Sunday, November 05, 2017

The LuLac Edition #3639, November 5th, 2017



James Mulligan (Photo: Times Tribune)
This year’s race for Mayor of Scranton is a re-match from 2013. Bill Courtright faces off again with James Mulligan. But the similarity ends there. Courtright is now the incumbent Mayor and has a record, for better or worse to run on. Mulligan who entered the race after the primary last year has been running non stop since he was beaten in 2013.
Mulligan is facing a Courtright machine that analytically focused on turnout as well as what voters he could count on. An incumbency plus that data might be hard to beat.
But Mulligan is running on change. But this time he is running against Courtright’s change charging that instead of reforming the city, the Mayor has sold off city assets. He also says that the infrastructure in the city has deteriorated and not improved.
As President of the Green Ridge Neighborhood Association, Jim fought against the sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority and he continues to fight for improved water and environmental quality. And as a member of the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s team, Jim has worked to make sure our streets are safe for the people of Lackawanna County.
But mulligan has a history of unpaid bills. Hey, I get it, the guy has 10 kids, yada, yada, yada……but one has to wonder how he can run a city when his own bills go unpaid. But there are many Scrantonians who feel that those flaws of late bills can be overcome by his campaign. There are a lot of Mulligan yard signs and many point to the major difference of 2013 vs 2017.
Mulligan was endorsed by the GOP committee in August of 2013. He had only 100 days to put together a campaign and came within 1500 votes of winning. The Mulligan people are hoping he can win. But the key here is whether the wretched excuse for a Republican party in The Lac will get the turnout for the Scranton Attorney to prevail.


Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright (Photo: Times Tribune)
If you walk into a room and expect a Mayor of Scranton to blast through as other past Chief Executives of the Electric City have done, you’d be hard pressed looking for Bill Courtright. He has the demeanor and the look of an efficient book keeper or pilot. My feeling is that when Courtwright won in 2013, the city was looking for a little less drama. And it seems they got it.
In four years without fanfare, here’s what happened:
•Rescued the city from impending bankruptcy. With only 90 days standing between the City and financial insolvency as predicted by internationally regarded Moody’s, Mayor Courtright secured the expertise and solutions to exiting from Act 47…the distressed city label that has loomed over Scranton for almost 30 years.
•Provided residents with the biggest street paving program in the city’s history
•Completely overhauled the city’s street lighting system…modernizing lighting and enhancing citizen’s safety while, at the same time, saving $400,000 per year in electricity costs.
•The sale of the Sewer Authority to PA American Water has helped lead the city to financial solvency and toward Federal compliance. The sale netted Scranton $83 million dollars AND saved the city another $140 million by taking tax payers off the hook by not having to pay for EPA mandated upgrades (instead of massive rate hikes to keep up with federal mandates the average Scranton resident will only see an increase of about $5.00 per month to meet federal standards).
•Carved away at the city’s debt by refinancing the city’s interest rate, removing the Scranton Parking Authority’s bond default albatross from the back of city taxpayers and restored the city’s bond rating and in the process earned a Moody’s “Credit Positive Rating”.
•Settled and paid an arbitration award of nearly $30 Million WITHOUT raising property taxes in 2017.
•Stabilized city pension funds and worked to have unionized employees double their contributions
It seems like after the glitter of a McNulty, the heroism of a Wentzel, the hail fellow well met, next door neighbor aura of Connors, the national exposure engendered by the aggressiveness of Doherty's Marketing, Scranton finally went for the quiet guy who decided to dive into the carry over issues that’s been bedeviling it for nearly 35 years.
The thinking is that maybe the city might not want to gamble on another dubious choice.
To be clear these accomplishments are not a guarantee of a re-election. Voters can be swayed by emotion. In my mind this will be closer than people think.
What I have seen from Courtight is how he put Scranton back on track. What I have not seen from Mulligan is how he can do better.


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