On Wednesday, the Scranton Sewer Authority board again thumbed its collective nose at residents of Scranton and Dunmore and anyone who believes transparency is an essential element of good government.
For the second time in two months, the board ignored a mushrooming public outcry for an independent audit of the $195 million sale of the sewer system to Pennsylvania American Water. Mike Dempsey — vice president of Dunmore Borough Council and the borough’s lone representative on the board — motioned to ask state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to sift the details of the sale, which paid millions of dollars to lawyers without a full accounting of what they did to earn such a hefty payday.
Scranton City Council and Dunmore Borough Council have formally asked for an independent review, either by the auditor general or the state attorney general. The SSA board and Mayor Bill Courtright have stubbornly stood in the way.
In May, Dempsey’s call for an outside audit was voted down by board Chairman Michael Parker and members Kevin Whelan and Larry Boccadori. Wednesday’s rejection was worse: Dempsey’s motion died for a lack of a second. The majority lacked the courage and respect for accountability to even put the motion to a vote.
Read Staff Writer Jeff Horvath‘s account of the meeting here. This latest shameless bit of stonewalling comes at a particularly inopportune time for Courtright. He has said he sees no reason for an independent review of the sale, but took enough political heat to concede to a “town hall meeting” to answer the public’s many questions about a deal he championed and insists was “all done aboveboard.”
The meeting is tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lackawanna College’s auditorium on Vine Street. It should be packed with citizens who demand real answers and won’t accept a dog-and-pony show meant to stem the bleeding from the mayor’s self-inflicted political wounds. He should come prepared to face the music for a deal he helped orchestrate.
Maybe the deal was “all done aboveboard.” Or maybe it’s the scandalous, costly boondoggle the excessive secrecy around it suggests. Either way, it’s time for Courtright and his SSA appointees to come clean.