The best way to gauge Lackawanna County minority Republican Commissioner Patrick O’Malley’s public service is by the number of photographs of the grinning elected official you can find in the Scranton daily newspaper.
That’s why we call him “Take-My-Picture-Please, Cheeese” O’Malley.
The only time O’Malley has refused a photo that I’m aware of is when he was invited to pose with the Three Kings during a Christmas celebration at the South Side senior citizens’ center. He instinctively started to grin until he noticed that I was one of the kings.
Our Pat is not known for vision or leadership.
When an alert listener sent me a mailer he recently received from O’Malley’s re-election committee, I knew Pat was again up to no good. Raising money is expected in politics, but collecting cash through a re-election committee is craven and devious when you’re not even up for re-election.
But that doesn’t stop our Pat, whose “Fourth Annual Outing” is scheduled later this month at a private social club known for its Tiki Bar. Adjacent to neighbors of Italian, Irish and Polish descent, the club is located in the South Pacific section of the city.
Okay, Scranton doesn’t boast a hula friendly neighborhood but that’s the kind of response from Democratic and Republican flacks you can expect if you question such glaring manipulation of representative democracy. In Scranton, where crave assaults on their common sense, the more glaring the better.
Of course such pandering is an accepted part of regional public service.
The more money you collect the more checks you can write to support your buddies’ political campaigns and cash in on public opinion by handing out money for pee wee baseball, social clubs, old folks’ causes and other money grubbing ventures designed to win approval and, more importantly, votes. Word on the street is that Cheese O’Malley is spreading the love to both parties because he’s not quite clear what he represents and might one day run as a Democrat.
This is the oldest game in town.
One famous member of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s convicted criminal contingent of former public servant felons has played all sides of the street. Former Democrat/Republican Lackawanna County Commissioner Bob Cordaro is serving 11 years in a federal prison camp in New Jersey. Our Bobby loved everybody who loved him back in dollars.
Cordaro’s partner in crime, A.J. Munchak, is serving seven big ones in the sunny south for a similar racket.
Munchak’s former assistant is now O’Malley’s assistant.
You would think that after the federal investigation, jury trial in which her name came up as a loyal campaign worker and county worker, conviction, sentencing and onslaught of press coverage, that she would be more careful when it comes to using government resources for anything other than official public service government work.
But the lessons of larceny are lost on Lackawanna County losers.
When I called O’Malley’s government office during working hours last week to ask for tickets to the partisan political fundraiser, this same seasoned political vet told me that she would be happy to pass along my request to a “committeeperson” if I would leave my name and address.
She didn’t know it was me since I altered my voice to the weak volume of a sad sack O’Malley constituent down on my luck and looking for help.
But name and address are those two basic pieces of information that contribute to the database that O’Malley can use when he decides to run for dog catcher or president. That request also violates campaign law, according to one lawyer with whom I spoke.
The woman should have immediately told me that she cannot and will not discuss any political campaign on company time, that the people’s business is what she is paid to perform and that to do otherwise would be a breach of ethics and law.
Instead she quickly offered to connect me with the political fixer who would take my cash in exchange for clambake tickets.
Whoa. Did I just say clambake? Yes I did. Clambake, picnic, outing – call it what you will. They’re all the same in the sordid world of political maneuvering.
And that’s exactly what longtime former state senator and Democratic Party warlord Bob Mellow was doing before he got busted and went to prison for using state employees to do campaign work on the public time and dime.
Mellow’s local clambake was famous. Governors, U.S. senators and worse attended every year. And “The Friends of Bob Mellow” malfunctioned the same way O’Malley’s assistant malfunctioned, crossing lines between right and wrong as the boss made law and talked about upholding the public trust.
I even pulled the same stunt on Mellow’s staff that I pulled on O’Malley’s – successfully calling Mellow’s government office on government time to get put in touch with ticket sellers who would gladly take my hard-earned cash so their hustler boss could continue to perpetuate his fraud on the voters.
Mission accomplished both times.
So once again we lose. And nobody in any elected public service role will come to our aid and help us do something about it.
O’Malley’s assistant refused to return my call when I called her back to talk about what she had done.
O’Malley refused to return my call as well.
I know. I know. Cheese was out somewhere getting his picture taken posing as a public servant.