ED NOTE: Written in 2005, shortly after a speech by the Mayor of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
I believe..I can fly.
That’s from Peter Pan, right? If you think happy thoughts wishes will come true, right?
You know it would be easy to poke fun at Mayor Tom Leighton’s speech in Wilkes-Barre last night. The guy stood up after a week worth of Hype about some unbelievable announcement and basically sprinkled fairy dust all over the Genetti ballroom.
But for a change I won’t make him the object of sarcasm.
I am the last person to trust a politician. I grew up in the days of the Nixon Whitehouse. The only president I know of who had to be installed into his grave with an auger. Because of that I will probably never completely have any faith in those who run governments. But I do know this. If we don’t believe in something, a terrible thing happens.
When I came to this area 25 years ago Downtown Wilkes-Barre was a beautiful place. The Scranton downtown scared the crap out of me. Now it’s just the opposite. I worked in downtown Scranton while they fixed it. I remember when they blew up a couple of blocks worth of blighted buildings to make the mall at Steamtown.
That’s the kind of vision it’s gonna take to fix Wilkes-Barre.
But the biggest thing we have to blow up is in our heads.
The Mayor spoke about Negative attitudes. Not being from here but having lived here all these years I can say from both an insider’s and an outsider’s perspective that he is dead on right. I have never seen a place with an inferiority complex as bad as it is here. Nothing is any good. Everything sucks. It’s all run by crooks.
Well, maybe so. But it’s not going to change unless that attitude does.
I say give the deal a good run.
The Mayors speech last night included this recipe to avoid failure:
One: do what is right, not what is easy. We have and will continue to make difficult decisions.
Two: do the best that you can. We have a tremendous work ethic. Do not accept mediocrity; instead, insist on a commitment to excellence.
Three: Treat others as you want to be treated, with respect and integrity.
The Mayor went on to say:
Now, I ask all of you, whether you are a Council member, a CEO, a laborer or a student, to go out and tell your colleagues, families and friends that YOU BELIEVE.
And more importantly, make THEM BELIEVE.
In some ways it’s the most important thing that has happened in Wilkes-Barre in the twenty-five years I have been here.
This act of faith promoted by Tom Leighton can lead the city by the Susquehanna to becoming the city that everyone wants.
Or you can believe that it’s all a load of fairy dust. It’s all up to you.
Here is the entire speech: