City Confidential: Week of 9/2/18 - Scranton Citizen
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City Confidential: Week of 9/2/18

Scrantonians of all walks of life paid their respects this week to the late Judge William “Terry” J. Nealon.  Judge Nealon, who just days before his passing became the longest serving district court judge in United States history, served the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania for over five decades.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he was known for his integrity, wit, and to those fortunate to know him outside of the courtroom, warmth and kindness.  In 1962, when Nealon was appointed to the federal bench by President John F. Kennedy, he was then the youngest serving federal judge in the country.

That appointment almost never came about.  Nealon served as Chairman of the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee during the 1950s.  He was the right hand of legendary political boss Mike Lawler, who as a county commissioner held together Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition. Thanks in large measure to Lawler’s influence, in 1960, Nealon was selected by then Pennsylvania Governor David Lawrence to fill a vacancy on the Lackawanna County Court.  The following year, he won a full ten year term on the county bench.  When a vacancy on the federal court opened in 1962, Lawler and Lawrence helped persuade Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to select Nealon, who was appointed before Christmas and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 1963.

In a 2011 interview with the Citizen’s Voice, he looked back and said, “Politically and judicially, oh God, I’ve had a good life.”

Mayor Bill Courtright waded into the age old church and state debate this week. Someone has been placing a statute of the Virgin Mary at the firefighter’s memorial at City Hall, riling some good government advocates.  Courtright declined to order the statue’s removal. Instead, he said all faiths are welcome to place religious icons and objects on public property. Mr. Mayor, Pandora says good luck shutting this box.

The botched 3-3 vote at the Board of Education may have been corrected by last Thursday’s meeting, but the aftershocks are still being felt.  Returning for a special meeting, Scranton school directors voted unanimously to formalize the firing of 16 educators. Rosemary Boland, who not long ago was calling the poor laid off workers telling them their jobs were saved, has promised legal action. Several observers now wonder, how long will her members will tolerate Boland’s feckless leadership.

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