Not Cease from Exploration

Sunday, December 10, 2017


The #MeToo in the title doesn't refer to me personally.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the #MeToo movement (background HERE), which isn't all that difficlt a task, given the daily disclosures of sexual misconduct by those in the media, entertainment and politics, all resulting in a wave of quitting that would make Sarah Palin proud(1).  Some of these self-inflicted wounds make me cringe; think Garrison Keillor(2).  Others?  Well, let's just say that Matt Lauer is a special breed of scumbag.

It's worth noting that everyone as a right to due process, and there are always two sides to every story.  However, when several people who don't know each other tell similar stories of abuse, well, there's at least room for discussion.  What's more, no one is entitled to be a media powerbroker, Today Show host, politician, Senate Candidate, etc.  Those are privelidges, not rights.  If you want to make a living in the public eye, well, you have to take both the good and the bad that goes with the gig.

Anyway, here's the central point worth making:  The #MeToo movement, in my mind, isn't about...
...patriarchy's about power.  If you think otherwise, well, I think you're blinded to the real issue at hand.  

Folks engage in this kind of behavior because they can.  They have taken to believe that, by virtue of their awesomeness (as they have been told), they can pretty much do whatever they want.  The power to do whatever one wants is ultimately corruptable.  The fact that more men engage in this kind of behavior is simply a symptom of the fact that more men in our society are in positions of power than women.  

I'm not excusing bad behavior by men, for the record.  As the father of three young professonal women, well, I worry mightly about their well-being.  What I am saying though is that there plenty of men who never engage in this kind of behavior.  Even men in positions of power and authority.   Using #MeToo as a blunt instrument to talk about men in general steers an important debate into an area that will result in nothing productive.   

What's the solution?  Well there isn't one.  This isn't a "do this and it will get fixed" kind of thing.  A big part of this whole mess has to do with American celebrity culture:  We worship the famous and powerful, and thereby give them license to whatever they want.  You see the headlines all the time.  Excusing bad behavior in one area opens the door to the perception of excusable bad behavior in another.  And there's a long way to go:  Roman Polanski (see THIS posting from 2009) is still celebrated by Hollywood and living a good life in France.

While I don't think there is a solution to this problem, I do believe that #MeToo is ultimately a healthy exercise, provided that it isn't too broadly focused.        

(1) Famous Quitters should be a Jeopardy! category.
(2) Mr. Keillor maintains his innocence, as of this writing.  See THIS link for more information and THIS link for a statement from Mr Keillor.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Landfill Expansion and an Imploding School District

What does the construction of a mountain made of New Jersey trash and the pending financial collapse of a school district have in common?

I was pondering the above while commenting on two articles in the Sunday edition of the Scranton Times-Tribune and this is what came to me:  Bread and Circuses(1).  

NEPA is the ultimate land of "Bread and Circuses". People will gladly be disinterested in what will harm their children (and their children's children)(2) just as long as they can get beer at the local quickie mart, nothing interferes with the local high school football game on Friday night, and they have politicians & well-off business people to admire (and name things after).

We see it all around don't need to look too far to see the lunar landscapes of culm banks that can be found all over NEPA.  And in the countless buildings and things named for politicians and those wealthy few who greased politicians for years in exchange for favors that served narrow economic interests.  That's okay though because those in power figured out generations ago that the residents of NEPA can be bought on the cheap.  Just dangle the prospect of some trickle down power, money or influence and just about anything in the area can be overlooked.  

In the department of things overlooked, the Scranton School District (SSD) has been slowly sliding into receivership for years now, all while those who actually voted in the city continued to elect under or non-qualified leaders.  Now that the warning signs of impending doom have nearly made sports score sized fonts in the local newspaper, the leaders of the SSD are considering a few drastic steps, such as the elimination of some under-utilized educational programs.  To the best of my knowledge though, there have been no public discussions about tackling the costs of sports programs.  Pun intended.  Why?  See above: Bread and Circuses.

Speaking of high school sports in general and football in particular, let me clear up two misconceptions about that seem to abound when it comes to the local "gridiron":

(1) High school football does not pay for itself.  In fact, that's a fiscal impossibility.  Game attendance couldn't even cover the cost of maintaining the stadium any school plays in, let alone the costs of insurance, transportation, equipment, manpower, etc.

(2) Very, very few high school football players actually get college scholarships.  How few?  According to THIS ARTICLE, about 2%.  So much for "but football is needed because it's the only way some kids can afford to go to college".  

