Sunday, July 28, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2483, July 28th, 2013

Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien. (Photo: LuLac archives). 


The Scranton Times reported last week that after a nationwide search to fill the job of Executive Director for the Scranton Chamber of Commerce, two finalists were named. With the notoriety of “The Office” program as well as Scranton’s long history, you would think that there might be one qualified candidate to make the breakthrough from out of town. But according to the newspaper, two local men were the finalists. They are County Commissioner Corey O’Brien and former Scranton Chamber staffer Bob Durkin. Durkin currently serves with the Northeast Regional Cancer Center. The choice is intriguing and has created a lot of buzz in circles this week. The biggest talk has been the salary of outgoing Chamber Head Austin Burke who is making a reported $350,000 dollars a year. And of course in the transition, Burke is serving as a “consultant” that to some is just another excuse for a paycheck for doing very little. 
With the Wilkes Barre Chamber being a joke that virtually no one respects, (just look to the keen investments the Chamber made in moribund real estate properties no one can fix or want) the Scranton Chamber is the last vestige of hope for any real economic development in Scranton/Wilkes Barre). (The Hazleton CanDo organization has done great work and seemed to avoided the pitfalls of Wilkes Barre). If Scranton and Lackawanna County is to succeed economically in the years ahead, the person they must name to this post is Corey O’Brien. Here’s why: 
1. O’Brien is young, energetic and has incredible gifts that are just waiting to be used in a position of influence and power. O’Brien has made it clear that he is a believer in the future of this area. He has put himself out there on numerous occasions, sometimes successfully, other times not. But he is a man in search of a vehicle to catapult this area into this century with his talents. 
2. There will some who will tell you that O’Brien is abrasive and audacious. That he constantly overreaches, is ambitious  and has big dreams. His detractors will tell you that O’Brien is only out for himself but if that was the case, why did he move back here instead of staying in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia where there were numerous opportunities for him? 
3. O’Brien’s political record is a mixed one. He has been a twice elected County Commissioner and ran for Congress against an entrenched incumbent and lost. His first term as Commissioner with Mike Washo instituted badly needed reforms in the Lackawanna County Commissioners Office. It is not surprising that after his first term, O’Brien had a close race for renomination. Entrenched political entities and staffers, there before he got in office did not like to be told that under his watch they could not even accept a cup of coffee as a gift. That tended to piss people off. O’Brien’s run for Congress to some might have seemed quixotic but that was O’Brien at his finest, daring to dream and make the case for something better, something different, something bigger. 
 3. The Scranton Chamber as well as all of Northeastern Pennsylvania needs a viable organization that will need someone daring, need someone bold and someone that will advocate for this region. O’Brien makes a hell of a first impression. And once he has an idea or a concept, he will not let it go in the dustbin of naysayers and special interest cronies. And we all know there are plenty of those around here. 
4. Why do you think economic growth here in this region is so stunted? Are we any different than the Allentown/Harrisburg areas? Are we not as good? O’Brien will be the person to tell that story to people outside the region but also to those who need to hear it inside this area. With audacity and smarts also comes some courage. As well as a healthy lack of fear. The Chamber needs a fearless person in the top job right now. 
Northeastern Pennsylvania has been “studied” to death by organizations like the NEPA Development Council and The Pennsylvania Economy League. Wilkes Barre has been real estated to death by its incompetent Chamber and Scranton has been riding on the coattails of a fictional TV show that essentially made it a quasi character in the hit series. But that was luck. And luck doesn’t create an image or jobs. 
Bob Durkin was an associate of the Chamber in the eighties and nineties. Some say he was Austin Burke’s right hand man. Does that experience fall under the good or bad category? Surely Durkin knows the operations of the Chamber but after thirty years of a plodding, careful, let’s make no mistakes style, do Chamber members want more of the same? You can make the argument that an Administrative Assistant worth any salt can give O’Brien the lay of the land in under a week. And O’Brien’s political affiliations in Washington as well as Harrisburg might serve the Chamber better in business than someone who has been working in Health Care the last decade or so. 
The Scranton Chamber, in its choice to succeed Burke needs to do something out of the box. They need to pick a charismatic person of vision who will inspire, not be afraid to take chances and accept the job with the intention of doing something instead of being somebody. 
Corey O’Brien is the man for the job. 
It would be a shame if the business leaders of the Scranton area passed up their opportunity to give O’Brien the reins of their organization. The stakes here are big, it just isn’t about the business based member organization, it is about the future economic development of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The decision has to be made and it’s a hard one. 
Does the Scranton Chamber want to stay put or move forward? 
Let’s hope they move forward with Corey O’Brien.


At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great thoughts. I voted for O'Brien twice as Commissioner and think he can wow the nation in bringing business to Scranton.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O'Brien brings an incredible skill set. He is an Attorney, worked in the White House, saved a community center in Dunmore when he was a kid, is great with the media and as Yonk noted makes a very good first impression.
Does Durkin bring any of those skills?
Just wondering. But as it stands now, I agree with the Yonk on this one.

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've met these two men. Impressed with O'Brien.
Durkin not so much.
What, Liz Randol wasn't available?

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your friend and political sparing partner has left a new comment on your post "The LuLac Edition #2483, July 28th, 2013":

Well if Steve Corbett comes out against Corey, you know Corey is the right person for the job.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me begin by saying I love your site- it's very insightful and well put together.
I personally know Corey- went to HS with him at Dunmore. I do not know Durkin at all.
You could not be more wrong about O'Brien- he is the ultimate back-stabber who is only out for #1. He is constantly trying to find another job- think about his last few jobs he's had or applied for since moving back from DC:
Radio Host
TV Host
Lackawanna County Commissioner
US Senate (vs Kanjo/lost)
Ran again for Lack CC with Jeanette Acciare-Mariani- she lost and he had to run with rival Jim Wansacz.
Now he wants another job.
Think about this- Why is he always trying to get another job? Hiding something? And why did he leave the cushy job in DC? Don't tell me it was his pride of his hometown. There's a reason.
Think about it.
Love the site. Thanks for reading this.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

7:02 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home