Entry 2 – May 10, 2015
Great idea for a new ordinance in the city of Wilkes-Barre – very similar to the One Strike ordinance, as a response to the growing drug-related crime rate. How about every time there’s a shooting in the city limits, the Mayor’s office gets shut down for six months. After all, he should know what’s going on in his city. He is responsible for the actions of people within the city limits, even if they are not residents! The Mayor has implied and/or actual knowledge of gun crimes in the city, because at least 10 shootings have taken place in just the last few months!
Of course he can appeal the shut down, if he files the proper paperwork within 20 days and pays the $100 filing fee. A hearing will then be scheduled in oh, about 5 weeks, during which time the Mayor will not be allowed to conduct city business, and will not receive any pay during this time. The hearing will be in front of a board made up of city landlords whose units were shut down for six months under the One Strike ordinance. The board will hear the Mayor’s arguments, and then render their decision in writing by mail at some point after the hearing.
For those not familiar with Wilkes-Barre’s One Strike Ordinance, it allows the city code office to shut down a rental property for six months if a tenant, tenant’s guest, or anyone at all is arrested on the property. The landlord is assumed to have implied knowledge of illegal activity. And the appeal process is identical to the one I described above, only landlords appeal to the City Code office, the same body that shut them down.
For anyone who didn’t read my first blog entry – please go back and read it when you have time. It’s highly entertaining! And it will explain a lot. In lieu of that, here is a brief account of who I am to make it easier to follow along. I am a Mom of a pre-schooler, currently working full-time while starting a business with my husband. That business is rental real estate, and we’ve been doing it since 2008 in the Wilkes-Barre area. The Wilkes-Barre One Strike Law was in effect two years before our number came up, and it shut down an apartment in a building we are managing for a fellow investor.
They shut down the wrong apartment. Because now all Hell is about to break loose.
Maybe it was because I was bullied. I find it really hard to back down when I’m pushed, no matter how insanely the odds are stacked against me.
My parents were vagabond hippies. The moving around began in the mid-1970s. We had been living a fairly normal life in a leafy suburban neighborhood in Nashua, NH, not far from Boston. My first day of school all the kids from a 3-block radius turned out to walk with me, down Dover Street, to the left and up a slight incline to Birch Hill School. The stay-at-home Moms held up the rear, pushing the baby brothers and sisters in the carriages. Quite bucolic. I’ll be in therapy for years asking why – WHY did we ever leave that paradise?
My Dad lost his job (as one of the first computer programmers) and I guess kind of flipped out. We had to move in with my grandparents for awhile, and that did not work out well. A lot of my parents’ generation were moving up to Vermont to commune with nature, get Back To The Earth. Many of their friends made the move. And up we went in the summer of 1978 (cue Fleetwood Mac!)
My Boston accent, second-hand hippie clothes and INFP personality made me an easy target for bullying. (Not sure what an INFP personality is? Find out and take your own personality test here: http://www.16personalities.com/index.php/infp-personality)
In 1978, the local families of northern Vermont were being inundated by long-haired hippie freaks moving up from Massachusetts in droves, in their magic VW busses. So there was a bit of understandable resentment. I hung back with other children of hippies, friends with names like Rahula and Jethro. But as bad luck would have it, they were a grade behind me. So when I entered 5th grade and moved to the middle school, I lost my support system. I don’t want to get into the details of the bullying, mostly because I don’t want to relive it. Let’s just say this one redneck girl who had been held back for two years and was twice my size really had it in for me. And since everyone was afraid of her, I had no one to run to. Even the teachers looked the other way. At one point I locked myself in a bathroom to avoid a physical assault.
Probably the only thing that saved me from being a suicide or a Columbine was that we moved again. And in my new school, everyone was just so laid back and accepting. I was actually popular!
Then we moved again. This school wasn’t as bad as Glover, but it was pretty bad. I was older now, and simply escaped into a fantasy world of music. I would end up with a 30 year career in the radio and music industry because of this experience.
When we moved again, I was in 9th grade. The year was 1984 and I was completely absorbed by the MTV culture. I dressed and carried myself like a cross between Madonna and a British new wave video vamp. I walked the hallways with my headphones on and minded my own business. Then someone started calling me a “slut.” At first I tried to ignore it, just turn the Walkman up louder. But then they pushed me. Literally and figuratively. Every day in the hallway, some redneck acid-washed denim bee-atch reeking of stale cigarette smoke would swerve to bump into me. Or stick her foot out. Or just outright shove me. One morning, I’d had enough. After 3 shoves on the way to class one girl (whose name I can’t even remember – Theresa maybe?) stepped into my path, put her fat face in mine and mouthed the words , “you fucking whore.” Then she walked away.
I snapped the stop button on my Walkman. Pulled the headphones down around my neck. Turned around and yelled, “You want to repeat that?” She turned around, walked back over to me, got up in my face, locked eyes, and said, through gritted theeth, “you fucking whore.”
BAM! My left arm shot out, my fist finding it’s mark in the soft spot of her substantial belly. She doubled over, went down. The crowd that had gathered around us stepped back, gasping. I was as surprised as any of them! But that was, for all intents and purposes, the end of my being bullied.
Sometimes the only way to stand up to a bully is with a good left hook to the stomach.
I struggled with whether or not I should publish these experiences in a blog for the world to see. Please understand, this is not a pity party for Kelly - I have an amazing life! And after that day in the hallway my life at high school became much more pleasant. I have a lot of good memories. I was never popular, but I ran with my own merry band of misfits, and we had a good time. Some of them I still count among my dearest friends today.
My experience with bullying did not ruin my life, but it did shape it.
I can point to three major themes in my life that draw directly from that experience:
- My daughter will have a stable home life, and roots
- She will never know poverty (nor will I, ever again) – therefore my business WILL succeed
- I will never, EVER, let anyone. Push. Me. Around.
It is very likely my company will be suing the city of Wilkes-Barre over One Strike. That decision will be made within a week, and you’ll be reading about it in next Sunday’s Ginger Snapped blog. At least as much of it as I can comment on, under the advice of our lawyer. This successful attorney has made a nice little hobby for himself suing municipalities who violate the Constitutional rights of ordinary citizens and business owners like myself. He says to prepare for a long fight – it will likely go beyond the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas up to Commonwealth Court. But once it gets to Harrisburg, One Strike is toast. The corrupt, inbred, nepotistic Northeast PA politics won’t fly amongst the Legal Eagles in the capital.
It’s going to feel good to take down another redneck with a left hook!
When we file the complaint in county court, it is common practice for the Sheriff’s office to serve the defendants. But depending on the rules, there is a chance I may be able to serve City Hall…myself! Oh PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET THAT BE TRUE! I shall let you know. I also have to look up the rules about having someone follow me with a high-def video camera for the purpose of posting on YouTube.
In the meantime, I have this for your viewing pleasure. When I filed the paperwork for our One Strike appeal, we got a notice in the mail informing us of the date of our hearing, April 16th. On the notice was an order to call the city code office to confirm our appearance at the hearing, so that it could be made public. I confirmed in person, asking “what does this mean?” The secretary told me in a rather nasty tone that the meeting would be made public and anyone can come. I took that to mean I should be expecting a crowd of angry Wilkes-Barre homeowners with pitchforks and torches waiting for a shot at the Slumlord. So I invited some of my friends for support. Former colleagues. From the last 15 years of working in local media.
Channel 28 did a terrific piece that ran on the Fox News at 10 and their own Eyewitness News at 11 that night. Check it out here and please, if you agree with me add something to the comments page to counteract the attacks of the two internet trolls talking smack about me. I would really appreciate it.