I have nothing against high school sports as long as they don't impede the actual reason for high schools to exist in the first place, namely the education of every student.

Finally, generations of NEPA residents have down-right admired the powerful and the connected.  It's almost Stockholm Syndrome worthy if you ask me.  I wonder what the local economy would be like if local politicians and other civic interests were as supportive of every private business as they are of those run, for example, by the landfill family?  The economy would be booming, as opposed to perpetually sitting at the bottom of Pennsylvania.  Thank god for Altoona.  I have nothing against that particular family, by the way; I just wish they weren't trying to build a mountain of out-of-state trash.  Yet there are supporters of the landfill expansion.  That particular family has done a lot for the region, don't you know.  

Maybe, just maybe, things might be changing.  Maybe a younger generation will see beyond the parochial interests of immediate gratification and understand that some things come at too high of a cost.  Maybe a few brave souls will step up at the Scranton School Board and make truly difficult...and no doubt unpopular...choices to reduce the costs of non-educational activities.  Maybe I'm dreaming, but hey, there's always hope.

(1) If you're unfamiliar with the concept of "bread and circuses", well, read HERE.

(2) Even worse that culm banks, the proposed mountain of trash will exist forever.  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Raising Taxes on Struggling Students

I've never called a politician before, until today, and I did that three times.
The situation noted in the article below is simply shameful. As the proud parent of a Ph.D. candidate, words can not express how furious I am at this provision of the current tax bill. Raising taxing on future scientists...people who will cure diseases and make all of our lives better...all for the sake of lowering a corporate tax rate is short-sighted at best. We should be encouraging folks such as my daughter...not using the tax code to punish them.
This is the antithesis of "Making America Great Again".

I fully acknowledge that this is an issue for which I am personally invested.  I also acknowledge that, in all likelihood, my wife and I will likely end up with a lower tax obligation if the current bill in Congress becomes law.  That's of little consequence though when you consider the value that science...and scientists...brings to our nation.

I highly doubt that the two messages I left with Senator Toomey's office will be acknowledged.  But then again I can look myself in the mirror and say "I did the right thing".

A future scientist and her Dad, many years ago.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sometimes Help...and Hope...Comes in a Small Package

I had to be somewhat prodded into pet ownership in November of 2010.  I was (newly) living in an apartment by myself, and in retrospect, coming home to a completely empty place wasn't very healthy for me.  My oldest daughter Katrina had a friend who had two kittens that needed to be adopted, so, as she is skilled at doing, she convinced me to act in spite of myself.

The actual kitten selection process was to take place in a parking lot somewhere that I now forget.  On the drive over, Katrina and I pondered the various possible names for a new cat.  I really wanted to name the cat "Bill" as in "Bill the Cat"...

...but Katrina assured me that this was a bad idea.  We pondered other names, eventually falling into several that mostly centered around Star Trek characters.  Why?  I have no clue.  The two finalist names were "Spock" and "JeanLuc".  I settled on the latter.

The actual meeting was quick.  Katrina's friend brought out a small carrier with two identical and sister...who needed to be adopted.  Not being very confident in my ability to take care of one cat, let alone two, I passed on the opportunity to cat-parent twins.  Of the two kittens, I picked the one in the back, who turned out to be a boy.  He seemed to need me. That also helped make the whole JeanLuc thing work.  That day was November 27, 2010.

This was one of the smarter decisions I've made in my life.  Up until then, I hadn't realized how utterly horrible it was coming home to nothing.  Going through a separation and divorce, I went from a loud house to an eerily quiet apartment.  Starting on November 27, 2010, I had someone to come home to.  Yes, every workday JeanLuc would see me off in morning and be waiting at the front a dog...when I came home.  He was someone who, on the surface, needed me...but in reality, it was me who needed him.

My life took a turn for the better on November 27, 2010.

These days, JeanLuc is a little heavier (well, in fairness, so am I) and a bit less active (that makes two of us), but he still often meets me at the front door.  

Like me, his (kitty) family has expanded, with the addition of step-brothers Tiger and Rambo.  Life now if a bit less dramatic and more predictable for both of us.  Here's to many more years together.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lessons in Thanks

I normally don't like the idea of eating in a restaurant on Thanksgiving.  Why?  Well, I guess part of it has to do with the fact that I don't want anyone having to work on Thanksgiving, especially when it comes to serving someone like me.  It just doesn't seem right, as everyone should be able to enjoy the holiday with their families.  This year though, as a result of some changed circumstances, I actually did eat Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant, and, well, it was a great experience.

