Liz Randol lost her gun. Or misplaced it. Or loaned it to a friend and he lost it. Or he misplaced it. Or somebody stole it from him. Or the dog ate it.
I’m not sure how the Scranton Democratic mayoral candidate’s loaded Sig Sauer .380 wound up on a sidewalk near a bar she likes that is a block away from an elementary school in a residential neighborhood loaded with innocent kids and the occasional drug dealer.
All I know for sure is that disaster could have easily exploded in the city she wants to lead had a child or dealer with an itchy trigger finger found it.
A child could have died. A cop could have died. An older person out for a walk could have died.
Randol, 41, writes off the lost gun as an embarrassing mistake from which she can learn. The biggest lesson here is that, despite her Ph.D. in philosophy and teaching experience at the University of Scranton, despite awards and plaudits from local businesses and non-profits, despite county and state government connections and despite heartfelt applause from the young, beautiful people who adore her, Randol is no longer mayoral material.
Too smart for her own good, Randol let us down. Nothing even remotely hip blossoms from negligence that could have easily killed somebody.
Scranton has enough problems without putting anybody in the mayor’s office who will not walk voters and taxpayers every step of the way through such a drastic story. We need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so we can decide for ourselves if Randol is responsible enough to lead this distressed city, let alone the police department.
I stress lead – not loan. Randol refuses to publicly identify her “friend,” to whom she now claims she loaned her gun after target shooting in November 2011 in Wayne County. He liked the gun, she said, and offered to clean it. But that’s not what police say Randol told them when they called to tell her they had her loaded firearm. Police say the woman who would be mayor told them she did not recall when she last saw her gun – loaded or otherwise – and never mentioned target shooting or loaning her gun to a friend.
Still, bells and sirens should have immediately gone off in the cops’ heads. Randol’s head must have been ringing. I imagine it still is. I know mine is.
So I decided to start from the beginning and try to prove exactly how this mayoral candidate’s loaded gun wound up on the street outside a bar a block away from an elementary school in the city Randol vows to lead into a brighter future.
Scranton police told me that a good citizen had found the loaded gun, thought that part of Prescott Avenue was in Dunmore rather than Scranton and took the gun to the Dunmore police station. From there, Scranton police somehow got involved and eventually returned Randol’s gun without pressing her for answers about how such a gross violation of public safety had occurred.
Randol first publicly mentioned her “friend” when she and I spoke on the air last week after varying troubling versions of the gun incident surfaced – more than a year after the incident – some versions which Randol vigorously denied.
When I called last week for the report, Scranton police said they had just reopened the case because Randol had stopped by headquarters an hour or so earlier and asked for a copy of the report. Randol questioned the accuracy of the more-than-a-year-old report, saying that she first found out her gun was missing when police called and not before, as the report reportedly stated. I say “reportedly” because police have now sealed the report that has been available all year because the case is open again.
Scranton police said they knew nothing about Randol’s claim that she loaned her gun to anybody. For that reason, they said they wanted to interview that mystery man. I do not know whether that interview has taken place. After I identified and obtained a phone number for Mr. X from his place of public employment, he failed to return several detailed messages I left for him – not at all polite since I have known his family for decades.
As for Randol, I’ll have more questions for her later.
Same goes for her Democratic opponent, respected West Side martial arts teacher and city tax collector Bill Courtright, who has returned my calls and left anxious messages denying that he knows any details about the case or that some people accuse his supporters of spreading the gun story whenever and wherever possible.
I stopped by the Dunmore police station earlier thus week and asked to see their report concerning the man who found and turned in Randol’s gun. The acting chief said he’d check for the report and get back to me. He has not yet called to say whether a Dunmore police report exists.
Randol confirms that she has a concealed weapons permit that authorizes her to carry a loaded firearm. Mr. X is also said to be a concealed weapons permit carrier. Both permits should be immediately revoked for gross irresponsibility.
Irresponsibility sooner or later comes back to bite you - which, of course, is far better than getting shot.
Reckless Randol did this to herself and should lose her bid for mayor.
The following is presently making the rounds on Facebook.
