Independent Gazette freelance photographer Mark Robbins was ticketed for trespassing by Wilkes-Barre Police Officer Brian Gist on the evening of Sunday, March 31st at 11:03 pm. Robbins had driven behind the Police Department headquarters while following up on a lead that city Police Officer John F. Majikes had been driving a Dodge Ram owned by city towing contractor LAG Towing.
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It’s been over a year and a half now since the community activists’ and concerned citizens’ investigation of LAG Towing began, and it was not the towing charge that has now made the “Cash for Cars” and “LAG Towing” household terms in Luzerne County, but the verbally abusive response which one Mark Robbins received at the time from local Wilkes-Barre police officers upon retrieving his vehicle.
Ryan Verdekal, 30, informed the Independent Gazette on Sunday, March 8, exclusively, that he will be ending his campaign for the office of mayor of the City of Wilkes-Barre, citing the entry of too many candidates seeking the Democratic Party nod. Verdekal announced his candidacy in January and said he has collected the requisite 100 Democratic signatures, but will not be handing in his petitions, claiming that he didn’t want to split what he termed the “honest vote.”
While muckraking articles began appearing in the late 1800s, the January 1903 issue of McClure’s Magazine is generally credited with the launch of muckraking journalism. The term “muckraker” actually appeared later, initially in comments by President Teddy Roosevelt in a 1906 speech about journalism, when Roosevelt referred to a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as “the Man with the Muck-Rake.” Originally used as a pejorative, the public came to embrace the term, as well as the work provided by these intrepid writers.
On November 20, 2013, Independent Gazette contributor and Wilkes-Barre City administration critic Mark Robbins appeared before District Magistrate Donald Whittaker of Nanticoke for a preliminary hearing. City police had charged Robbins with summary harassment and misdemeanor stalking after he reportedly spoke with Cathie Bella, of Sherman Hills, by phone for a cumulative duration of 2.6 minutes, transmitted one Facebook message, and mailed Bella a copy of the charges he was filing against her.
On appeal, Mark Robbins’ trespass by motor vehicle charge was dismissed on August 7 by Judge Michael T Vough when Wilkes-Barre Police Officer Brian Gist failed to arrive for the scheduled hearing.
Many who had been consistently stonewalled when seeking truth by means of Right-to-Know Requests filed with the city administration have now banded together in an attempt to pool resources in order to do the impossible: Fight City Hall.