Part of the story here goes back a few years to that period when I was going through a divorce.  One bit of well-intentioned advice I received was basically that I should require my daughters to have Thanksgiving dinner with me.  That one was tough.  That whole first holiday season was difficult, truth be told.  I always hated the drill of having to run between houses on holidays, and the last thing I wanted to do was to subject my own children to that sort of thing.  A lesson of sorts was learned from that Thanksgiving, namely that giving thanks can't be forced.  Since then, I've tried to balance holidays like Thanksgiving such that I can see my daughters, with minimal stress to them, without stressing myself.  These days, my daughters spend Thanksgiving with their mother and family, and I typically see them in the evening or on the next day.  That's the plan this year, by the way.

Moving forward, I've tried to create new traditions.  Well, that's incorrect, as I've basically come to join my wife's family traditions, which usually means eating Thanksgiving dinner in Philadelphia.  This year was a bit different though, as most of her immediate family was traveling over the holiday.  What we ended up doing was finding a restaurant in southcentral Pennsylvania, where we joined my wife's remaining state-side sibling (plus husband and one daughter), and the aunt of my two stepsons.

(THIS place)

It turned out to be a great decision, for the official record.  It was a nice day for a drive to Annville.  The food was great.  Our server was terrific, and we left her a very generous tip.  It was also nice not having to clean anything up.  Yes, in a perfect world it would always be nice to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, but I don't feel bad about our choice this year.

The larger lesson here harkens back to what I noted previously, namely some sense of absolutes ("you must insist that your daughters...", "you should never..."), no matter how well-intentioned, aren't necessarily helpful.  In fact, the world...and our collective mental health...can do with fewer absolutes.  Save those for the things for when they are an absolute necessity.  For everything else, well, it's always good to keep an open, less rigid mind about things.

Lastly, this is still (with about an hour to go as I type this) Thanksgiving, so it's wholly appropriate that I note how very much I have to be thankful for in this life.  Compared to most, I have been incredibly blessed, many times over.  These blessings are so abundant that, in fact, they are far too easy to take for granted.  I need to work on keeping that perspective, and like most important things in life, that will continue to be more of a journey than a destination.

* * * * * *

A special note of thanks:  More people actually read these postings that I want to admit to, and for that, well, I am very grateful.  It's nice to know that I sometimes write things that others find worth reading.  It's an even better thought that sometimes I may write something that gives another pause, that may leave someone saying "wow, I feel that way too" or momentarily takes someone out of their day.  While I'd still write this stuff if no one actually read it, I'm very thankful that some actually do.     

Sunday, November 19, 2017

How Do You Spell Despair? C-A-S-I-N-O

Once a year for the past several years in and around November 20th(1) my wife and I venture forth from our home to that shiny beacon between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre knows as the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino.  This year was no different, and jaunt is mainly to get a good meal and walk around.  That's the plan.  Oh, and we waste about $20 in the slot machines, which for me consists of the following:

  • Insert money
  • Randomly push buttons
  • Lose money
  • Repeat

  • I genuinely do not know how to play a slot machine.  I really, truly don't.  You could sit me down side-by-side at a slot machine with a chimpanzee and we would pretty much be doing the exact same thing.  Now, this isn't a lacking on my part of the mental fire-power required to understand how to play these devices; spend any time in a casino and observe who actually does play slot machines and my point will be made.  No, this is what a complete lack of interest in gambling looks like.  I feel the same way about lottery tickets too, for the record.

    So why do it?

    It's kind of like that once or twice a year drink of alcohol I have...maybe it just serves to remind me that I don't like gambling, or drinking (alcohol) for that matter.

    Anyway, for me, the thought of the casino is always much better than the actuality of the casino.  I mean no disrespect, by the way, to the operators of the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino.  By all accounts and my personal observations, it's a clean(2), secure, friendly, and well-run operation.  It's just that I don't understand the underlying attraction, especially when you consider that this is a 24/7 operation.  What's more, there's just sometimes this sense of despair when you are at the casino.  I see these folks sitting alone at a slot machine, with a vacant expression of their face as they purposefully work the slot machine buttons(3).  I want to find a middle-aged lady who is sitting there alone and ask her "is that fun?".  Maybe it is fun.  Then again, people who play games of chance at any casino lose far more money than they ever win, which to me seems like the anthesis of fun.  