This young man is articulate and has a flair for colorful language and descriptive prose. Scorpions, chiggers, and sand fleas. Great letter, a must read.
FROM A RECON MARINE IN AFGHANISTAN
From the Sand Pit. It's freezing here. I'm sitting on hard cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains , along the Dar'yoi Pomir River, watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.
I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but the scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.
The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.
It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin. But you know me, I'm a romantic. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.
Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that's your idea of a party. But the smell alone of those 'tent cities of the walking dead' is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.
I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of 'em, are Huns...actual, living Huns.. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other's barbarism. Cavemen with AK-47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.
I'm freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart.' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning.' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart.
They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it. OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I'm good at it.
Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here, because you have no idea what we're doing, and really, you don't want to know. We are your military, and we are doing what you sent us here to do.
It was such a pleasure to take part once again in the Pink Elegance Fashion Show in Scranton this past Sunday. The Komen for the Cure in NEPA event always gets a huge turnout. It seemed like only yesterday when I first walked the runway in a fabulous outfit from Nada & Company. I believe my first year was in 2009, about a year and a half past my breast cancer diagnosis.
My hair was really short then. I lost it all due to the chemotherapy and it took some time to grow back in. The story goes that many women end up with curly hair after chemo, but despite my wishes, mine grew back as poker straight as ever.
I skipped a year as a model at the show because I had gone through a grueling 10 hour reconstructive surgery that had me hospitalized for 7 days, and in recovery for weeks. I spent a number of those weeks doing daily hyperbaric treatments. If you’re claustrophobic like me, that takes a little getting used to. You get put into a coffin like capsule where it takes 7 to 10 minutes to change the pressure. The good news is it’s all glass you can see through. The bad news is if you freak out and want out, you have to wait those 7 to 10 minutes for the pressure to normalize or you’ll end up with the bends.
It was a long journey for me to get to where I am physically today. Aside from the quest for good health, breast cancer survivors struggle with the need to look normal again. For some, a breast prosthesis is the right choice. For others, reconstruction is necessary. As someone who had a double mastectomy complicated by radiation, it was pretty challenging. The skin on the radiated side was so damaged that the usual expansion process failed. After months and months of ‘expansion’- where the Dr. slowly fills an implant and stretches the skin, I was horrified one morning to see the skin torn and implant exposed. It had to be removed and I swore I would not go through another surgery.
After almost 6 months I decided to call Dr. Eric Blomain in Scranton. He said that I would need to undergo a dorsal flap procedure. Basically a muscle from the back is moved to the front along with skin from your back that replaces the radiation damaged skin. After weeks of healing, the expansion process begins. It was really difficult, but I am so happy I was able to get through it.
I tell you this because before my health scare, I had no understanding of breast cancer, let alone reconstruction. There are many people who assume that reconstruction is like getting a ‘boob job’. It is really very, very different.
There were many survivors at the Fashion Show, and it’s always good to hear how well they are doing, and see how beautiful they look. Dr. Blomain was there as an escort and told me how happy he is for me, and how great the surgery has turned out. I gave him a hug and thanked him. What else can you do or say for someone who has given you something that allows you to look into a mirror and not always see that terrible thing that happened to you?
Hats off to the wonderful women at Studio RD who unselfishly gave of their time and services making all of us pretty. Thank you to Suburban Casuals for the awesome dress, I loved it so much I bought it.
During Kathleen Granahan Kane’s campaign to become Pennsylvania’s first elected Democrat and first elected female attorney general, she adopted a powerful mantra that stressed her commitment to law and ethics and propelled her to victory.
Kane, 45, emblazoned the words “prosecutor, not politician,” on her campaign materials and promised that the good old boys who depend on special interests would have no friend in Harrisburg.
But just weeks after her swearing-in ceremony, Kane is playing politics with the worst of them - for a Republican, no less.
Witnesses claim to have seen her – maybe it was her twin sister or body double sent for security reason, for all I know – at a Sunday fundraiser for Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola, who is running for re-election.
