Thursday, February 28, 2013
Liz Randol lost her gun. Or misplaced it. Or loaned it to a friend and he lost it. Or he misplaced it. Or somebody stole it from him. Or the dog ate it.
I’m not sure how the Scranton Democratic mayoral candidate’s loaded Sig Sauer .380 wound up on a sidewalk near a bar she likes that is a block away from an elementary school in a residential neighborhood loaded with innocent kids and the occasional drug dealer.
All I know for sure is that disaster could have easily exploded in the city she wants to lead had a child or dealer with an itchy trigger finger found it.
A child could have died. A cop could have died. An older person out for a walk could have died.
Randol, 41, writes off the lost gun as an embarrassing mistake from which she can learn. The biggest lesson here is that, despite her Ph.D. in philosophy and teaching experience at the University of Scranton, despite awards and plaudits from local businesses and non-profits, despite county and state government connections and despite heartfelt applause from the young, beautiful people who adore her, Randol is no longer mayoral material.
Too smart for her own good, Randol let us down. Nothing even remotely hip blossoms from negligence that could have easily killed somebody.
Scranton has enough problems without putting anybody in the mayor’s office who will not walk voters and taxpayers every step of the way through such a drastic story. We need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so we can decide for ourselves if Randol is responsible enough to lead this distressed city, let alone the police department.
I stress lead – not loan. Randol refuses to publicly identify her “friend,” to whom she now claims she loaned her gun after target shooting in November 2011 in Wayne County. He liked the gun, she said, and offered to clean it. But that’s not what police say Randol told them when they called to tell her they had her loaded firearm. Police say the woman who would be mayor told them she did not recall when she last saw her gun – loaded or otherwise – and never mentioned target shooting or loaning her gun to a friend.
Still, bells and sirens should have immediately gone off in the cops’ heads. Randol’s head must have been ringing. I imagine it still is. I know mine is.
So I decided to start from the beginning and try to prove exactly how this mayoral candidate’s loaded gun wound up on the street outside a bar a block away from an elementary school in the city Randol vows to lead into a brighter future.
Scranton police told me that a good citizen had found the loaded gun, thought that part of Prescott Avenue was in Dunmore rather than Scranton and took the gun to the Dunmore police station. From there, Scranton police somehow got involved and eventually returned Randol’s gun without pressing her for answers about how such a gross violation of public safety had occurred.
Randol first publicly mentioned her “friend” when she and I spoke on the air last week after varying troubling versions of the gun incident surfaced – more than a year after the incident – some versions which Randol vigorously denied.
When I called last week for the report, Scranton police said they had just reopened the case because Randol had stopped by headquarters an hour or so earlier and asked for a copy of the report. Randol questioned the accuracy of the more-than-a-year-old report, saying that she first found out her gun was missing when police called and not before, as the report reportedly stated. I say “reportedly” because police have now sealed the report that has been available all year because the case is open again.
Scranton police said they knew nothing about Randol’s claim that she loaned her gun to anybody. For that reason, they said they wanted to interview that mystery man. I do not know whether that interview has taken place. After I identified and obtained a phone number for Mr. X from his place of public employment, he failed to return several detailed messages I left for him – not at all polite since I have known his family for decades.
As for Randol, I’ll have more questions for her later.
Same goes for her Democratic opponent, respected West Side martial arts teacher and city tax collector Bill Courtright, who has returned my calls and left anxious messages denying that he knows any details about the case or that some people accuse his supporters of spreading the gun story whenever and wherever possible.
I stopped by the Dunmore police station earlier thus week and asked to see their report concerning the man who found and turned in Randol’s gun. The acting chief said he’d check for the report and get back to me. He has not yet called to say whether a Dunmore police report exists.
Randol confirms that she has a concealed weapons permit that authorizes her to carry a loaded firearm. Mr. X is also said to be a concealed weapons permit carrier. Both permits should be immediately revoked for gross irresponsibility.
Irresponsibility sooner or later comes back to bite you - which, of course, is far better than getting shot.
Reckless Randol did this to herself and should lose her bid for mayor.