24 Aug City Confidential: Week of August 19, 2018
One of the city’s brightest public leaders made a smart decision this week. No, we are not talking about Rosemary Boland’s playing with the emotions of her union members (more on that later). Scott Pilarz, S.J., President of the University of Scranton, acted decisively this week to rescind degrees and rename campus buildings honoring former Diocese of Scranton bishops Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick, and James C. Timlin. Pilarz made the move in the aftermath of the state grand jury report alleging that the three covered up crimes of child sexual abuse committed by diocesan clergy. This is the first time Pilarz, a Jesuit poetry professor turned administrator, has stepped into the public eye since he took back the reigns of the University after a seven year hiatus.
Jason Shrive may not be as essential to Pilarz’s brain trust as he is to Mayor Bill Courtright‘s, but he’s also returning to academia. News broke last week that Shrive, former city solicitor and current Director of the Scranton Sewer Authority, is leaving his position in charge of the agency (where he is the only employee) to teach criminal justice at the University. Shrive made headlines for his controversial role in the sale of the city’s municipal assets and took a star turn as the brains behind Courtright’s 2017 re-election bid.
Score one for Councilman Bill Gaughan, who continues to question Bill Hinton’s sweetheart deal at Nay Aug Park. City Council Solicitor Amil Minora chimed in with a legal opinion concluding that Hinton, the city’s licensing, inspection, and codes manager, violated Scranton’s employee ethics code by using public property for personal profit. Hinton wants to turn an old restroom into a gourmet coffee shop. Gaughan, meanwhile, displays no sign of letting up.
One can forgive the Scranton School District for scratching its head this week thanks to Rosemary Boland. Boland, head of the teachers union, notified her members those let go in the latest budget cuts would be getting their jobs back following the state’s award of $6 million to the struggling district. She even produced a dubious document backing up her assertions, claiming it was from Governor Tom Wolf’s office. Dr. Alexis Kirijan, superintendent, and directors Barbara Dixon and Paul Duffy travelled to Harrisburg to review the details of the additional funding. No one handed them anything from the Governor and a state education spokesperson flat out refuted Boland’s claims.