Town Hall Meeting: Protests And Points In Favor

SCRANTON -- Some folks at the town hall meeting say Mayor Bill Courtright answered most of the unanswered questions. Others say the mayor stumbled badly, especially when he tried to explain why it took 50 lawyers and $3.1 million to make the sale happen.

"The people need to be represented, not just crony lawyers," said one protester.

Mayor Courtright didn't have to see the protesters outside the Lackawanna College auditorium to know he would face a tough crowd.

Once the meeting started, questions from the crowd seemed more like a cross-examination.

"When did you first entertain the ideal of selling the Scranton Sewer Authority?" asked Kara Seitzinger of Scranton.

Criticisms seemed personal, particularly when the subject of lawyers and legal fees came up.

"Everyone connected to this mayor and wet their beak on this deal," exclaimed Bill Gaughan of the Scranton City Council.

Mayor Courtright's most vocal critic on Scranton's City Council was told to sit after talking beyond a five-minute time limit.

"This isn't a town hall. This is a circus," said Gaughan."

"What did we accomplish?" asked Mayor Courtright.

The mayor said the deal took in $13 million less than the city expected due to it taking a year longer than expected to complete. The deal forced the city to pay federally mandated sewer repairs in 2016.

The mayor ties the high legal fees to the complexity of the deal and the need for legal specialists.

Critics pointed to a Philadelphia firm that made more than$1.5 million, which include some lawyers billing at more than $800 per hour.

"Did they actually donate to your campaign?" asked Mike Mancini of Scranton.

"Three or four thousand dollars. I'm not sure," replied Mayor Courtright.

"It was almost like a feeding frenzy," said Seitzinger.

Despite the criticism for the past couple of months, Mayor Courtright believes he convinced Scrantonians his administration made a deal that benefits the city.

"Everything was above board. This was a great deal for the city. If it were not for this deal, I truly believe the city would be in receivership right now," said Mayor Courtright.

Mayor Courtright added that the deal will save the average family $250,000 by paying down its pension debt instead of taking out an expensive loan to pay that bill.

That is a figure critics of the deal are not ready to accept.

5 comments

  • Get Real

    The lawyers got caught with their hands in the cookie jar on this one. They saw it as an opportunity to make a quick buck and were attracted to it like bees to honey. The REAL story resides in the kickbacks to the politicians for opening the cookie jar.

  • Fed up taxpayer

    Paola Giangiacomo got so old looking. She was nasty, and it seemed like she was there to protect the mayor from the mean tax payers. This was a circus, and nothing new.

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