Since Jarbola once employed Kane as an assistant district attorney and actually did a rousing television commercial defending and supporting Kane during the campaign, some people are calling it payback. Such mutual support and admiration is not unusual. You-scratch-my-ballot-I’ll-scratch-yours is the way bare-knuckle politics is played in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Unsavory as it is, politics as usual is the norm. But Kane made such a big deal about turning over the tables among the political status quo that people actually believed her. Disappointment among political supporters is understandable. But Kane rabid loyalists are justifying her appearance at Jarbola’s annual brunch by saying it shows how impartial and non-partisan Kane can be.
Only in hard coal country can such delusion pass for public service.
Because I didn’t attend, I can’t say for sure if Kane was the woman writing the check.
So on Monday I placed my first official call to the new attorney general’s press office and asked to speak with director of communications Ellen Melody. Kane’s spokeswoman was in a meeting, another aide told me. But she said she would check to see if I could get confirmation that Kane did attend the Jarbola fundraiser. When she returned, she informed me that I would have to talk with “the campaign” since the fundraiser was not an official attorney general’s appearance.
What campaign? Is Kane already running for re-election? Does she have a “Friends of Kathleen Kane” organization already in pace to solicit cash contribution for the future? And, since she is the attorney general, like it or not, any where she goes she is and will be identified as the attorney general. Whether or not she or her staff realizes it, public responsibilities come with the public service job.
Kane’s job description brings another significant issue into the discussion: Did the attorney general bring anybody from her staff to the political event?
Since Kane’s office refused to answer questions about the Jarbola event, I also can’t say for sure if Kane’s bodyguard Pat Reese attended with his boss. Reese regularly failed to return my phone calls when he served as Dunmore police chief so I don’t expect him to return my phone calls today.
Witnesses claim they saw Reese, who now serves the Commonwealth as “supervisor/special agent for executive protection detail” and heads up Kane’s personal security detail when she and other office staff travel in public.
For all I know, the person who looked like Reese might also have been a body double meant to throw off Kane’s critics. But witnesses are often accurate. So are taxpayers who now wonder if Kane’s attendance at a partisan political fundraiser – for which I’m absolutely told she wrote a check – involved a paid state staffer who was working security for her in his official capacity while attending a private political fundraising event.
OK, maybe Reese is allowed to go.
But what was he driving? Kane faces more troubling questions if she and Reese arrived in a state vehicle.
But maybe she borrowed one of the family trucks from her husband’s company that contributed about $2 million to her campaign, the same company that benefits from a lucrative state contract hauling liquor.
The contract and how the Kane family held onto it all these years is a story for another day.
Kane needs to start answering questions.
Unlike the recent press conference when Kane showed up with her lottery announcement and refused to take reporters’ questions, maybe this time Kane will recognize that the public has an inviolable right to know how public money is spent and how valuable state resources are accounted for.
Unless, of course, the prosecutor is more politician than even her most ardent admirers want to admit.
It is a fact that there is a tight little knot of listeners to our show in the morning (and in fact who probably listen to the radio every waking hour) who are, clinically speaking, half a bubble off plumb.
Pardon the medical jargon.
I'm glad for every listener we have even the ones who, if you could ask them 'What is 2 + 2?' once a day every day for a week, you might expect to hear a number that isn't 4 at least twice.
But they're not the listeners I'm talking about.
And I'm not talking about the majority of listeners who are normal and who listen because they enjoy if not agree with the things they hear and who, when they call or write, express themselves in a civil manner.
I'm talking about the ones who send vitriol-laden emails (sometimes signed, other times written behind the cowardice of a phony email address) and the ones who call and leave nine minute voicemails excoriating something they heard or think they heard on the radio.
Not sure that any of that select group will ever read this but if you do, please know that I tap '1 to delete this message' no more than ten seconds deep.
For those whose imbalance is expressed via the written though often anonymous word I have set up a rule in my email client that sends all yours directly to the Delete Folder marked Read.
Does that sound unreasonable? Mean? Dismissive? I'm not mean or unreasonable. I guess with you I am dismissive. Sorry.
Simply put, your problem is your problem but it's not mine.
Keep those cards and letters coming if you want. I get blowing off steam but better advice would be to find something constructive to do with your time.
