The Ozzie and Harriet of our time

Pamela Anderson, it seems, was specifically designed to expose the seething hormones in many of us.Meanwhile, Kid Rock was programmed to squeeze life until the juice runs.While neither Pam the actress nor Kid the crooner have been blessed with ample talent, their penchant for creating scads of tabloid publicity has been extraordinary.Now, as newlyweds, they can squeeze each other until their marriage inevitably becomes threadbare and unravels like cheap rayon.

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Resident lunacy

Call me a pea-headed moron, but I’m much too shallow in thought to fathom why the Reading Charter Board thinks it has the muscle to ace out the mayor.I thought when folks elected the mayor of Reading, it was his job to grab the scepter and hold on tight so City Council didn’t make too much of a power grab.But isn’t the Charter Board grasping at straws when it tries to grab the mayor’s scepter? Isn’t that body supposed to be made up of big thinkers who see the big picture but don’t actually rule? It’s OK for them to wield a hammer, but it should be a Styrofoam hammer.Maybe not.Because between bites of Wheat Chex this morning I read where the Charter Board has ordered Adam Mukerji, the city’s community development manager, to be suspended for 30 days and then fired if he doesn’t agree to move into the city as the charter requires of department heads. Mayor Tom McMahon said he will appeal the ruling to Berks County Court on the grounds the board overstepped its authority. Way to wield that scepter, Tom!This residency requirement issue has been more painful than passing a kidney stone. This turf war has been an emotionally fraught minefield for eons. And what’s the point? After all, getting good people to work in City Hall isn’t all that easy. No wonder its staff is skinnier than a foul pole. So why the hell complicate matters?Nevertheless, the Charter Board said Mukerji’s recent title change to manager from director doesn’t change the equation that he runs the department and is subject to the residency requirement. Mukerji resides in eastern Montgomery County and is paid $78,000 a year. He has refused to move to Reading since he was hired in 2002 by former Mayor Joe Eppihimer. Mukerji claims Eppihimer never told him about the requirement. “I’m still working, I’m not suspended, I’m not fired as far as I know, and I have not agreed to move into the city,” Mukerji told the Eagle’s Don Spatz. “I am 100 percent in support of Mr. Mukerji,” McMahon told Spatz. “This will be appealed, and I have no intention of firing Mr. Mukerji.”McMahon said the charter doesn’t specify remedies for violations. An ordinance passed last year by City Council does specify remedies, which can include suspensions and firings. McMahon said the charter trumps the ordinance. He said he believes the board can make recommendations, but he’s not sure it can enforce them.So we’ll see how this drama unfolds.Still, the drama could be muted if, as others have noted, they would just apply the Greater Reading global concept to the residency requirement.Then city department heads could live on Jupiter as long as the killer commute doesn’t get to them.Getting creative to erase the counterproductive asterisks is simply a matter of good governing.

Do I sense a faint whiff of contempt here?

The folks at Al Qaeda ought to lighten up. Those sinister jerks need to develop some hobbies so they don’t spend all their time proliferating hate in the Petri dish of religious terrorism.Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s No. 2 guy whose nickname I sincerely doubt is Chuckles, used the Islamic bully pulpit of Al-Jazeera television today to issue a worldwide call for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from “Spain to Iraq.”What a rather ugly denouement that would be.I try never to offend alleged holy men who would prefer to kill you than save your soul, but what in the name of Allah is this dude smoking? Either he’s ridiculously retarded by religion gone wrong or totally inept in controlling his visceral impulses.If rhetoric were everything, this saber rattler cowering in seclusion — who obviously sees life through the confining prism of prejudice — would have much of the world obliterated by the weekend.Talking tough without risking his own skin, he proclaimed that “all the world is a battlefield open in front of us. The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires … . It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails … from Spain to Iraq. We will attack everywhere.” Al-Zawahiri obviously is trying to rally all Muslims to become tirelessly wicked forces in incinerating the infidels. If he inspires the holy war to end all holy wars, his next job could be managing the Phillies. After all, they could use some motivation.

