Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lights Out

I was born and raised here.

I am of an age when going to downtown Scranton, on one of those old, big, green smelly Scranton Transit buses, with mom, was a big deal.  I looked forward to it.

We had The Globe, Scranton Dry, and Kresge's, Woolworth's, Samter's and a dozen other stores to visit.

It was a big deal.

I can still see the Christmas lights, all the window displays, along with Tibby and Freckles, the Easter bunnies.  I can still taste the big cookies from The Globe's bakery, the smell of the leather in the shoe departments

That's why I find the city's current "edge of bankruptcy" status utterly nauseating.

Council and the mayor can't agree on what to do, and that's just plain sad.  The city deserves better.

A former chief executive, who shall remain nameless, while in office, once told me he should have declared bankruptcy, but he didn't want to be known as the mayor who led Scranton into bankruptcy.

The current powers that be-- the mayor and five council members, might as well go ahead and do it.  The city's reputation and image are already shot to hell.  It can't get much worse.  It's clear fighting and name calling have overshadowed rational thought, consideration of solutions, and true leadership.

If you've been keeping up with this in the news, you already known an official wants to go to Marywood and the University of Scranton ask them to update their payments in lieu of taxes.  The carrot and stick?  Give us money, and you won't be faced with the problem of trying to attract students to a school in a bankrupt city.

Are you kidding me?  Is that the best you can do?

I will agree that some (not all) non profits can afford to kick in a few extra dollars.  It's not the cash cow people believe it to be, and, how would you like to be the one to tell a kid he or she can't get financial aid or a scholarship because the city put the squeeze on them?

The U has more of the Hill section than it ever had, and some properties are no longer taxable.  Would you rather have the slum lords return?  If the kids are in a college owned building, the U at least has some control over them and they behave.  The Hill hasn't been this quiet in a long, long time.  We don't need the police and fire departments up there as often as we once did, and that saves the city money.  On top of that, the living conditions are much safer.

You also have to come to the realization that cuts alone will not do the job.  Your taxes are going up.

Bankruptcy could be the beginning of a way out, rather than the end of a once proud city.

If not bankruptcy, let's find a good idea.

Somebody, please do something.