25 Jan City Confidential: Week of 1/20/19
It has been weeks since the FBI raided City Hall and the West Mountain residence of Mayor Bill Courtright. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much doing. A recap of what we know:
- FBI agents executed search warrants and conducted a raid of City Hall and the Mayor’s West Mountain home on Wednesday, January 9th
- The agents removed documents and computer devices
- The Mayor has engaged attorney Paul Walker to represent him both legally and, apparently, to the public
- Walker’s fees will be paid by the Mayor and not city taxpayers
- Walker issued a press release denying any wrongdoing on the part of the Mayor
- In the same statement, Walker stated that the searches were related to campaign finance issues
- The FBI has not confirmed, and will not confirm, the purpose of the searches
- City Council is not happy. Council President and Courtright ally Pat Rogan appeared visibly bothered by the situation
- Both Rogan and city administrator David Bulzoni have met with Courtright. Rogan said they did not discuss the raids and Bulzoni told the Scranton Times-Tribune that the Mayor said he could not discuss the specifics of the matter
The reality is that we may not know the reason for the raids for a while to come. After all, Robert Mueller has been investigating President Donald Trump since May 2017. Assuming that the FBI agents acted on the orders of U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, it may be months before insiders and citizens alike learn the reasons behind their actions. There are rumors, of course, but out of respect for those who are innocent until proven guilty, we refuse to publish them. Last night, a source telephoned, someone who we would say is an expert in city politics. She said, “I don’t know what happened but I’m smart enough to know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not knock down the door of your office, let alone your domicile, without hard evidence.”
Local physical therapist Jessica Rothchild has officially announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination for one of two City Council seats up this November. Rothchild, 28, is a native of New Jersey. She attended the University of Scranton and settled here with her wife following graduation. For what it’s worth, she looks to have picked up the support of newly elected State Representative Kyle Mullins and the leaders of the Lackawanna County Young Democrats. While neither Democratic incumbent Tim Perry or Republican incumbent Wayne Evans have publicly announced their plans for re-election, the smart money is on them making another run. We are unsure whether Lackawanna County Democratic Chairman Chris Patrick has decided to throw his weight behind the young up and comer. Perhaps his hands are full?
Democratic State Representative Marty Flynn announced last week a $35,000 state grant for Scranton schools. While that’s a drop in the financial bucket, it may be a sign of things to come. Flynn was named this month by Jordan Harris, Minority Whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, as one of several deputy whips.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale brought his road show to Scranton Wednesday night. With former Scranton School Board member Paige Gebhardt Cognetti sitting front and center, DePasquale fielded questions from parents, teachers, residents, and the occasional student. Conspicuously absent were Board President Barbara Dixon, Vice President (and Auditor General employee) Robert Casey, School Directors Bob Lesh, Gopal Patel, Greg Popil, and Superintendent Dr. Alexis Kirijan. DePasquale was laser focused on the mismanagement here in Scranton. That was the case before Cognetti joined his team. We expect that her inside knowledge coupled with his determination to grab headlines spells trouble for the powers that be. BL we are looking at you!