Letters To The Editor 4/14/2019
Name’s the shame
Editor: It’s pretty slick how the Lackawanna County commissioners wrangled themselves a convenient, modern, on-site employee snack shop while skirting criticism for that indulgence by allowing entry to us, the unwashed taxpayers.
The storied name of the former Charl-Mont restaurant is about to be used in vain.
Where’s the prime rib carving station attended by stewards dressed in crisp chef’s whites? Where’s the signature steamship round of beef? What about the roast turkey club, the roast beef au jus and — on those rare occasions of going there as a special treat — my childhood go-to, chicken croquettes? Where’s the place where every menu offering down to the most modest tuna salad sandwich was served on china with a cloth napkin? Where is the atmosphere that seemed to embody a casual big city elegance that otherwise had been confined to the movies? Not here, that’s for sure.
Name the windowless cell of premade hoagies and soft drink coolers that was pitched on the YouTube video of the commissioners’ press presentation the Politician’s Picnic or the County Cafe or something. Calling it the Charl-Mont is like wheeling a hot dog cart downtown and calling it Preno’s just because you parked it at the corner of Lackawanna and Adams avenues.
Editor: April 3, the Lackawanna County commissioners approved a no-political-firing policy. I have no problem with that. But isn’t it time for legislators to adopt a hiring, retention and promotion policy that forces public employees pay their fair share of taxes and fees?
March 27, The Times-Tribune reported that Kenneth Norton, the newly appointed Scranton school director, owed $27,000 in delinquent taxes and garbage fees. Three days later, the newspaper alerted readers to Scranton’s $16.8 million in delinquent garbage fees and published a list of those who had not paid. Sadly, that list included several public employees, including Fran Pantuso, the county’s chief of staff, who draws an annual salary of $70,000.
I realize that unforeseen emergencies happen and some taxpayers and ratepayers may need payment plans. That does not mean people can ignore their civic duty while accepting taxpayer-funded paychecks.
I asked the commissioners about their hiring policy but have yet to receive an answer. So here’s a recommendation: Those applying for a public sector job at the federal, state and local level must first pass a drug screen, a criminal background check and a check on federal, state and local taxes and fees. If the applicant is in arrears, he must explain why and present a government-approved payment plan. A similar check should be made during annual performance reviews and whenever an employee is recommended for promotion.
Taxes and fees are the price we pay for civilization, but no one is entitled to a free ride — especially those paid by taxpayers. I offer this advice for public employees who think the rules don’t apply to them: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Greatness takes hold
Editor: Pretty soon America will be great again. All signs point to it. Great America is coming.
I’ve grown old in Mediocre America, and Great America might take some getting used to. It won’t need three equal branches of government, for instance. One — the executive — is plenty. I doubt that many people will notice this. It’s been on the way for a long time.
Alternative facts are here and they’re great, much better than Mediocre America lies. Alternative facts are instant, invective-laden, proof-immaterial, deniable, incendiary and research-free. Great America has used them to uncover subversive conspiracies and hoaxes like fake birth certificates, fake news, voter fraud, the deep state, corruption, science, open borders, crowd size, rigged elections, treason and witch hunts. Real facts will be relegated to supporting roles.
Remember the snowball that Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma displayed in Congress in 2015 to debunk the climate change hoax? That’s fine with a huge swath of the electorate. But I’m confused. How is it that we love Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un but hate Sen. John McCain?
The culture wars are over and Great America will declare winners. We know who they’ll be, along with the losers. I can’t guess what they’ll do to the losers.
But we have a hint. Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King recently posted a question on Facebook. Who would win a red state/blue state civil war? “One side is armed with about 8 trillion bullets,” he wrote, “while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”
That post was about as serious as this letter. But, if there is a civil war, blue staters, don’t hide in the wrong bathroom. Great America will be coming ... for you.