We’re getting the band back together!
Last night, Times-Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Horvath broke the news that the Zombie Remains of the Scranton Sewer Authority finally did the right thing Thursday and invited state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to audit the $195 million sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority. Read Jeff’s report here.
Since its December 2016 closing, this newspaper has relentlessly pushed for an outside audit of the sale, particularly the $3.1 million in largely undocumented legal fees paid to an army of lawyers who left oodles of loose ends.Just the fact that a $200,000 handshake deal former mayor and current felon Bill Courtright gave to Attorney Ned Abrahamsen, his top campaign contributor should long ago have spurred an audit/investigation.
Because state law bars DePasquale’s office from initiating audits of authorities, the SSA board had to invite him. Twice, the board voted against transparency and accountability. Thursday night, it got religion. Now, DePasquale is free to conduct a comprehensive review like his 2017 takedown of the Scranton School District, which led to a statewide grand jury investigation and made him a local hero in Scranton.
That the authority still exists (it was supposed to be dissolved at closing) is evidence of the sale’s suspect plumbing. While it’s still around, I’ll keep asking for documents. As I’ve previously reported, there was a lot of billing for easement work, yet the authority is still alive precisely because the legal army failed to secure as many as 700 easements essential to the sale. That failure led to a class-action lawsuit that may drag on until the sun burns out.
I filed a Right to Know request for a host of documents related to the easements. The deadline for the authority to turn them over was Monday, but I agreed to an extension that expires this morning. I’ll keep you posted on what I find. In the meantime, let us rejoice that this suspect sale will get the overdue official scrutiny of an experienced, outside eye.
I love the smell of newsprint in the morning.
Smells like victory.