    Wratcheting this up a bit, remember that this is a 24/7 operation.  Yes, there are people gambling there at 3am in the morning.  I want to go, just one time, to the casino at 3am in the morning just to see this for myself, to prove that such a thing isn't just an academic construct or urban myth.

    One thing the casino is?  It's alive.  It's bright.  It's blinking.  It's a kind of modern glitzy.  Maybe for some folks, well, that's what the casino does for them: It's a place that's alive, and maybe that's something they really need.  Just writing that thought makes me think of despair though.  

    A final thought:  Casinos in Pennsylvania have a privilege that they...and only they...enjoy, namely that indoor smoking is allowed.  Within 10 seconds of entering the building...more than a hundred feet from the gambling floor...I can smell the tobacco smoke.  After about an hour and a half, I feel myself starting to get a horrible headache from it.  I wonder just how the workers there tolerate that sort of thing, well at least the workers that don't smoke.  That previous statement is a bit of a contradiction by the way, because if you work at the casino, even if you don't smoke, you are actually smoking.  The air is that bad.  That must be one heck of a waiver they must sign upon the start of employment.  

    (1) Why November 20th?  Well, it's something of a second anniversary, of sorts.
    (2) "Clean", as long as you don't consider the air.
    (3) Purposefully, unlike me.

    Sunday, November 12, 2017

    Zen and the Art of Managing Photos

    One of the things in life that I find both calming and satisfying is organizing things.  That may sound odd, but I think it feeds into the fact that what I've spent most of my professional life doing doesn't always deliver quick and tangible results.  Taking a pile of something disorganized and turning it into something that's useful and makes sense?  Infinitely satisfying.  And so it is this weekend that my major project was to re-organize my 29 gigabytes of photographs.

    I had all of my photos in a folder on my desktop computer (backed up monthly onto a Western Digital 1 terabyte portable hard drive), but the organizational system left a lot to be desired.  In fact, I had trouble finding things and ended up not filing a ton of pictures.  Now, after about 4 hours of work, everything makes sense, and the organizational rules I put in place will make it easier to add more photographs in the future.  I was also able to eliminate a few hundred duplicate photos in the process.

    Granted, the above isn't all the exciting to anyone but me.

    The impetus for the above re-organization?  Probably threefold actually:

    1. Not having my old photos well organized actually discouraged me from taking more pictures.  
    2. I always enjoy looking at old photographs (not of me) anyway.  
    3. I've been given some additional photographs of my father, so it made sense clean things up a bit.  

    (Dad, late 40's I think; courtesy of my half-sister Theresa)

    There is a fourth reason as well:  I'm trying to be more purposeful with my non-working time.  That sounds like a Harvard phrase for "less lazy", but it's actually not.  I feel as if I am missing opportunities in life sometimes.  Yes, we all need "down time", but I'm not at my best when I feel as if I lack a direction or purpose.  I need to have something to accomplish.  Thinking back over 2017, I was at my best when I had graduate school (which was also maddening on many, many levels) work.  At my worst?  I'd have to say that was when I would sit in this office, just looking at a computer screen, mostly trying to avoid grieving over the loss of a 28-year-old job and 51-year-old brother.  A failed strategy, and while I don't claim that organizing photographs is a cure, I think it's part of a larger acknowledgment of sorts.

    (My Penn State college ID, 1982)

    So yes, in a way of sorts there is a connection between grief and old photographs:  I sometimes find both equally embarrassing, but hiding either makes little sense.

    Sunday, November 5, 2017


    Two photos, two weddings, 23 years apart.

    Hardly the Corleone family, I give you that much.  But if we were the Corleone family, well, I'd definitely be Michael.

    I've been thinking about family quite a bit lately.  In fact, I may be thinking about family even more in the weeks to come.  I have some work to do in that regard.

    Anyway, I was talking to my older brother the other day about family stuff, and while we're only 15 months apart, his memory for days long since past is far better than mine.  Astoundingly better, in point of fact.  That's both a conundrum and a shame.  The conundrum(1) part?  Given that there isn't that much difference in our ages, just why in the heck can't I remember as much as he does?  It's seriously surreal.  The shame part?  There's just a lot that I've missed...including people and places.  It's not as if I have vague memories; in fact, I basically have virtually none.  It's as if I was born being 5 years old (and even then I don't remember all that much).  

