After yesterday’s live on-the-air interview (that you can hear in the audio vault at WILKNewsradio.com), maniac cop Mark Kessler’s supporters will be gunning for me – hopefully not literally, although that would not surprise me.
Maniacs are maniacs for a reason.
That’s why Kessler, the Gilberton police chief in Schuylkill County and a school director at the North Schuylkill School District, must be immediately disarmed and defused.
I reached Kessler while he vacationed by floating in an inner tube in a Texas river after watching the now viral videos he posted of himself on Youtube. I urge you to watch them as well, as long as you are 18 years of age or older.
The videos are not fit for minor consumption.
The videos are not fit, period.
Then decide if this unstable man is fit for any official public service duty short of an El Salvadoran death squad.
Forget about a short a fuse.
Kessler’s got no fuse.
America’s scariest police chief, as he’s been labeled in a national magazine needs help. Mental health counseling is not something I joke about nor should you. Psychological evaluations are required for all police officers. Failure to meet the standard must disqualify any aspiring or current officer.
Kessler is now a publicly raving maniac whose moral turpitude and conduct becoming an officer must officially disqualify him as a public servant. With his foul mouth and fully automatic machine gun, Kessler is locked and loaded and ready to explode – a ticking time bomb, a public menace, a barbarian with the keys to the gate.
And that’s the best I can say about him.
I asked Kessler yesterday if he was willing to counseling for his bizarre and threatening behavior.
Kessler asked me if I would seek counseling.
I’ve had more intelligent interactions with monkeys at the zoo.
I’m not the police chief. I’m not pulling the trigger on a machine gun. I’m not a school board member who is responsible for vulnerable children already under siege by bullies. I’m not someone who mocks mentally challenged people who deal with mental retardation.
I asked Kessler about his use of the word “libtard,” an obvious take-off on the disparaging use of the word “retard ” that right-wing fanatics nowadays apply to liberals.
Tough guy Kessler shied away from the question.
Then he got cute, inventing a new word that he tagged “libturd.” He seemed thrilled with himself and laughed. As he spoke, I easily imagined a nice doctor taking notes during Kessler’s psychological exam as Kessler clapped his hands and repeated the word over and over – libturd, libturd.
No, this is definitely not funny.
Kessler truly seems to fancy himself as some kid of hero, a white supremacist conservative patriot who is armed and dangerous and willing to stand his ground against the American government if and when he determines them to be tyrannical.
When evaluating Kessler, delusion is a word that comes easily to mind.
Kessler refused during yesterday’s interview to confirm who owns the machine gun(s) he fires in the videos. Do the guns belong to him, the Gilberton Police Department or to someone else? Are these fully automatic machine guns registered with the federal government as they must be?
Kessler refused to say.
Federal law enforcement agents really need to ask him. But they better be careful when they approach this wild man wearing a badge and carrying a machine gun.
I’m truly worried that somebody will get hurt. I’m worried about Kessler. I’m worried about Gilberton. I’m particularly worried about the children in the school district Kessler represents. I’m worried about good cops and good citizens who all suffer when madness explodes in a police chief’s mind, a dangerous man who believes that the world is against him. I’m worried that he will one day believe that it is time for him to go out in a blaze of glory.
Yeah, I’m worried, all right.
You should worry, too - even if you’re from Texas.
So you’re walking down the street with a bag of money and a guy comes running up behind you, grabs the bag and sprints down the street with the speed of an Olympic champion.
“Stop, thief,” you yell as you begin the chase.
The thug keeps running so you pull your loaded firearm.
“Stop or I’ll shoot,” you scream.
The thief picks up his pace. So you aim and pull the trigger. So long bad guy.
I don’t think so.
This scenario was hammered into my head more than 30 years ago when I attended the International Academy of Law Enforcement in Pittsburgh for lethal weapons training. I was working as a security guard at the Harrisburg Hospital and needed the “higher education” even though we didn’t carry guns.
The teacher was preparing us for our psychological exam, asking the exact same question about walking down the street with a bag of money over and over again. After being drilled in the proper answer countless times, the academy experts were certain that we would all pass the head test. But that's another story.
The biggest lesson I learned at the "academy" was that you simply cannot shoot somebody just because they are fleeing after committing a non-violent crime. At least that’s my understanding of the law. You probably should not even pull a loaded gun on a criminal unless you are defending the life of another or yourself.
Pulling a gun and pointing it at an accused criminal puts you in a very dangerous situation. Anything can happen. The criminal can pull his or her own gun and shoot you. A cross fire might drop an innocent passerby, maybe even a child. Police might arrive and mistake you for the criminal and shoot you. Cops might be killed in the cross fire.
Is this really what you want in a vigilant society? You really want vigilante justice? Vigilance and vigilantism are two different responses to crime. You really want to live in a Wild West world?
Yeah, I know, we already do.
But, whether you like or or not, police are responsible for societal protection. You are doing your neighborhood a favor by not interfering in official police duties even if you believe you are helping the cops.
