I don’t usually blog on Saturdays, but Lackawanna County Commissioner Pat “Cheese” O’Malley‘s latest slap at Evie Rafalko McNulty (and the Facebook furor it has generated) has me typing with my knuckles. Evie, as most of you know, is the county recorder of deeds and was to be chief of staff for the Democratic majority voters elected in November.
Cheese, a Democrat when it suits him, dumped running mate and top vote-getter Jerry Notarianni to team up with tea party Republican Laureen Cummings, defying the will of voters. Then he denied Evie the job while ensuring her dismissal would be as embarrassing as possible. Now Cheese wants to charge Evie for the experience.
As Times-Tribune Staff Writer Kyle Wind reports today, commissioners sent Evie a bill for a conference she attended with them as their intended chief of staff, 1,000 business cards and a sign on the door of what would have been her office. The total cost these fiscal watchdogs hope to recoup is $479. That is apparently what Cheese’s political future is worth to him.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if throngs of Evie supporters showed up at the next commissioners meeting offering to pitch in for the bill? (Not that I’m advocating that, mind you.)
It would surprise no one if it happened, though. Billing Evie was petty, mean-spirited and beneath the alleged dignity of the commissioners office. It was also political suicide for Cheese. He has embarrassed and insulted a longtime, widely respected public servant and perhaps the most powerful woman in local politics. Her husband, former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty, is battling cancer. What does Cheese do for an encore, punch a nun?
Evie is no saint, and has never claimed to be. Picking a fight with her is a fool’s errand. On Facebook today, she claimed Cheese took his wife and children to the conference for which she is now being billed. It’s fair to ask who paid for their trip, which I will do first thing Monday.
In the meantime, my Sunday column (filed before this latest act of boorish buffoonery) takes a deeper look at the dysfunction of our new commissioners. Please don’t miss it.