    (Back to when I apparently wasn't busy remembering in any things)

    Some recent feedback centers around the notion that I may(2) be guilty of "intellectualizing" all too often.  I'm still pondering that one in general, but when it comes to how I've approached things like my family, especially as it relates to my siblings, well, it's tough commentary to refute.  Maybe it all goes back to the notion that I was raised in what amounted to Scranton Campus of the Vulcan Science Academy(3)...without Vulcans and Science...but with lots of yelling at young men for aiming at, but serially missing, the toilet.  

    With apologies for the overt Star Trek references.

    (1)  I'll be honest:  I really like the word conundrum, so using it twice in this posting is kind of neat.  Conundrum (make that 3 times), as a word in the English language, isn't used nearly enough, in spite of the many conundrums (make that 4 times) we face in the United States today.
    (2)  An easy one:  The term "may" is me being overly kind in this context.
    (3)  Translation:  Growing up, there wasn't much tolerance for the expression of emotions.  Basically, my mother had two emotions:  Pissed Off and (Not) Pissed Off.  The boys?  We were just allowed one.  

    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    Preface To A Broken Wing

    The posting you see below (the six *'s) was written by me on September 30th, pretty much unchanged until now, except of course for the fact that you didn't see it then.  In fact, no one saw it, mainly because I didn't publish it until now.  It, along with about 60 or so other postings, sat in my draft bin.  I'm like that when it comes to this writing stuff...

    ...sometimes I get these ideas and quickly write them out, only to lose interest.
    ...sometimes I work diligently to finish a posting, only to think "that's too ______"

    The September 30th posting, as written below, was the latter.  In this case, the ________ is probably best described as "visceral"; as a result, I didn't want anyone to read it and somehow worry about me.  Why?  I simply don't want that kind of attention.  Odd, given that I put myself "out there" via public Internet postings, but never the less I've never wanted that kind of attention.  I never wanted to be that "weak" person, that "needy" person, that "vulnerable" person, or that kind of person that my mother would have probably mocked in some fashion for their perceived frailty.  Yet, in spite of my need to "win", to be "in control" to be "good enough", there have been times over the past year when I've felt as if none of those things applied. 

    So why am I publishing this now?

    The answer is simply this:  It's honest, and if anything, I've always tried to be honest in this microscopic corner of the Internet.  Yes, you can call me many, many things, but dishonest about how I feel with regard to a particular topic?  Nope.  I'll also note that a friend posted something on social media on Sunday that moved was simple...and I admired this person's honesty.  If they could be honest, well, it feels rather cowardly that I can't.  What's more, I need to break this whole "October Bad Juju" thing once and for all.

    Finally, and going back to the idea of "visceral", I think it needs to be okay for me...for everyone really, but especially for not be okay sometimes.  Maybe this, in some small manner, is a kind of statement to note that sometimes those of us who seem the best assembled may, in fact, have a few loose parts from time to time.  It's okay to not win all the time.  It's okay to not be in control every once in a while.  Just facing this is "good enough". 

    So yes, what you read below was honestly how I was feeling on September 30, 2017.  It's not now how I feel now, by the way, but many of the things that drove me to write "Broken Wing" are still there.  Now I know, that previous sentence sounds all too cryptic, but so be it.  I write this as October is about to end, and by and large, it's been a good month.  That's another reason to write this posting by the way:  "Broken Wing" and this preface are a kind of bookend, if you will, for the month that turned out well. 

    * * * * * *

    Broken Wing (September 30, 2017)

    It's time for something of a confession.  Of sorts.  Heck, I'm starting this and not sure even what "it" will end up being; I just know that I need to write this, so fingers are hitting the keyboard.

    (My late brother Chris, acting like an ass, date unknown)

    As I start to write this, tomorrow will be the first day of October, and I am anxious about it.  Pretty odd, huh?  I pride myself on being a rational person, someone who likes to think like a scientist(1),  someone who uses reasoning, not emotion, to view the world.  Yet over this past year or so, some of that logic has failed me.  There have been times when I've felt like a bird with a broken wing.  Am I to be in this perpetual state of damage?

    The signs are all around me:
    Some days are a struggle to get through. 
    I have much to be thankful for(2), but yet I don't always feel it.
    I'm not sure much brings me joy.
    I've allowed piles of crap to sit in my office since January; I'm only now starting to clean up.
    I have an exceptionally difficult time relaxing, even when I'm not working.
    I have allowed my eating to get dramatically out of control.

