09 Feb City Confidential: Week of 2/3/19
Does money buy love or votes? This week, Democratic County Commissioner Jerry Notarianni officially kicked off his campaign for re-election. He’s bringing former Lackawanna County Director of Economic Development George Kelly along for the ride. The two will face Notarianni’s nemesis Patrick O’Malley and an as of yet unnamed running mate in this May’s primary election. There are more than a few Democratic up and comers angry at O’Malley’s decision to switch sides and play ball with Republican Laureen Cummings.
Some speculate that this will be an epic fight to the political death. We disagree. O’Malley saw this coming and has been raising money from special interests hand over fist. He has $254,494 compared to Notarianni’s $6,401. For those interested, Jerry and Friends are having a fundraiser February 20th at La Buona Vita in Dunmore. The price is $50 per head. All they have to do is convince 5,000 people to come and they can make a dent in O’Malley’s formidable financial lead.
With the renewed interest in Freddy Mercury these days, you can forgive those of us at City Confidential who were singing “Another One Bites the Dust” when we read Scranton School Director Robert Casey‘s resignation letter. Casey, with his famous nom de plume and boyish looks, was once looked upon as a rising star. The Gerrity’s clerk was the top vote getter in the 2013 election for Scranton School Board that saw him defeat incumbent Bob Lesh. A few months later, the college student was pulled over by police for having one too many drinks and getting behind the wheel of a car. After a stint in rehab, he returned to the School Board and county politics: he ran unsuccessfully in 2015 for Lackawanna County Clerk of Judicial Records. While posting a respectable showing, he was defeated by Spring Brook resident Mauri Kelly for the $66,000 a year post. Young Casey was re-elected as school director in 2017. While he works for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, he has shown a penchant for sticking his head in the sand and ignoring the mismanagement (BL!) at the Scranton School District.
Speaking of our friend BL, rumor has it that Lesh is not running for re-election this year. A friend received a phone call from the man himself.
The race for City Council has taken shape, at least on the Democratic side. Councilman Tim Perry made a smart choice in picking the likable Andy Chomko. The two will square off against progressive activist Jessica Rothchild and School Director Mark McAndrew. Lots of folks are speculating about Republican Councilman Wayne Evans‘ intentions and whether the watchdog will make another bid for his seat.
Mayor Bill Courtright must be squirrelled away in an undisclosed location because nobody’s seen him. Then again, it may be the same bunker he used before the FBI raids. Courtright is famous around town for not being – well – around town. It’s no surprise then that since the Feds raided City Hall and his house that the karate master has been Missing in Action.
We are going to post signs around town. In the mean time, here is 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