Scrantaxton: The City Bewitched by the Illusion of Good Government

Scrantaxton, formerly known as Scranton, was once a free, capitalist dream that has now become a bureaucratic cesspool, a tax-and-spend nightmare created for taxpayers who have been dragged over hot coals for more than two decades’ worth of political pillaging of the city and its residents. It’s been a city crying for leadership for 23 years, but simply gets sniveling children who blame other administrations, while repeating the same mistakes.

After the Doherty/Evans gridlocked administration, it seems that those who might shake things up on the dance floor are content to become a wallflower. Whether out of fear of retaliation from other politicians or loss of their council seats, seemingly well-intentioned council members sit on their hands. They’re not supportive of the destructive policies that are constantly pushed, but nevertheless vote for them. When questioned during a council meeting, or directly after, some council members seem to favor better courses of action.

Yet no one is willing to speak up, or vote “no.” In a city as depressed as Scranton, the people don’t need more Prozac, but elected leaders willing to push back and lead.

There are about seven faithful residents who come to raise their blood pressure at the city council meeting every Thursday evening, but week after week their complaints go unanswered. Scranton Council either shrugs its collective shoulders, tells them they have no answers and can’t get them one, criticizes them, or ignores them and passes their own agenda anyway.

The problems
Tax and spend, spend and tax, but at what point are they going to cut expenses? At what point do you insist that the council and mayor — during a public meeting — proceed line by line through the city budget?

Lackawanna County Courthouse bell tower

Lackawanna County Courthouse bell tower

Unfortunately, Scranton residents keep voting for big, popular names who are capital M-E, agenda-driven bums. Each time, different names, same results. The same leaders or “good ol’ boys” with the same messages are elected over and over. They sucked every last self-interested dollar, all the while not seeing the word bankruptcy written in the walls. And they were either woefully or willfully ignorant of this fact.

Despite history showing that tax cuts bring in more revenue, the “progressive” city keeps regressive past policies and procedures.

Each administration comes and goes with grandiose promises. Massive infrastructure spending, punishing tax increases, and kicking the proverbial can down the road have been Scranton’s modi operandi. What we witness are the same individuals (and families) reelected again by name recognition while soaked in nepotism, propped up by expensive campaigns, and propelled by the average Scrantaxton voter’s short term memory loss.

Some solutions
Scrantaxton should open up the books and scrutinize them line by line. Submit every budget item to the microscope. No new spending legislation until this is done. Start with the essentials, and see what money is left over. This would be a massive step forward to solving the fiscal failures and help cauterize the gaping wasteful spending wounds.

Some might protest, “What about our pensions and public sector paychecks?” Investigate who was involved in overextending the budget, misallocating funds, or pushing pet projects, and file a lawsuit against those elected leaders to repay out of their own pockets what’s owed to those employees. Double pension issue? Make the public employees pay back every extra cent they owe. It was never theirs from the beginning. At what point do you get double your money, and in good conscience not ask, why?

Also, throw the bums out. Start voting for ideas, not names. Vote for individuals, not parties, or before long, the repo men will be rolling away Nay Aug, Downtown Square, and the big, fancy Electric City sign. Perhaps — if there were less hand-wringing, finger-pointing, and shoulder-shrugging — Scranton Council could find the time to look into citizen inquiries.

Though, I guess when it’s not your money and you can’t answer questions, your conscience is clear. See no evil, hear no evil, answer to no evil.

The most memorable administration of recent years is Doherty/Evans. Mayor Doherty wanted to “invest” in Scranton; in other words, spend a lot of money the city didn’t have. Evans did not. Doherty occasionally managed to propose cuts, which Evans wouldn’t allow it. Doherty wanted to raise taxes. Evans wouldn’t enact his tax strategies, so she proposed her own. Though so many wag their finger at this circus of an administration (because it was essentially a caricature of a council and mayor) the city’s foundation had been crumbling beneath their feet for decades.

Spruce and Wyoming avenues, Scranton

Spruce and Wyoming avenues, Scranton

They retained two Doherty/Evans council members, and they elected a tax collector of questionable character because the other guy was a Republican.

Council recently returned to session with their tail between their legs after receiving a pretty scathing report from the auditor general about the Double Pension mess. One week, they were abusing residents. Next, they were doing everything except kissing babies and asking the council meeting attendees if they could take them out to dinner afterwards.

It is up to the residents of Scrantaxton to hold its civic leaders accountable, and to make them follow through on their offers. The ball is in their court.

Two Pennsylvania locales dug their way out of the Act 47 hole, Ambridge and Nanticoke. Ambridge rapidly turned their situation around in a mere three years, and they fell into distress not long after Scranton. Nanticoke fell into it later, but emerged sooner.

Council president McGoff called an investigation by council into the Double Pension source a “fool’s enterprise,” despite the fact that based on Scranton’s Home Rule Charter (Article III, Section 312: Investigations) it is their job. Considering that Scrantaxton has been distressed for 23 years despite all the assistance from the Commonwealth, it would appear that the only fool would be the city of Scrantaxton for not finding out the source of the mess. They say if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps, council might want to find out what the holdup is for fixing the city’s ails again.

So many bright, innovative people occupy the city, but Scranton plods along with the same old politicians who follow the same procedures of yesteryear. For a so-called “progressive” city, Scranton regresses with every election. “Going along to get along,” when you know there’s a better way, is no excuse. You’re selling out the voters.

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