    I'm illogically afraid that another layoff (a-la "Retirement") or some other major jolt is just around the corner.  Welcome to October.  Will this be the one that finally breaks me?  It's not a paralyzing fear, for that, well, I could probably handle.  Instead, this is more like a small gnawing kind of feeling.  A leprosy of the soul.  It may go hiatus for a day or two, but it almost always returns, rotting away at my innards.

    I replay my "retirement" 20-second video notice in my head.  I have a kind of deep sorrow regarding my late brother.  As I've noted here before, in a way I am grateful that I (and not one of my other brothers) was the one who found him; on the other hand, and this won't be a shock, but that was a horrible experience.  I am both sad and angry that he's gone, but yet grateful that he's not suffering.

    It feels as if so much has been taken from me over this past year.

    I've done my level best to try and sort this whole mess out, but maybe it's time for a different kind of approach.  I'm just not sure yet just what that different kind of approach will be just yet.

    For the record, this isn't a "cry for help" and I am in no way, shape or form a danger to myself, others(3), small animals, most insects or any other of God's creations.  Even at my most damaged, well, at worst I try to subconsciously harm myself via eclair and grease overdose.  The latter almost sounds comical, but it happens to be true.

    I can envision a happier future:  Being physically healthier, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, not vegetating so much in the evenings.  It all feels though like it's ever so slightly out of reach.

    At the start of October, well, it feels like my worst month may have already won.  We shall see.

    * * * * * *

    (1) Which makes me all the more proud that I have a daughter who is becoming a scientist.  
    (2) A kind and supportive wife, a job that pays my bills, colleagues at work who are a pleasure to work with, physical health (sometimes in spite of my best efforts), and the list goes on.
    (3) One exception:  I am a danger to NAZIs and other such types.  Just saying.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017

    The Entire Scranton School Board Should Resign

    Here's the least damning thing recently reported about the Scranton School District (SSD) by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale:  Scranton effectively has the most debt-ridden school district in Pennsylvania.

    Again, that's the least damning thing noted in the A.G.'s recent performance audit of the SSD.

    It get's worse from there; here's a telling quote from the A.G.:

    “It is long past time for the dysfunctional Scranton School District board and the staff to start acting like responsible adults, and to be blunt, get their heads out of their asses and focus their energies on doing what is right for the district’s 10,000 students and thousands of taxpayers,” 

    You can read more about Auditor General's report on the Scranton Times website (link to the article HERE).

    You can read the entire report produced by the A.G.'s office HERE.

    There's nothing I need to embellish in this mess, as the facts stand out on their own.  I do wonder if some of the accusations merit a further criminal investigation, such as over $600,000 paid to a mechanic...who was not a district employee...who also received SSD paid medical coverage (for himself and his spouse).  Then there's the busing contract, which virtually everyone, including the A.G. but except a majority of the SSD Board, has known to be a fiscal version of a dumpster fire.

    Regardless, there's one step the SSD Board should take, unanimously I will add:  Resign.

    The entire SSD Board should resign, effective immediately.  All of them are complicit in regard to the SSD's perilous states, both fiscally and from a leadership perspective.  All of them either knew or should have known what was happening in the SSD.  All of them failed to appropriately raise the condition of the SSD to the crisis level that's described in the A.G.'s report.  The fact that Pennsylvania's Auditor General has to shame the SSD's leaders into doing their jobs is more than sufficient justification for a mass resignation.

    Speaking of complicit, the SSD's unions can't escape blame here, as they knowingly engaged in the politics of the board, routinely endorsing candidates that weren't qualified to count money in a second-rate Bingo Parlor, let alone manage a multi-million dollar budget.  Yes, the objective of any union is to look out for its members, but educators and support professionals in education have an additional calling, namely the care and betterment of children given to them during school hours.  Board politics and hiring practices over the years benefited union members...which is a fact that no sane person in Scranton would dispute...but these same practices will ultimately harm the SSD's students through the budget cuts that are coming.

    Finally, the ultimate "buck stops here" moment in this hot mess lies with the voting age population of Scranton.  As I noted in a related Facebook posting, institutionalized government graft is a part of Northeastern Pennsylvania's culture.  It's effectively seen as an area with limited economic opportunities, connections to government graft became for many Scranton residents an accepted form of upward mobility.  The problem though is that the greed driving the engine of government graft is unsustainable; eventually, so many pieces of the pie are taken that there are only crumbs left to educate students.