cancellations and delays were piling up.  We were getting e-mails and calls about problems in the Moscow area, and that's where we headed.  The photo you see above is Route 690, near the schools, in Moscow.

We found vehicles scattered about Interstate 380, accidents, crawling traffic, tow trucks and Penndot trucks.  The video was there.  The interviews were there, and it all came together rather quickly.  We hustled back to the office and put together a "Travels with..." story for our noon broadcast.

I'm a rather harsh critic of my work, but I was happy with how this one turned out.  Thanks Corey, and those who chose to share their snow stories.  I'm sure there will be a few more of those before spring arrives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PS: Election Day

Now that election day is officially one week in the rear view mirror, let's put forth a few digested thoughts.

If George Washington was elected Scranton mayor, with five members of the Founding Fathers on council, the city would soon be in major trouble.  Income doesn't match expenses.  There's massive debt.  The math just doesn't work.  I've yet to hear one solid solution.  There has to be something more than blaming the non profits.  That act never had a lot of merit to begin with, and it's grown tired.  The incoming mayor said he wants a total accounting of where the money comes from and where it goes.  Huh?  We don't have that already?

I wish Bill Courtright the best of luck.  As Scranton goes, so goes the area.  It's the largest city around here, and even if you live elsewhere in the market, it's still "Scranton" to the outsiders.  Our image is riding on this.

Some more things to ponder-- the big newspaper endorsed Courtright's opponent.  The ink on the ballots wasn't even dry before the paper published another editorial, calling Courtright's victory a win for the status quo, and look where the status quo got us.  Mr. Courtright can blame a lot of the city's problems on his predecessors, but it appears he won't have much of a honeymoon.

Lesson 1:  Some candidates that went nuclear negative during the campaign lost.

Lesson 2:  Some candidates who drew more attention to their personality than the job they do also lost.  People want quiet confidence, not silly showmanship.  A guy who managed to get himself elected using the tactic a few years ago nearly wound up in jail because he went overboard with a little bit of power.

What happened to the Lackawanna County Republican party?

Turnout was around 30 per cent.  Sad.

Two exceptionally tight races in Schuylkill County shows every vote counts.

Bring on Vote 2014.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

I've often said that a display, any kind of display, doesn't have to be elaborate to send a strong message.  At Marywood University in Scranton, for the second year in a row, it's 6,700+ flags-- one for every soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I've bashed my alma mater in this space over the years, but I'm proud of the Student Veterans Alliance for doing it, and thrilled the administration allowed it.
Please, take a moment to remember what the day is all about.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Andy's Angles: Monument

Today, a look at what is at the base of that Nicholson flag pole I showed you yesterday.

Each flag and marker is dedicated to a branch of the service.  The monument remembers a soldier killed in 1918.  There's a lot of history in this cemetery, on a hill, overlooking the town.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Andy's Angles: Veterans Day Weekend

As you can see from the header, I recently spent a little time with the camera in Nicholson.  These flags were flying over Nicholson Cemetery, on a blustery mid fall morning.

The American flag is a powerful symbol, and the POW/MIA flag isn't far behind.

Friday, November 8, 2013


When will Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County learn?

Time and again, we've seen historic old buildings deteriorate until the point they have to be condemned and demolished.  It's happened to the Hotel Sterling.  The Irem Temple on North Franklin Street and the old New Jersey Central train station on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard are on the endangered list.  Both are rapidly deteriorating, while officials sit on their hands and do little, if anything.

Last week, Wilkes-Barre condemned the cluster on South Main Street you see above.  The mayor says the buildings are in danger of falling down.  The really sad thing here is Wilkes-Barre owns some of the buildings.  Someone was asleep at the switch for allowing the deterioration to get to this point.

There are two businesses here, and both fear their days are numbered.  Government failed them.  It's also failing our kids because we're losing chunks of our history on a weekly basis.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

About the Cover

A few weeks ago, I went yammering on about what a wonderful time of year this is, and how even a grey, colorless day can have charm.

Yesterday, I set out to prove my point.  I jumped in the car and headed to Nicholson.  You can't take a bad picture of the Tunkhannock Viaduct.  It looks good even though the leaves are off the trees, the sky is grey, and the corn field has lost its green.

I know I was late with the new header this month.  Sorry, and thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vote 2013 Post Script

The numbers are in.  We know the winners and the losers.  Now, it's time to try to make some sense out of it.

First, there really are no losers.  Politics is a tough and expensive sport.  Kudos to those who choose to enter the arena.  There are times I think I'd like to serve.  Running for office is a completely different animal.

I made the rounds yesterday, and talked with others who did the same.  There was a common thread:  disappointing turnout.  As I've said before, local races really do have a big impact on your life.  It's unfortunate that turnout is so much lower than in presidential elections.

My assignment yesterday was to report on the Scranton mayoral election.  Republican James Mulligan was first to vote.  Below is a shot of Mulligan and his family crossing Columbia Street, on their way to the polling place at Robert Morris Elementary.

