New Commissioners Take Oath of Office Amid Controversy

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SCRANTON -- It's a new year and new commissioners in Lackawanna County.

Democrats Jerry Notarianni and Democrat Patrick O'Malley were sworn in as the new majority commissioners in Lackawanna County.

O'Malley has been on the board of commissioners for the last four years. Notarianni is a newcomer, replacing Jim Wansacz who was defeated in the May primary.

Earlier in the morning, the third commissioner -- Republican Laureen Cummings -- took the oath of office. The single mom from Old Forge is the minority commissioner.

A day that was supposed to be dedicated to the swearing in of Lackawanna County officials was quickly overshadowed by a conflict involving the position of the commissioners' chief of staff.

Recorder of deeds Evie McNulty was expected to get the position until she got a call from Majority Commissioner Patrick O'Malley.

"'Evie, it's Patrick. I can't support you for chief of staff,'" McNulty said, recalling the conversation. "I thought it was a joke. I said, 'what?' And he said, 'I can't support you for chief of staff.' I said, 'what are you talking about?' And he said, 'I know you were at a meeting with John Appleton and John Serra and you said I took money from the Globe, and still thinking it was funny. Then he was serious and I said, 'you are insane.'"

But O'Malley tells Newswatch 16 McNulty is just not right for the job.

"She was never officially hired," said O'Malley. "She is not the person for the job."

The commissioners' office managed to function for the last year and a half without a chief of staff. But officials insist it's a role that is needed, a sort of right-hand person to the commissioners running the day-to-day duties in the office.

"I just felt the chief of staff is a very special position," O'Malley added.

McNulty says she never criticized O'Malley.

"I would never, ever, have I ever. He has a better chance of me saying something bizarre about him but to ever say or accuse any elected official of a wrongdoing. That's not even something to joke about," said McNulty.

The chief of staff position is only part of the new controversy in Lackawanna County. Republican minority Commissioner Laureen Cummings told us she was left out transition meetings involving new Democratic commissioner Jerry Notarianni.

"I wanted to have a transition team. I wanted to be a part of it and I spoke to Jerry prior to the election and he said he would be interested in having me on that, so he told me he would give me a call then after the election. He didn't call, so then I called him and he said, 'oh, yeah, we are going to put that together and I'll let you know,'" said Commissioner Cummings.

Commissioner Notarianni tells us he contacted Commissioner Cummings and chalks it up to possible miscommunication.

"She had the opportunity to do what she wanted. If she wanted to talk, then she certainly could have and I'm sure the commissioners would have been helpful with her, but I just thought it was necessary to get a start on it," said Commissioner Notarianni.

"I wasn't aware there was a transition team until the day I met with Mr. Kelly and he told me they had been in his office, and at that point I did call, and that's when I was invited to meet with Jerry and Mr. Appleton on that Tuesday, last Tuesday," said Cummings.

Cummings is the first female commissioner in Lackawanna County history.   She pledges to work to reduce taxes.

2 comments

  • Ms. Corningstone

    Thought I was tuning in to see a swearing in on the news…but found myself watching Anchorman instead! Sad day for the advancement of women. Good luck Loreen. Hope they fill that vacant spot with an uncorrupt person soon. It seems as though an extra set of eyes is needed. Maybe the ‘Good Ol’Boys’ were worried there would be too much estrogen in the office 😉

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