A good citizen recently did just that in Wilkes-Barre, according to newspaper accounts. He chased down a suspect who was running from police after crashing his car and fleeing the scene.. He refused to follow police orders to give up. Instead he took off.
Enter the Good Samaritan. Out came the concealed weapons permit approved gun and that was the end of that. And we all lived happily ever after. Or did we?
What if the good citizen had opened fire? What if he had killed the suspect? Please note that I said suspect. Remember the presumption of innocence and due process and all that patriotic law and order business. What if the suspect panicked and pulled a gun of his own? What if another good citizen saw the first good citizen but didn’t know he was a good citizen and blasted him with a shot between the eyes?
Wild in the streets?
Looks like it.
We’re falling apart at the seams. Wilkes-Barre is out of control. Mayor Tom Leighton and Police Chief Gerry Dessoye do not know how to head off life and death problems that take far more than guns and ammunition to solve.
Are we screwed?
As long as we scream our approval of a pistol-packing populace as an end-all to our community development failures, we are, indeed, screwed.
Shoot first ask questions later? Rather be tried by twelve than carried by six? Shoot ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out? Guns don’t kill people, people kill people?
Yippietieiaaaa, get along little cowboys.
Bernie Goetz lives! Long live George Zimmerman!
We better get a grip – and I don’t mean on our Smith and Wessons. If not, we can expect our streets to turn red with even bloodier rivers of disrespect, mayhem, violence and death.
“Matt Cartwright’s office,” the man who answered the phone said this morning when I called the number published on the front page of the Scranton Times Tribune as part of the paid ad hawking tickets for “Rep. Matt Cartwright’s 2nd Annual Family Picnic!”
The first-term rookie Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives is holding his fundraiser Saturday at Mercatili-Segilia Park in Moosic.
“Matt Cartwright’s office?”
I suffered a terrible flashback.
The last time I called for tickets to a political fundraising event in Moosic, a slick political animal who answered the phone at then state Sen. Bob Mellow’s Harrisburg office put me in touch with Senate employees in Mellow’s district office.
Selling tickets out of an elected official’s office is illegal and one reason why the veteran Democratic Party warlord is sitting in federal prison on public corruption charges.
“Matt Cartwright’s office?” I said I disbelief. “You mean his congressional office?”
“His campaign office,” the man said.
Thanks for the clarification, kid. To be on the safe side, why not answer the phone, “Cartwright for Congress?” In this politically corrupt community, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
“There really is a difference,” I told the Cartwright worker, who really should have known better.
To make sure I heard him right, after I hung up I called back.
“Matt Cartwright’s office,” the man said.
Cartwright really should know better.
Still, even this simple confusion could spell trouble for the rich lawyer who cannot afford the simplest mistake that could tarnish the public trust he is duty-bound to serve and help restore.
Take a look at Cartwright’s photograph in the newspaper ad. Puss on the front page smiling, pampered, liberal and well-fed posing and paid for by “Cartwright for Congress.”
Thought you are in Congress, champ. But you mean next time. Cartwright for Congress next time. So you got to raise the money, put out the hand, put the touch on the people so you can hang onto your big public service job. You’re even offering picnic donors the chance to sponsor an ice cream truck for $250. That’s right, you can sponsor the ice cream truck at Cartwright’s picnic. The bounce house, too. And for more money you can sponsor Cartwright himself, bought and paid for, courtesy of the American Way.
Kids get into the picnic free, by the way, although when I asked if free tickets are available for poor families that cannot afford the twenty bucks, Cartwright’s campaign worker said he’d have to check..
C’mon, Corbett, cash is the name of the game. Exactly That’s the problem. And Cartwright is as bad as the rest, singing in the band no matter what his politics, playing the game rather than fighting loud and proud for campaign finance reform, making a brawl out of changing the system the way he promised when he was running.
I supported Cartwright back then when other Democrats, the biggest most important local names in our party, turned their backs on him or stuck knives in his. When Cartwright opposed longtime incumbent Tim Holden, an old-style conservative Democrat with more than two decades in the House, I stood with Cartwright. Powerful Democrats (who will no doubt be at his picnic/clambake) worked to defeat him against the status quo politician. Cartwright appeared on the air with me regularly because he was thrilled to get the time. And Cartwright won the primary and general elections.
I, too, was thrilled – sort of. I had a bad feeling that he would not be the progressive prince of democracy he portrayed himself to be. I worried he might turn and run when the first firefight erupted. And run he did. I asked for his help in changing the name of a park named after gangster Mellow. Cartwright refused. He whined. He justified and made excuses for his silence. He lost a lot of respect that day because he surrendered before the real battles began - fights to make the system better, more inclusive and more representative of the power of the people.
Cartwright now is the system, one of them, one of the elected public officials who turn people away from participatory democracy rather than welcoming us into the fray.