I was a little surprised at the Mulligan campaign.  After he was chosen to replace a candidate that bailed, I thought there would be an under financed, token effort.  Mulligan and his people put a lot in to it.

Above, Newswatch 16 photographer Dave Jones gets some video of Mulligan and family, inside the polling place.

Current mayor Chris Doherty votes at the same place, and I thought he was the most interesting character of the day.  Doherty strode in, looking very relaxed.  After four years on council and 16 in the mayor's office, he's leaving public service.  Doherty said he'd make an announcement on his future, after leaving office in January.  I suspect we'll see his name on a ballot in 2014.
As I noted on Newswatch 16 at Noon, Doherty inherited a city in financial distress, and he leaves a city in financial distress.  He believes Scranton is in better shape than it was 12 years ago.  Doherty asserts crime is low, people live downtown, and the park system is better.  I'm not sure how history will view the Doherty administration.  There were some bruising budget battles.  The city flirted with bankruptcy.  He made massive cuts in the fire department, cuts that were later reversed.  Scranton is in a huge financial hole, and I'm not sure it can recover.  I will say that Doherty always got on camera and didn't hide from the issues.

The rest of my day was spent at the Keyser Valley Community Center on North Keyser Avenue.  It's one of my favorite polling places.  It's usually busy, and that means a lot of candidates stop by to campaign in person.  If you want to know what's happening, spend some time at Keyser Valley.
This is also where Democratic Scranton mayoral candidate Bill Courtright votes.  That's the candidate and some family members above.

Democrats enjoy a huge registration edge in Scranton.  Courtright appeared to be the favored candidate of city workers and their families.  That's a big block of votes, so the race was Courtright's to lose.

Below, Newswatch 16 photographer Steve Smallwood shoots video of Courtright and family signing in at the polls.

Courtright won by ten percentage points, and while that's a lot, consider that huge voter registration edge Democrats have in Scranton.  Mulligan wrapped up a decent number.  It shows voters want a new face, but it still wasn't enough to put Mulligan over the top.

Democrats swept Lackawanna County's row offices.  A campaign manager for one Republican candidate complained to me that the county Republican party did nothing to help his guy.  Republicans have been pasted on the county level in recent years.  It should serve as a wake up call to the party, but so far, there are no signs of that.

In a nasty district justice race in the Pittston area, Alexandra Kokura won.  The guy who went nuclear negative first lost.  There's a lesson there.

Another lesson:  don't get charged with waving a gun at a repo man.  Patrick Reynolds lost, big time, in his attempt to become Schuylkill County sheriff.

Luzerne County voters ended Carolee Medico Olenginski's attempt at a political comeback.  She lost the controller's race to Michelle Bednar.  It wasn't that close.

Christine Holman has a 67 vote lead over Karen Byrnes Noon for district attorney in Schuylkill County.  The official vote count and the tallying of absentee ballots should be interesting.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie's victory was declared one minute after the polls closed last night.  He won by a huge margin.  The national Republican party has to sit up and take notice of that.  He's one of the county's big stars, no pun intended.

Now that the election is over, it's time to think about exit interviews and inauguration coverage.  I'll start building some "Vote 2014" graphics.  It will be an interesting year, with races for state house and senate, plus U.S. House and Pennsylvania governor.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Election Day

It's an off year election, and traditionally, turn out is low.  That's sad.  Electing mayors, councilmen, and school board members can have a bigger influence on your life than senators, representatives, and even the president.

As with all election days, I'm pumped.  Election days are the Super Bowls of the news business.  I'll do my standard thing-- preview some big races, check turnout, file a report for the noon broadcast, and hand things off to the rest of the staff to do the really hard work-- get the numbers, and tell you what they mean.

Time permitting, check this space for an update or two or three during the day.  I'll try to tweet once in a while @andypalumbo1228.

Also, look for a little analysis here tomorrow morning.

>>> 3:00 AM UPDATE:  For some reason, a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich breakfast at a truck stop has become an election morning tradition, and today was no different.  It's usually busy at 2:00 AM.  Today, I had the place to myself.  When I hit the office, I tweaked a script due to some late developments.  My task now is to check logistics-- ways to get video of the most candidates and the most voters in the most efficient amount of time.  It can be done.

>>>8:00 AM UPDATE:  Temporarily back in the office after a cold morning at Scranton polling place at Robert Morris Elementary.  Interesting times-- Chris Doherty and James Mulligan voted minutes apart.  It was a case of the soon to be past meeting the possible future.

>>>10:45 AM UPDATE:  Hanging out at a polling place on North Keyser Avenue in Scranton for a while-- beautiful day for early November. Turnout here ins't great. It's easy to get a spot in the parking lot, and that's rare. As I tweeted a short time ago, there are more people handing out cards and stickers than voters. Mayoral candidate Courtright says he's heard this is among the busier polling places in the city.