The prospect of a real vampire among us probably seems far-fetched. After all, we may know people who can suck the life out of a situation, but they’re not normally hanging off the nape of the neck; they’re hogging the left lane on the way to work or telling us a tedious tale when we’re trying to eat a sandwich.
That’s why the announced appearance of Father Sebastiaan van Houten at the Everhart Museum in Scranton seemed so promising. The museum, hosting an exhibit called “The Blood is the Life,” invited the self-proclaimed vampyre (his spelling), impresario and host of the Vampire Ball in NYC, Paris and New Orleans to our town to discuss his unorthodox lifestyle.
Turns out vampires are a lot like the rest of us. Instead of sporting slicked back black hair accentuated by a widow’s peak, Father Sebastian looked like a roadie for Poison. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You certainly can’t judge a book by its cover, except in the case of books about vampires. I just checked a bunch on amazon.com quickly and they were all pretty lousy. The books remind me of the countless unsold romance paperbacks I used to dispose of in the book department at Kmart every few months, featuring some shirtless dude and a needy concubine in a flimsy corset. But, I digress.
The reason I went to this lecture was to learn about elegant and refined aristocracy with peculiar traits associated with lonely nights on the plains of Transylvania that culminate with an upended casket and a stake dripping with blood. Instead, I have the feeling that today’s vampires are busy watching “The Matrix,” gyrating to Lady Gaga at a trendy disco and considering the religious symbolism of Star Wars and “the force.” Vampires seem to enjoy the nightlife, but it’s more about partying on the graveyard shift instead of creeping around in one.
Father Sebastiaan explained there were vampires and non-vampires in the audience of his lecture, a point never demonstrated by anything tangible like tiny flapping wings or a sore throat. He discussed the three types of modern day practitioners of vampirism: Blood drinking vampires, psychic vampires who feed off of other people’s emotional energy and living vampires, embracing a philosophy and spirituality that is both ancient and modern.
Father Sebastian pointed out the blood drinkers think they need to quench their thirst for life in this bizarre fetish that lacks any sort of scientific validity. It also sounds pretty gross and is known to be dangerous and icky.
Psychic vampires are the most believable type of creatures to me. In the regular people’s world, we call them “social murderers.” They literally suck every ounce of energy out of the room and make you run the other way when you spot them at a distance of 100 yards. Or, you allow them to sap all your energy by recounting details about all nine innings of a t-ball game or what’s so great about the new episode of “American Idol.” Here’s my advice to you to avoid psychic vampirism: Run. Away. Now.
The living vampire sounds a lot like a club hopping hipster who enjoys black clothing because it hides red wine spills and makes you look thinner.
Eh, to each his own. At the end of the day, we learned Father Sebastiaan is pretty much like that effete college prof who wears groovy boots and an ankh, and is a master of the non-sequitur. Although you expect Dracula, turns out you’re the sucker.
My earliest memories of traveling to Ireland, the land of my grandfather’s birth, include the grand announcement for everyone in County Galway to hear that, “Stephen has come home.”
My cousin Mary made it clear that I was as much a part of the village “gathering” as anyone born and raised in that rugged west coast countryside in the little town of Cornamona. In the eyes of the Irish, my presence there was as much a part of Irish greatness as anyone or anything.
I have continued to come home for decades, as often as possible, making about a dozen trips in the 40 years since I first set foot in that splendid homeland.
Ireland is now welcoming anyone and everyone who wants the Irish experience for himself or herself. Calling the official welcome “The Gathering,” tourists far and wide are converging on the Republic of Ireland this year for a wondrous celebration of Irish hospitality. Combining food, drink, ancestry, art, literature, history and so much more, the Irish await its sons and daughters from afar who want to come home.
And you don’t need Irish blood to feel the comfort. Any authentic Irish gathering extends to anyone who wants to share the goodness.
If you’re shy, you can sit quietly by the turf fire, taking in the sights, sounds and smells, captured by your own new Irish thoughts and the magic of the moment. Extroverts can talk and even sing – I just might break out into a verse or two of “Tread on the Tail of Me Coat Ha Ha” or “Brannigan’s Pup.”