So, taking a lesson from Mellow, the menacing political cartel enforcer, Cartwright is having a summer picnic, a clambake, a fundraiser, a way to cash in on his newfound popularity among those who once wanted his head.
Mellow’s clambake was legendary. The money flowed like cold beer from a frosted tap. Re-election was assured time and time again. So was corruption. Cartwright should have distanced himself from anything even remotely resembling a clambake. Instead, Cartwright’s bash announces his surrender to the dark forces of inner circle partisan politics.
Soft, plush and comfortable as it is, Matt Cartwright’s office already needs disinfecting.
But that’s exactly what most public officials want from voters and taxpayers– for otherwise good citizens to remain lazy, gullible and absent-minded.
The file in the Jim Gibbons death settlement is still missing, by the way. Somebody in the Lackawanna County Clerk of Judicial Records office either lost it or somebody stole it. Detectives from the district attorney’s office are supposedly still investigating.
If things go according to plan, prospective judge and current magistrate Gibbons will be the newest member of the power elite to take the bench. And he likely won’t have to answer our questions about the man he killed almost 40 years ago when he slammed into the young husband and father of three who was crossing Cedar Avenue. Gibbons told the police officer who arrived on the scene that he had just dropped off federal Judge Richard Conaboy at his home. Without witnesses, the officer took Gibbons at his word about the accident and didn’t even give him a breath test.
Conaboy, by the way, failed to return my recent phone call asking to speak with him about the night of the accident. I figure that a man as powerful as Conaboy, whose name appears in the police accident report, would do everything in his power to answer legitimate questions that could cause doubt about his and Gibbons’ character and suitability for the bench.
Where were they before the accident? Had Gibbons been drinking? Did police interview Conaboy after the accident to confirm that Gibbons had, in fact, dropped him off at home? What was Gibbons mental and physical state at the time?
Conaboy has failed to return my calls in the past. I once called to ask how a federal judge, bound by a strict code of conduct that prevents “invidious” discrimination, would be part of an ethnic organization that bars women from its membership rolls and annual dinner. As past president of the Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and still active in its operation, Conaboy has great power to change the segregationist oppression of women – including political candidates who are banned from the dinner that draws U.S. senators and governors while their male opponents are given free rein to campaign at the dinner.
Gibbons refuses to speak with me about the matter as well,
But few people seem willing to take any action to demand accountability from Conaboy or Gibbons, Conaboy’s law clerk at the time of the accident whose father was a colleague of Conaboy’s on the federal bench.
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane also refuses to speak with me about a matter of grave importance Pennsylvania’s first elected Democrat and female attorney general has not yet spoken publicly about a secret meeting I reported last week that she attended in 2009 with admitted criminal and former powerful state senator Bob Mellow, who is serving a 16-month sentence in federal prison on public corruption charges.
Kane is now prosecuting Mellow on state public corruption charges that, if proven, could put him in jail for life.
Kane met with Mellow in his office to put his mind at ease that she would not challenge him for his Senate job, even though she had told many people that she would. I attended a small meeting and a subsequent party where she vowed to upset the king of public corruption. Then Kane mysteriously and suddenly withdrew, refusing to explain to most supporters her real reason for quitting.
Her husband’s family members, who run a trucking company with a multi-million dollar state contract hauling liquor, had pressured her to pull out, she said privately. They worried that Mellow would take revenge and that they might lose the contract. Family members dropped a heavy guilt trip on Kane, telling her that Northeastern Pennsylvania jobs were at stake, as well as the family business, a source said. A Teamster affiliated Philadelphia-area trucking company wanted the contract and Kane family members worried that Mellow might apply political muscle to give the business to them, the source said.
So Kane bowed before the altar of power and gave up her dream.
Kane has failed to respond to my request for an interview. I called the private cell phone number she once gave me, a number where I reached her previously, but a message explained that “if you are calling for Kathleen” you have the wrong number. A telephone message and personal email left for rookie communications director Joe Peters also went unanswered.
So I forwarded the column I wrote about the matter to several members of the Capitol press corps. Maybe they can get answers – assuming they’re interested, of course.
And, last but not least, I forwarded to the Inspector General at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, two columns I wrote about some missing money at WVIA, the local public broadcast affiliate Station fixture Bill Kelly told me last year that board members and station executives, including him, decided not to call police or even alert CPB officials when they discovered the approximately $12,000 in missing cash. Instead they called the retiree./suspect and asked him to give it back. He was thrilled that police were not called and WVIA executives – including board members who all signed off on the secret deal – were pleased that no bad publicity came their way from supporters concerned that WVIA could not keep track of their own money let alone donors’ cash.
Everybody signed a confidentiality agreement and they all lived happily ever after.
Kelly also now refuses to return my calls.
Yes, it’s easy to forget, even though I broke all three of these news stories just last month.
So, once again, I encourage you to remember.
As always, the restoration of the public trust depends on our willingness to confront the past in order to save the future.