Reading Railroad a Monopoly no longer

Time and change keep scraping fenders. The clock ticks, some things split. Still, there are some things that you would think would be here forever, ones whose penetrating roots would be intractable.For instance, the Reading Railroad being a staple on the Monopoly game board.Well, think again. While the Reading Railroad, which stopped existing in real life years ago, lives on in the Monopoly Classic edition, it has chugged into the terminals of oblivion in the upcoming Monopoly Here and Now edition.You read that right. The good folks at Hasbro, Inc., have derailed our link to immortality.Then again, perhaps it was poetic justice. After all, the Reading Railroad is kaput. And so is Reading, which now answers to the name of Greater Reading. Still, memories of the Reading Railroad will smolder inside some of us like a fire deep in an old mine.

So much for California cool

Global warming remains a myth to some folks whose brains obviously melted sometime ago.But I wager few people in California these torrid days and sultry nights are disputing that our globe is getting hotter than a big vat of horseradish.The state is roasting alive from a scorching heat wave that is making electric meters spin faster than slot machine lemons. How hot is it? Well, it’s expected to hit 112 degrees in the Los Angeles area today.Which means flame-haired starlets are wearing hats, fearful their lovely locks suddenly will ignite.Oprah was spotted in a thong bikini at Hollywood and Vine. Only the fabric on that unfortunate bikini has been stretched tighter than the state’s power supply.Chauffeurs have ditched their tuxes in favor of flip-flops and tank tops.Ice cubes suddenly have the shelf life of discounted parachutes.Jay Leno’s chin has wilted at least two inches in the intense heat.Indeed, Hef’s Playboy Mansion no longer is the hottest place around. That would be the La Brea Tar Pits, which are oozing more goo than a 2-year-old with a bad cold.By now I betcha even the Governator is a big Al Gore fan.

A real copout in Shoey

Shoemakersville these days is in a real pickle. It has nary a policeman.Not a good thing, especially when they are sinister folks out there who have itchy trigger fingers who can’t resist the urge to scratch their criminal urges.Who knows what dastardly types out there could be ready to unleash a cannonade of unrelenting crime in Shoey?If you follow the news, Shoemakersville is without a police department because of legal fees involved in a dispute with its former police chief. The whole sorry mess has some folks hotter and louder than a Saturday Night Special.Sounds like Shoey needs a new hell-for-leather, pistol-packing sheriff in town.Since Rock Ridge is rather peaceful these days now that Mel Brooks has ventured into other comic adventures, perhaps Shoey could hire Bart as its new top cop. And if crime really runs amuck, Bart could always deputize Jim The Waco Kid to help out.Just a thought.

Signatures scrawled in the trash

Apparently the list of petitions seeking a referendum on a citywide trash collection plan can be tossed in the trash.An independent hauler will have to pick up that trash.And trash the list certainly is, according to City Clerk Linda Kelleher, who has thrown out nearly three quarters of the 2,692 signatures on petitions, claiming many of the signatures show signs of tampering to make them appear legal. So the committee hoping to maintain the status quo of independent hauling fell 1,121 signatures short of the 2,000 needed to force a referendum they hoped would shoot down the citywide trash-hauling plan slated to begin in January. Well, if the committee members were all that dedicated to the cause, you would think they wouldn’t have acted with enough stupidity and sloppiness to fill a good-sized trash bin. Their list of petitions evidently is just another stinking pile of garbage polluting our city. According to Kelleher, in most of the signatures that showed signs of tampering, someone other than the signer had squeezed in a middle initial, often in a different color ink, between the first and last name of the signer. Sometimes, the inserted initial was written above the names.All this was apparently done because the petition signers are supposed to sign it the same way they signed the voter registration rolls.But using different colored ink? Come on now! What kind of what-the-hell heave of desperation is that? It’s a performance so absurdly inept that it refuses to be absorbed.As I linger over an early afternoon coffee and chuckle over this joke, I can safely say the trash in town right now definitely stands much taller than the credibility of this pro-independent hauling committee.Then again, couldn’t most of us smell this coming?