If you imbibe, a thick pint of Guinness, that the Irish claim is as nutritious as drinking a loaf of homemade brown bread, with its creamy lather and dark solace, sets a festive mood.
And, if we’re lucky, we’ll have legendary Dublin tour guide Tommy O’Reilly come out of retirement like he did last year to host us on a coach tour around the Republic with an inside track that only O’Reilly can provide.
I’m sounding like I’m going back, don’t I? That’s because I am and I want you to come along. With “The Gathering” already underway in the biggest cities and the smallest villages there’s no better time to make the trip.
Ireland is, indeed, a trip of a lifetime. If you’ve never seen the endless shades of green, you must if you’re able. If you’ve visited in the past, you must go again. And, I don’t think St. Pat would argue if you put a request in your prayers for the afterlife that includes a tiny cottage that overlooks the gentle lake and the ruins of the castle on Loch Corrib.
Ah, what a life – even an afterlife.
I’m planning the trip as we speak. I’ve already contacted O’Reilly and I’m thinking about seeing Mary one soft afternoon in Clifden where, well into her 90s, she is comforted by the sweet love and kindness of the staff of St. Ann’s where she lives as “The Queen of Cornamona.”
We’re off for eight days – from October 2-10, on a tour that takes us into Dublin for a traditional evening, off to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, into Trinity College to see the world-famous Book of Kells, the illuminated manuscript that monks produced under the roughest conditions, and the Ring of Kerry.
Blarney Castle is always a hit, even though I don’t need any more blarney. Spend a little time with me and you’ll know what I’m talking about. By then, though, you’ll have a little blarney of your own.
I’ve done Ireland for decades under many conditions. The CIE tours are beyond comparison because we’re looked after at every turn. And, because I’m accustomed to the good times, I l know the right corners to cut that will add further enjoyment to our trip.
It might sound stereotypic to say that knowing the angles is part of being Irish. But my Irish runs deep as the River Shannon and either you know the angles or you don’t. I do.
So there you have it, we off and running and I want you to sign on. Go to AAA.com or call 800-982-4306 for details.
“The Gathering” is a massive undertaking, unparalleled anywhere that will make this trip even more meaningful. The Irish understand the importance of coming home and being taken care of once you get there.
I know the feeling that deepens each time the plane touches down and I set foot on Irish soil. If you’ve ever been, you understand. If you’ve never been, join me to feel the emotion and the laughter as soon as you, too, set foot in this stunning land.
Yes, I’m going home again.
We’re all going home.
And when we do, there will likely come a time on the trip, when it suddenly dawns on you that, whether you’re of Irish ancestry or not, that you belong there as sure as the waves break over the cliffs and the gulls sing as they dive above the sea, that you, too, are part of Ireland and Ireland is part of you.
I found this on a Facebook page. It had been posted there by my friend Jerry B. It appears on www.upworthy.com and was titled:
Bullies Called Him Pork Chop. He Took That Pain With Him And Then Cooked It Into This.
Shane Koyczan was bullied a lot when he was a kid. So he took that pain and made this stunning video with the help of some amazingly talented people. It's kind of breathtaking and powerful, just a warning. Also, it has a happy ending.
Look, the expected 'I'm sorry someone is dead...' aside, I have spent some time wondering why I don't give a rat's rear-end about stories like the still-unfolding Oscar Pistorius case.
Maybe it's because I didn't pay more than passing attention to him when he was the inspirational and at the same time controversial Olympic figure? Just a guess, can't be sure.
For the record, as of this writing he's still going with the 'I thought it was an intruder' explanation as to why his girlfriend is dead.
I hope I never have an intruder in my house but I wonder if I did and as I stood there with a gun in my hand knowing that the intruder had bolted himself inside a bathroom, would my first reaction be to pump three gunshots through the bathroom door?
Regardless, if he killed her may he go to jail for as long as law allows in South Africa.
Meanwhile I marvel at the worldwide fascination.
I have given some thought to the idea that maybe this is a meaningful and interesting story and the fact that I'm not interested is my problem. So is it me?
And is it weird that the answer to that question is something else I'm not interested in?