>>>1:45 PM UPDATE:  The noon live shot went off smoothly.  I actually liked the piece-- one current mayor and the two who want to replace him.  After that, it was back to the office to tie up a few loose ends, and then, home, with a stop at my polling place on the way.  I was voter # 100, and the poll workers say that's on the low side.  They expected more because it's a local election with plenty of dissension   I just get the feeling people are fed up and staying home.  The nonsense in Washington has to be playing a role.

>>>7:30 PM UPDATE:   Really not much to say...  snoozed the afternoon away, got up, checked some Tweets.  Most say turnout today was disappointing.  I'm going through some photos I took today for tomorrow's blog while waiting for the polls to close.  It really shouldn't take long for trends to develop.

>>>8:00 PM UPDATE:   Polls closed.  Let's count!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vote 2013

It's the eve of the general election, and much of my work has already been done.  The briefing book has been read and digested.  Election preview stories have been written and edited.

All that's really left to do is show up tomorrow, introduce the preview stories and watch the voters head to the polls.

Outside of a few big races, it's safe to say there isn't a lot of excitement this year.  Looking over the ballot where I vote, there are a lot of uncontested races, and that's sad.

It's also sad to see some alleged pundits, in print, broadcast, and internet, dissing the election.  I will agree that there have been more interesting cycles.  That's no excuse to demean the process.  It only gives more incentive for people to stay home.

Regardless, every election is important.  Do your part tomorrow.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Andy's Angles: WARM News

This is the other part of WARM 590's control room, circa mid/late 80's.  This is the side used by the news people.

During the 80's renovation, a second news microphone was installed so we could co-anchor newscasts.  The news podium was directly across from the control board I showed you yesterday.

I hated those microphones.  The mounting was awkward, and we never sounded quite right.  They were later replaced with another brand and another way to mount them.  It improved-- a little.

Built into the bottom of the podium is space for three cartridge machines.  This is how replaced reporter stories and sound bites from newsmakers.  They were start of the art at the time, but they made a lot of noise when you hit the start button, and the tape inside occasionally malfunctioned.  The cart machines, too, were replaced in time.  Unfortunately, the machines were bigger and didn't fit in the slots.  The new cart machines were placed off to the side, complicating the operation.  You had to hit a remote start button, and pray you selected the right one.

The big thing on the left is one of the equipment racks.  This is where we monitored the output of the transmitter, took the readings, and switched the directional antenna pattern at sunrise and sunset.

Someone taped up a photo.  I don't remember who it was.

The big window on the right looked into the production room, which also doubled as a talk studio.

Beneath the window is an album rack, a remnant from a bygone era.

WARM moved out after I left for a job at the old channel 22.  The building is now headquarters for that Avoca Interstate 81 interchange improvement project, also known as a solution in search of a problem.

I can't believe it's been 22 years since I left.  There were good times and bad here, but I value the experience.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Andy's Angles: Inside WARM

I worked at WARM 590 AM, part and full time, from April 1981 to September of 1991.  It was my first professional employment and I was thrilled to have it.

I walked in the door as a college sophomore, working weekend overnights, running the religion and public affairs shows.  There wasn't much to do-- change the tapes every half hour, straighten up a little, try to stay awake.

I was going through some old photos recently, and came upon this.  WARM's control room went through a renovation in the mid 80's, and this is a shot of the new "board."  Some might call it a mixer.  It was the analog control panel of the radio station.

I'm guessing it was taken in 1987, maybe sooner.  I know I was on the air because I recognize one of my pens in the shot, a PaperMate Profile.  It sits on top of the paper program log.  This was simply a list of commercials that had to be played, and things you had to do, such as sports and public service announcements.

The easel on top of the board was for the forecast, memos, live commercial copy, etc.

The big window looked out into the newsroom and the lobby.

I remember my first time looking at the board.  It was set up in a back room for a while so we could get used to it before it was installed in the main control room.  There are a lot of sliders and buttons there, and it was rather intimidating.  After you got used to it, it wasn't so bad, and it was much better than the ancient piece of equipment it replaced.

It might look crude now, but at the time, it was state of the art.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gym Rat

It's the first anniversary of my gym membership.  I wouldn't call myself a gym rat, but I faithfully stop by two, three, or even four times a week.  The routine varies little-- a half hour on the bike, a half hour on the treadmill, and a half hour on the elliptical.  I've worked myself up to some decent resistance and incline levels.  I then drag myself to the shower and limp out to the car.

I do feel a little better, and I've made a few new friends.

In the "Does It Really Work" department...  most of my gym wardrobe comes from the big box discount stores, but I did invest in a couple of those high tech shirts-- the ones designed to keep you dry by wicking moisture away from your body.  Yes, they really work, but I don't like them.  I much prefer my cotton tee shirts, in every color of the rainbow.  I enjoy peeling off a sweat soaked tee shirt after a gym session.  It might sound disgusting, but I view a soaked tee shirt with a sense of accomplishment.  It's almost like a report card.