Gerrymandering — wherein the political party in power draws district lines that will preserve said power — is a game as old as politics itself. “Both sides do it” is a common excuse for this activity, and there’s merit to that. However, the situation has gotten completely out of hand in Pennsylvania. Despite the Democratic party’s clear lead in registered voters and routinely out-votes the GOP statewide in congressional elections, the GOP still holds 13 out of 18 congressional seats. This is the result our GOP-run state legislature drawing the congressional districts in a manner that guarantees such an outcome. Democrats are concentrated in a few districts, while the GOP manages to win districts that are remarkable if only for their bizarre and even comical appearance.
Facing ever-more-crushing budget deficits, Scranton School District officials hope financial experts will help them right their ship. It’s easy to guess what the first bit of advice will be.
The 17,000-square-foot aquarium planned for the Marketplace at Steamtown will doubtless provide an educational experience, as well as many metaphorical opportunities for local cartoonists and columnists.
Senator Bob Casey has come out swinging against Donald Trump and his administration’s policies. Both on the stump and via Twitter, the usually mild-mannered Scranton native is making clear his disdain for both Trump and the billionaire class he seems intent on serving.
The NFL’s game of musical chairs reached breakneck pace this week when the league’s owners overwhelmingly approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. The team joins the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams as the latest to announce its intention to leave their fans — and the taxpayers who built their stadiums — behind.
Disgraced former state Treasurer Rob McCord cast a harsh and unforgiving light on the state of pay-to-play politics here in the Keystone State during recent court testimony (find out more about it here). His dogs-and-fleas metaphor comes off as an attempt to paint himself as an innocent caught up in the unsavory and corrupt processes of Harrisburg when evidence strongly suggests that he’s just another “flea” on the Keystone State “dog.”
Communities and counties throughout NE Pennsylvania are facing huge snow-removal costs and awaiting word whether the region will qualify for federal aid.
And then there was one. Jim Mulligan stands alone in the race for the GOP nomination to serve as Scranton’s mayor after his two challengers — Bob Bolus and Giovanni Piccolino — were forced to withdraw due to flawed candidate petitions. (The drawing plays off a local post-snowstorm tradition wherein residents reserve on-street parking spots using a chair or other item.)
And so, Sunshine Week — that seven-day stretch set aside each year to remind government officials that they are obliged to let the public know how its business is being conducted — has come and gone. In its wake, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is busily putting its seal of approval on a particularly ill-advised piece of legislation (HB 27) that would shield the identity of any cop involved in a shooting or use of force that results in injury of loss of life. Further, the bill would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for anyone other than a county district attorney to reveal the officer’s name. Police are one of the most powerful agents of government that come into regular contact with the public, so it is therefore vital that that they and the governmental bodies for which they work be held accountable.
$4.2 million legal and broker fees out of the roughly $195 million sewer authority sale price might not seem like a particularly large percentage, but for a cash-starved municipality like Scranton, every dime counts. Certainly, the legal and financial experts who shepherd through such transactions need to be fairly remunerated, but city residents and taxpayers deserve a more thorough accounting of what they’re paying for.