Friday, May 25, 2012

Scranton, a Case Study in Democratic Governance


Scranton was declared a distressed city in 1992 under Pennsylvania’s Act 47.1

Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty has been in charge of the City of Scranton for ten years – a decade under which the city has been unable to escape the designation.  Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Mayor Jim Connors held the reins on the city for the preceding ten years of financial trouble.

During his 2001 campaign as the endorsed Democrat for Mayor, Doherty promised to not only escape Scranton’s distressed status, but also reduce the wage tax by .1% each year.2  Doherty broke his promises.

Doherty also stated during the 2001 campaign, “you can't be spending any more money than you bring in.”He hasn’t ever really taken his own advice.

The Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL), acting in their capacity as the city’s appointed Act 47 coordinator, released a revised recovery plan dated 3/27/2012.4  The findings of the recovery plan have been largely unreported.

For example, as of 1 January 2012, the City of Scranton’s long term debt was $122,080,101.5  According to the last census, 76,089 people lived in the Electric City – so each of them owes $1,604.43 for Doherty’s long-term debt.

Scranton guarantees the debt of the Scranton Parking Authority which currently owes at least $95.6 million.6  That means each resident of the city also owes an additional $1,256.42 for the excesses of this authority whose members are appointed by one person, Chris Doherty.

So, to square just the debt mentioned above, every Scrantonian would have to cut a check for $2,860.85 to the city.  And not everyone household, that’s every man, woman and child that lives in the city.  Family of four?  Your share is $11,443.40.

The democratic leadership in the City of Scranton has financially destroyed the city as they have in 12 other cities under a distressed designation.  Yes, the mayor of every distressed city in the Commonwealth is a Democrat.

Scranton, like the other distressed cities spanning Penn’s Woods, have a choice ahead of them.  Many will get the chance to make this critical choice next year.  They can continue to embrace the Democratic policies and politicians that have destroyed them or start electing Republicans.  And please, not just any person with an R after their name.  They should elect Republicans that will not raise taxes, will not increase spending, and will not sacrifice the children of their community on an altar of debt.  Republicans, who understand how to grow their city out of debt and have a plan to do it.

Scranton, you have kicked the can down the road long enough.  If you want leaders that will lead, start electing them.  Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself for the situation you are in.
1(Jim Lockwood.  4/22/2012.  Roots of Scranton's financial distress stretch back decades.  The Times-Tribune)
2(Donnie Collins. 5/10/2001.  Doherty says he has vision to restore city.  The Tribune)
3(Borys Krawczeniuk.  5/20/2001.  If I Were Mayor of the City.  The Sunday Times)
4(Gerald E. Cross, Executive Director. Pennsylvania Economy League, Central PA.  Proposed Revised and Updated Act 47 Recovery Plan for the City of Scranton.  Retrieved from http://pelcentral.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Proposed-Scranton-City-RRP-March-28-Release.pdf.)
5(Cross.  Page viii)
6(Cross.  Page ix)

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