Most Scranton residents don’t live like lords and ladies of the manor.
Most people in my city get by the best they can, many struggling to pay rent and property taxes and otherwise surviving on a day-to-day basis without many frills.
Butt we do, indeed, have our lords and ladies of the manor.
Stop by the University of Scranton and ask to talk to the president about the way he lives. Stop by Lackawanna College and ask to talk with the new president about the way he lives. Stop by the majestic Commonwealth Medical College and ask to talk to the president about the way she, or he or whoever the newest president in a line of washed-out has-beens happens to be, and ask about the luxurious lifestyle that likely still provides a presidential membership to the hoity-toity Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre.
All the presidents are like chief executives living at the top of the heap, tossing crumbs to the peasants below.
And, if you stop by, you’ll be lucky to get past the presidential secretary before she calls security.
The University of Scranton president won’t talk to me, and I’m a long-time member of the press. The president of Lackawanna College has stopped returning my phone calls. The Medical College is more like Frankenstein’s Castle than a welcoming part of my community, where five generations of my family has walked long before any of these college presidents were born.
Yet they behave like royalty.
I’ll give them that. These pompous posers are, indeed, a royal pain in the bottom - the bottom line, that is. And the bottom of the barrel for the people of Scranton is that we are in deep, deep trouble that will take wisdom, vision and, above all, money to see us through.
These major city institutions, as well as others, including the big hospital on the hill once known as CMC that has been taken over by Geisinger, pay no property tax. They are exempt, immune, a no-go area for city leaders to go for help. I’m talking about real assistance, not a cheese sandwich like we’re ragged paupers looking for white glove charity. The existence of this city depends on far more than lace-curtain hand-outs. We need major infusions of cash in exchange for the power and the glory these institutions enjoy in this place.
Frankly, most of us had no say in their coming here in the first place. They decided for themselves – through the great intellect of board members such as millionaire ex-felon Louis DeNaples, his brother and their powerful political pals – people like former state senator and disgraced admitted criminal Bob Mellow - to put down roots right here in Scranton .
So don’t expect the good people of Scranton to pick up the slack for privilege that makes all these executives more like robber barons than Robin Hoods. We do have our share of hoods in that gang of community pillars, by the way.
Wait and see how many of these esteemed concerned citizens write letters of reference to the federal judge on behalf of Mellow when he gets sentenced. See how many of them overlook this gangster’s major crimes and his pillaging of the very public trust they piously claim to represent.
Despite their clout, these wealthy institutional leaders now find themselves in a fix.
Warring Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and City Council President Janet Evans have finally agreed to come looking for money from these institutions – more money in some cases and first money in the case of Lackawanna College – a school that just threw a huge and costly coronation for their politically-connected president who Mellow personally appointed to the state ethics commission.
Most of these joints make a PILOT, a payment in lieu of taxes. But they don’t nearly give enough or pay their fair share for what they receive in exchange for doing business in Scranton.
Yeah, yeah, I know.
We’re supposed to give thanks every day that these lords and ladies walk in our midst
I give thanks for feral cats, too, because they keep the rats away.
But quality of life depends on more than rodent control.
The non-profit “U” even allowed for-profit companies such as the homophobic “Chick-fil-A” to set up shop in the campus food court. University officials agree with the poultry company CEO’s much-publicized bigotry against gay people because the Church also takes great pride in discriminating against gay people.
But the for-profit foray should nullify the “U’s” non-profit status. And for that reason the city should take them to court and sue the feathers off them. I’ll testify as a character witness - for my town, not for the corporate “non-profit” hucksters.
The free lunch is over.
We peasants are tired of picking up the tab.
The palace rallying cry of “Let them eat chicken nuggets” is over.