14 Dec City Confidential: Week of 12/9/18
Well, that was fast. Twenty-four months and five days after being appointed to the Scranton School Board Director Paige Gebhardt Cognetti tendered her resignation. Cognetti announced her decision this week in a public Facebook post. She’s also accepted a job working for Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who like Cognetti, has doggedly pursued matters of financial malpractice within the Scranton School District.
We don’t blame the reform minded Ivy League graduate for wanting out. During her two-year tenure, she took on entrenched interests and was the brunt of jokes, name calling, and misogynistic treatment by her colleagues.
The knock on Cognetti has been that she is not from here. The Oregon transplant does not understand the city’s relationship based brand of tribal politics. “She’s not one of us” has been bandied about by critics seated on more than one bar stool. That’s ridiculous. If Scranton’s city government, schools, and economy are ever going to climb out of the whole that’s been dug for us by generations of leaders who are “one of us,” we need to welcome leaders like Cognetti.
That is not to say that we don’t have plenty of intelligent, public service minded home grown talent. You don’t need a degree from Harvard to do good. The City Council has demonstrated a capacity for cooperation and thoughtful debate. Cognetti leaves behind a minority group of directors committed to tackling the mismanagement and corruption that plagues the school district.
Those in power, and those aspiring to be, should reject the old school politics that got our city into this mess to begin with. We wish Cognetti well. She has been a breath of fresh air and we look forward to watching her career in the years ahead.