Like most clueless tea-party culture warriors, Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings doesn’t like public funding for the arts. Or bicycle lanes, fair property assessments, land banks and other investments in the quality of life.
And she really doesn’t like being called out on the uninformed, irritating and indefensible opinions she expresses in public and on the Facebook page she spends way too much time updating with tributes to Donald Trump and indictments of anyone who doesn’t see the 45th president as a king anointed by God Himself.
Cummings is a professional victim, a snowflake seeking a skillet to melt on. When she is criticized, she says it’s because she’s a Republican. Because she’s a Christian. Because she’s a woman. Cummings is never wrong. Her critics are always wrong, and deliberately so. Cummings apparently sees herself as a righteous martyr beset by the enemies of America. Sound familiar?
Cummings’ latest Joan of Arc moment began after Scranton Fringe Festival Executive Director Conor O’Brien dared to post a Facebook thank-you to “everyone in our region (and beyond) who have spoken truth to power.”
“Those who have spoken out on this very serious matter of censorship, false information and (frankly) political power used to target a small organization for very obviously unfair reasons in these initial days is greatly appreciated.”
Cummings cast the lone vote against awarding $2,400 in county arts and culture funding to the Scranton Fringe Festival’s Early Stages program — an interactive performing arts education program for children who with any luck will grow up more worldly and welcoming than Cummings.
“They have rated R, rated PG-13 (shows) at the Scranton Cultural Center and we’re paying for that,” Cummings said. Again, the $2,400 grant will fund arts programming for children, not some hypothetical revival of “Caligula” starring semi-nude LGBTQ actors wearing American flag diapers.
MEMO TO FRINGE FESTIVAL ORGANIZERS: Next year, do a hypocritical revival of “Caligula” with buttoned-up, straight patriots waving Old Glory. Cummings just might break the bank to fund it.
Baring once again her paper-thin skin, Cummings wants to sue Conor O’Brien for his honest, accurate and appropriate Facebook post. She asked minority solicitor John Cerra to find a way to make O’Brien pay for exercising his First Amendment rights in such flagrantly American fashion.
“John, I would like to look into what I can do about that legally,” Cummings said. “First of all, that whole thing (the post) is inaccurate, and second of all … how can we trust what they’re doing … when they’re spreading stuff on the internet that’s actually lies about a commissioner?”
After the meeting, Cummings told Times-Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Horvath that O’Brien has “got to take responsibility as head of that organization to post the correct statements.”
If she somehow ends up filing a lawsuit, Cummings said she will not fund it with taxpayer money. Taxpayers like me who understand that asking Cerra to “look into” a possible lawsuit actually uses taxpayer money had no recourse but to chuckle and pay up.
Cummings can whine all she wants, but Conor O’Brien got it right: Her ultimate goal is censorship. The pushback to her uninformed, irritating and indefensible vote and comments shows that Lackawanna County has a vibrant, determined arts community, and it will speak truth to power, especially dim bulbs like Laureen Cummings.