Scranton PAC: Buying the Integrity of Directors Who’ll Sell It
December 30, 2017

In today’s paper, Borys points out that the Scranton PAC called in a few sitting Scranton School Directors and told them they wanted Paige Cognetti on the Board.

Now, I’m sure Paige could’ve and would’ve gotten on the Board without this influence.  This isn’t about her.  Instead, I want to point out something very important and very dangerous here:   The group that dropped $15,000-$20,000 on your campaign says, “Hey, vote this way!”  And what does the politician usually say?  We know that the national system is rigged, the local one is, too.

I’m going to attack the integrity of this group:  The Scranton PAC, which bills itself as a group of local donors who want to clean up the city, are liars.

I hope they all read this, because I met with them once and they told me once they endorse, they walk away, don’t pick up the phone, and don’t ask for anything.  I figured it was bullshit, but I always give people the benefit of the doubt.  Well, it turns out nobody drops the kind of money they drop without wanting something.  So they lied to me, and to whoever else they fed that line.  So now we have to worry about which School Board members they own.

I can provide some insight there.

A few weeks back, I applied for a School Board vacancy.  The Board’s choice, Paige Cognetti, is who I would’ve chosen, had I been in their place.  She’s already been an immense asset and will continue to be in the long term, given her financial background and her experience.   I’m glad the Board made the choice they did, and I believe we actually have a very solid and dedicated team in there.

Minus two rather clear examples, who demonstrably have no integrity and need to be out of politics, because they are what’s wrong with Scranton.  Between today’s paper, and some documents that I have (linked below), I’ll offer you the evidence that got me to that conclusion.

The Board rated candidates based on a rubric.  This is presumably to remove bias from the process.  The reality, of course, is that directors can inflate or deflate their scores based on predetermined notions.  But, at the very least, a lot of the people there got a fair shake.  And I believe got a fair shake from most directors.

The categories were professional experience, community involvement, public speaking, willingness to collaborate, and leadership.

Director McAndrew gave me a 6 out of 50 and Tom Schuster gave me a 4 out of 50.  Total between categories. They did almost the exact same thing to Gopal Patel.  There is no objective way to argue that these scores are fair.  That means their scores were entirely, nakedly political.  They did what they were told by the people who paid for their seats, as you saw in today’s paper.

Early on in the process, I spoke to McAndrew about the vacancy and he indicated that I was, indeed, one of the top qualified candidates.  So either he lied to me, or he meant it and sunk me for political reasons.  Either way, he was deceptive and dishonest and simply cannot be trusted.  (This is a pattern with Mark, evidently.  He did it recently in the Mayoral and Council races– telling candidates he supported them, then supporting others.)

Schuster is a Rand Paul libertarian type, and I am roughly the opposite.  I didn’t expect him to rate me well, but I had always thought of him as a man of integrity and expected to be treated fairly.  Naive of me.

If you want to see how awful my public speaking ability (inability) is, click the video and rate me in all of those categories yourself.  Do the same for Gopal Patel and decide if McAndrew and Schuster were fair.

When the PAC jumped on the scene, I was suspicious.  When I say they buy elections, I can use numbers to prove it.  You can read my previous analysis here.

McAndrew, when I confronted him about this score, said he wanted people with financial experience.  The multi-million dollar SPA deal I worked on aside, Gopal Patel owns multiple businesses in the area and obviously fits the bill McAndrew claims he wanted.  So another lie.

I also asked Schuster to clarify his vote.  He declined to do so.  Constituent services evidently aren’t up his alley.  (Side Note: Neither is knowing the difference between a TAN–a Tax Anticipation Note– and a TRAN — not real– at Wednesday’s Board meeting.  The chair of finance should probably know what a TAN is, but I have been arguing that he’s completely unqualified.  He just continues to demonstrate that I’m right.)

Despite everybody’s beliefs in their own cleverness (Scranton PAC included), I am independent of any groups and do what I think is right, not politically convenient (in fact, this post is proof: I’m sure I have made enemies for life because of it and I frankly do not care).  As many may have heard or read, I publicly spoke out against Bob Sheridan because he was doing a bad job.  I did the same with Chris Phillips, exposing his hypocrisy.   I called out Wayne Evans when he vowed he wouldn’t run to retain a seat he was appointed to and– guess what? — ran anyway.

I do the same now with Mark McAndrew and Tom Schuster.  Two of your School Directors lack integrity, and are merely shills for the Scranton PAC.  I’ve linked their rating sheets below, in case you’re curious.  Mark McAndrew, I am genuinely sad to say, since I used to respect and support him, has simply become the Bob Sheridan of West Side.  We just don’t need that in politics.  Schuster, as I have pointed out over and over, has a lack of competence and qualification.  Add integrity to the list.  We don’t need that in politics, either.

The rumor is that Mark wants to run for City Council. Schuster, I’m sure, will run for re-election to his School Board post.  I look forward to letting everybody know that these are not the people we need in public service.  They, along with the Scranton PAC, are what’s wrong with this area.





Patel Rubric 12.7.17

Gebhardt-Cognetti Rubric 12.7.17

Mazzei Rubric 12.7.17

Borthwick Rubric 12.7.17


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  1. Tom,

    Great post, as always.

    Regarding Director Cognetti, while she is certainly very qualified, her connection to Sal Cognetti…and by extension, a certain Dunmore Businessman…should at least generate some questions (which it has not, at not that I have seen). Think about it: Her coming on the scene just as the State shines a light on a twice awarded no-bid busing contract…with the previously mentioned Dunmore businessman…is a bit of a coincidence, is it not?

    Point of reference:

    By the way, what are the odds that the previously mentioned Dunmore businessman contributes to the Scranton PAC?

    I know, the above sounds like conspiracy theory worthy of the X Files, but when it comes to Scranton politics, there are no coincidences.

    – Steve

  2. Of COURSE the whole thing was a joke. Besides the unforgivable misspelling on the sheet, what do the numbers mean? Great? Near great? Average? What are their qualifications to judge these individual traits? Is there a curve or are the numbers raw? Did that famous last name play a part?

    At least your (or you’re, if on the board) eyes are now irreversibly opened. You can watch as the district slides into insolvency with all the grace of the Titanic sinking into the black depths of the icy Atlantic.


    1. I’m fine with being consigned to the realm of mere commentary. Maybe that’ll affect something.