Going, Going, Gaughan: Scoring Points for Higher Office
April 1, 2016

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to get ahead in the political arena.  I find, though, that how ones does so often taints the process.  There’s a reason why most people hate politics and think politicians are self-serving and power-hungry.

While all of my interactions with Bill Gaughan have been positive, and I find him to be a personally agreeable man, every article I read in the Scranton Times that features him tells me one very important thing: Bill will be running for higher office.  Mayor?  State Rep?  Both, in time?

I take issue with this for two reasons.  First, the Times enables this, because they hate the Courtright administration and Gaughan criticizes it as a means to generate populist attention for himself.  The second reason is because it is blatant pandering.  Ever notice how smooth those quotes are?  That’s very well-thought out.  Made-for-media sound bytes.

I’ve noticed this since Mr. Gaughan got on Council, and it’s bothered me.  It’s been happening with enough consistency that I’m going to start dismantling the sound bytes when I see them.  Expect a regular column (hence the title).

On April 1st, in this article, Councilman Gaughan joins the Times in rewriting history and blaming the Courtright administration for the large arbitration award that the city negotiated.  Take a look:

But Mr. Gaughan said that while the city must pay the judgment, he likened the unions’ deadline of June 30 for the city to pay and concessions to start as Mr. Courtright allowing the city to be “held hostage.” Citing Mr. Courtright’s pushing through of contract extensions last year, he said the mayor is “giving away the store again.”

“This agreement is just another example of the mayor following rather than leading and caving to the demands of the police and fire union, instead of negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers of Scranton,” Mr. Gaughan said.

We start off seeing that Gaughan acknowledges we have no choice but to pay, but blames Courtright anyway.  This happened under Doherty’s watch.  He also takes issue with the methodology by which we pay the obligation.  This is farcical for a multitude of reasons.  First, the unions forgave a lot of the debt back in 2011 (any thanks from Gaughan?).  Second, Mayor Courtright got additional concessions.  Retirees forgave millions and interest from the award will go into the distressed pension fund.  These are wonderful give-backs and here’s the thing: the unions were under ZERO obligation to help this city in this way (any thanks from Gaughan?).  That’s twice they demonstrated a major willingness to help the city.  But it’s not enough for Councilman Gaughan.  How this is “giving away the store” makes no sense, given the savings Courtright realized for the city. How this is “following” rather than leading is also nonsense.  Oh, and that extension of the contract that Gaughan criticizes?  Under Mayor Doherty, the unions contributed 3% of their salary to their pensions.  As part of that extension, Courtright convinced the unions to DOUBLE their contributions to 6% (any thanks from Gaughan?).   The mayor saved a fortune for city taxpayers and is actively solving the pension crisis.  That’s leadership, plain and simple.

But this is the era of Donald Trump, where truth and facts don’t matter.  Bluster, bravado, and media attention are where it’s at.

It’s too bad we have a Councilman who plays that game.  Scranton deserves better.


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  1. But does the city deserve better? Ethnicity and voting district (not education or experience) determine the votes for city office. He has to move up or out–commissioner did not work, state rep will not (Farina/Flynn are there forever), so it’s mayor or bust. Courtright got 50% last time. I can’t see it going higher. Maybe worth a try.


    1. Of course the city deserves better than a panderer. Gaughan hasn’t a job, so he could think about Controller or Tax Collector, but he doesn’t have the qualifications. His only qualification for Mayor would be that he sat on Council for a term.

      As for Courtright, he’ll definitely go higher, as long as he has the right media team and message. His agreement with the unions is good for the city. The SSA deal is great for the city. He deserves a lot of credit, particularly since he was handed quite the shit sandwich by the Doherty administration.