Like Velveeta, Kraft Singles and the chemicals that constitute the orange powder packet in boxed macaroni, the Lackawanna County newsletter is good for its manufacturers and bad for consumers stuck paying for phony cheese.
As Times-Tribune Staff Writer Kyle Wind reported in The Sunday Times, Majority/Minority Commissioner Laureen Cummings and Minority/Majority Commissioner Jerry Notarianni professed righteous disdain for Living Lackawanna, but voted to keep the nakedly self-promoting, taxpayer-funded publication going. Majority/Majority Commissioner Pat “Cheese” O’Malley‘s unwavering support for the newsletter is testament to his success as an artificial substitute for an authentic leader.
Ms. Cummings, a tea party Republican who campaigned on a platform of cutting taxpayer costs, defended her vote to keep Living Lackawanna as a responsible response to her own ignorance.
“Prior to me becoming commissioner, I was under the impression it was paid for by our tax dollars, but now that I’m here, I’m looking at where this funding is coming from,” she said. “It’s hotel taxes. … That money is generated specifically for marketing of our county.”
So, tax dollars collected at local hotels are not really tax dollars? By that irrational standard, up is down, black is white and gravity is an elaborate hoax rivaling the conspiracy of climate change. And what about Mr. Notarianni’s about-face? Who cares? The deposed Democrat‘s vote to keep Living Lackawanna alive is just the latest empirical evidence that last November’s top local vote-getter may as well have earned as few votes as Ms. Cummings, who barely finished third in a race to the bottom.
Pennsylvania counties are required by law to use hotel tax revenue exclusively to promote tourism, but, like so many rules that apply to the Outside World, Lackawanna is among a handful of counties whose alleged leaders are exempt from statewide standards. Violating the spirit of the law carries no legal consequences, a sorry truth that has been ruthlessly exploited by every branch of government in Our Stiff Neck of the Woods.
Leave it to Mr. O’Malley, Lackawanna County’s most well-compensated tourist, to unintentionally present a defense of Living Lackawanna that betrays its worthlessness to the people who fund its publication.
“We’re talking about what’s going on in the county, and the commissioners are part of it,” he said. “I don’t look at it as anything more than letting people know what’s going on.”